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tennissy 10-20-2012 10:39 PM

New at this
 
My son has just turned seven. When he was 5.5, his school ran an introductory tennis program for a few weeks. He became hooked, and begged for us to join a club. We did this, and so began his addiction. He (still) spends every spare hour hitting against the wall at home and spends as much time as he can at the club. His coach noticed his talent and drive and he now has one private a week (1/2hr), and 3 X 1hr squad classes. He just can't get enough. If he can't play it he'll be watching DVDs of old matches. He plays with 9/10 year olds at our club and is making great progress.

The problem is, we are not a tennis (nor a sporty) family... we know very little about tennis (but are learning quick!) and we are fielding all sorts of advice from strangers about what we need to do to help him get to the top. Our son desperately wants to be a number one tennis player, and would love to do tennis all day if he could. What do we do with him? Are we on the right track? Should he be getting more private lessons? Coaches here don't seem to push the whole private lesson thing but more are into squads. Is this the right way to go? Our coach does not want him to compete till he's around 8, he would rather he worked on technique which I understand.

We are from a small country and funding for tennis at a high level is very limited. Very few pro players are developed here. Any advice on what other countries do with young players would be greatly appreciated. As parents, we feel like we are in a difficult position. Our boy has got this huge dream and he is ready to commit all he has to it. We don't mind if he changes his mind or fails at it, but we would hate to be the reason he didn't succeed.

How many hours of formal (group or private) coaching would a driven 7 year old do in your country?

BirdieLane 10-22-2012 07:18 AM

Sounds like things are on the right track. This passion he's showing is teh most important!

I'd encourage you to make sure he develops athletically as much as tennis wise at this point. So I think you are spending enough time on the court and I like that there's a focus on technique/fundementals. Add to this, soccer or ice hockey or some other sport that requires a lot of explosive movement and builds him athletically and also keeps him fresh on the court.

When he does start to compete, make sure to focus on just that...competing. And doing it with full effort and full respect. Rather than winning. And also look for him to try and play 'right'...meaning good technique and avoid investing time in strategies that will get short term wins, such as 'moonballing', which you will see a lot of at young ages.

Also...you'll get different advice on this. But I'd keep him in shorter rackets using a smaller court and green dot balls. Or just very used balls. These balls are slower and don't bounce as high and are better for learning proper technique with such young children.

Lastly, educate yourself a little on good technique...there are a lot of internet resources that will analyze the worlds best players and their technique. Make sure the instructors that work with you son seems to be pushing him in this direction.

I love your attitude: "We don't mind if he changes his mind or fails at it, but we would hate to be the reason he didn't succeed." Remember that and you will do great! Support him and his passion but as you get down the road, make sure it's always him and he doesn't feel trapped.

GOOD LUCK!

coaching32yrs 10-22-2012 07:37 AM

It sounds like you are doing the right things and asking the right questions. 7is very young. In the USA if you ask 10 tennis parents you will likely get 10 different answers. Since you are not tennis players you need to find some people you can trust to guide you in the process. In the USA you cannot believe what every coach says. You have to find the right one.

widmerpool 10-22-2012 08:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BirdieLane (Post 6968554)

Also...you'll get different advice on this. But I'd keep him in shorter rackets using a smaller court and green dot balls.
GOOD LUCK!

Yeah, I'm surprised the different advice hasn't already arrived.

Soianka 10-22-2012 08:28 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tennissy (Post 6966730)
My son has just turned seven. When he was 5.5, his school ran an introductory tennis program for a few weeks. He became hooked, and begged for us to join a club. We did this, and so began his addiction. He (still) spends every spare hour hitting against the wall at home and spends as much time as he can at the club. His coach noticed his talent and drive and he now has one private a week (1/2hr), and 3 X 1hr squad classes. He just can't get enough. If he can't play it he'll be watching DVDs of old matches. He plays with 9/10 year olds at our club and is making great progress.

The problem is, we are not a tennis (nor a sporty) family... we know very little about tennis (but are learning quick!) and we are fielding all sorts of advice from strangers about what we need to do to help him get to the top. Our son desperately wants to be a number one tennis player, and would love to do tennis all day if he could. What do we do with him? Are we on the right track? Should he be getting more private lessons? Coaches here don't seem to push the whole private lesson thing but more are into squads. Is this the right way to go? Our coach does not want him to compete till he's around 8, he would rather he worked on technique which I understand.

We are from a small country and funding for tennis at a high level is very limited. Very few pro players are developed here. Any advice on what other countries do with young players would be greatly appreciated. As parents, we feel like we are in a difficult position. Our boy has got this huge dream and he is ready to commit all he has to it. We don't mind if he changes his mind or fails at it, but we would hate to be the reason he didn't succeed.

How many hours of formal (group or private) coaching would a driven 7 year old do in your country?

What country are you in, if you don't mind answering that

It's great that your son wants to play and is the one with the desire instead of a parent trying to impose their dreams on him.

My best advice is to find a knowledgeable and competent coach who will teach your boy good habits and techniques from the beginning.

NLBwell 10-22-2012 12:17 PM

The most important thing is that he is willing to hit against the wall for hour after hour. Make sure the coach really knows technique well and teaches it to him correctly. If he has good fundamentals and is willing to practice it over and over again hitting against the wall (including the serve) that is really the basics of what you need at this point. Of course, you do not want to ingrain bad fundamentals so the coaching is important. Other than that, just let him keep progressing, playing against better and better opponents as he improves and see where he is in a couple years.
If, at that point, he is still consumed with tennis, competing well against much older kids, and is getting too good for anyone at the local area, you might think about bigger things. Right now, let him still be a kid playing tennis instead of a tennis player who is a kid.

tennissy 10-22-2012 11:05 PM

Thanks for all your input. It is great to read your ideas, and I loved your last quote NLBwell "let him still be a kid playing tennis instead of a tennis player who is a kid."
He is using a 26in racquet, and plays on full size courts (with mostly green dot balls). We are in NZ and most clubs haven't switched to small sized courts yet but I don't think he would have liked them much anyway. He loves to run, and adores chasing the ball across the large court.
His technique is getting better, but sometimes I think the wall probably hinders rather than helps this! In saying that, I find it very hard to stop him. He plays soccer at school during every break and loves this.

It is great to hear your feedback. One local tennis Dad told us recently that we should quit all his squads and do 3+ lessons a week as that would be better for him. I would be reluctant to do this as our son loves the squads and playing against other kids. It is hard when your son has an insatiable obsession though, I think he was born into the wrong family!!

10ismom 10-23-2012 03:19 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tennissy (Post 6970071)
His technique is getting better, but sometimes I think the wall probably hinders rather than helps this! In saying that, I find it very hard to stop him. He plays soccer at school during every break and loves this. It is great to hear your feedback. One local tennis Dad told us recently that we should quit all his squads and do 3+ lessons a week as that would be better for him. I would be reluctant to do this as our son loves the squads and playing against other kids. It is hard when your son has an insatiable obsession though, I think he was born into the wrong family!!

I don't think your son was born into the wrong family. You just have to nurture his passion and nudge it into the right direction.
To answer your question about how many hours of lessons for someone like him at 7 yo, I think 1/2 hr private twice a week so he can learn proper stroke mechanics, tennis specific foot work and other fundamentals.

You should keep him in his squads, may be cutback to twice a week?? He will have more time to play other sports (eg. Soccer, basketball, biking, rollerblading, throwing a rugby/football, etc. This will help develop his atheletic skills and not being overloaded with tennis.

Good Luck!

JoelDali 10-23-2012 03:26 AM

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