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austintennis2005 06-18-2013 05:56 PM

11 year old lacking motivation?
 
coaches, any ideas?

i have an 11 year old girl that i am coaching...has a lot of things going for her--very nice topspin on both sides and serve, very fast, very tall for her age...

she just doesnt want to give good effort except about 40% of the time... of course i try to urge/plead/beg her to try hard on every ball but she just doesnt have the mental focus that i would like to see. at least if she tried hard 75% of the time it would be workable...

any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

asusundevils1971 06-18-2013 06:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by austintennis2005 (Post 7515913)
coaches, any ideas?

i have an 11 year old girl that i am coaching...has a lot of things going for her--very nice topspin on both sides and serve, very fast, very tall for her age...

she just doesnt want to give good effort except about 40% of the time... of course i try to urge/plead/beg her to try hard on every ball but she just doesnt have the mental focus that i would like to see. at least if she tried hard 75% of the time it would be workable...

any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

How many days/hours on court is she doing?. School will be ending soon and maybe the extra hours during the day will give her some extra effort during the lessons. Try and change up the lessons and ask her what she would like to do or work on. She is 11 and the attention span of kids that age are very limited also. Try and make it fun for her for that hour she is with you.

austintennis2005 06-18-2013 06:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by asusundevils1971 (Post 7515936)
How many days/hours on court is she doing?. School will be ending soon and maybe the extra hours during the day will give her some extra effort during the lessons. Try and change up the lessons and ask her what she would like to do or work on. She is 11 and the attention span of kids that age are very limited also. Try and make it fun for her for that hour she is with you.

thanks..right now she is doing two hours a day but even when she was doing 1 hour it was still a struggle to keep her focused and trying hard...good advice tho..thanks.

asusundevils1971 06-18-2013 06:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by austintennis2005 (Post 7515953)
thanks..right now she is doing two hours a day but even when she was doing 1 hour it was still a struggle to keep her focused and trying hard...good advice tho..thanks.

How many days of the week is she taking these two hour lessons?. Is there any juniors at the club that she would like to hit or play against?. You can watch her play and give her some advice about constructing points in the second hour of the lesson. I know it was better to play matches then take lessons when I was younger lol. You can't do nothing wrong with asking her without her parents around. Then talk with the parents and see what they think of you changing up her time with you.

TennisCJC 06-18-2013 06:36 PM

I am not a coach but I would be concerned about pushing an 11 year old too hard.

Would it make sense to do some low intensity training when she seems less than motivated? If she doesn't feel like running, maybe work on technique and stroking patterns, or relaxed grips and hands during the stroke, or hitting topspin serves from outside the court fence, or touch shots like topspin lobs or drop shots. Anything less intense might give her time to relax and then maybe you can kick up the pace next.

It takes all types, they said Connors would practice uber intensely for small amounts of time but McEnroe hated practice. That's one of the reason's Mc played so much doubles - it was his practice time.

jakeytennis 06-18-2013 06:37 PM

push her buttons to motivate her.
tell her that her competition is working harder.

more importantly, make it fun, so she will want to work harder!

asusundevils1971 06-18-2013 06:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TennisCJC (Post 7515981)
I am not a coach but I would be concerned about pushing an 11 year old too hard.

Would it make sense to do some low intensity training when she seems less than motivated? If she doesn't feel like running, maybe work on technique and stroking patterns, or relaxed grips and hands during the stroke, or hitting topspin serves from outside the court fence, or touch shots like topspin lobs or drop shots. Anything less intense might give her time to relax and then maybe you can kick up the pace next.

It takes all types, they said Connors would practice uber intensely for small amounts of time but McEnroe hated practice. That's one of the reason's Mc played so much doubles - it was his practice time.

He isn't looking to push her. He is looking to get the best out of the time he has with her. That is why he asked for some help to motivate her while he is with her. He said she was an 11 year old that only usually puts in 44% of effort during the lessons. As a coach you are doing what you can do to help these juniors achieve whatever level you can take them to. The first and foremost as a coach is teaching and put enjoyment into the game at all levels.

newpball 06-18-2013 08:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by austintennis2005 (Post 7515913)
she just doesnt want to give good effort except about 40% of the time... of course i try to urge/plead/beg her to try hard on every ball but she just doesnt have the mental focus that i would like to see. at least if she tried hard 75% of the time it would be workable...

I assume you give the parents frequent 'report cards' about her progress and mention concerns you have about her.

How serious you should be about these 'report cards' depends in my opinion on the expectations her parents have of you coaching her and how much you need this account.

newpball 06-18-2013 08:40 PM

I suppose I am the exception about thinking learning a sport should be fun. I hate it when people talk about "school should be fun". Yes there are fun moments but school is hard work and sport should be hard work as well, and so is playing piano, martial arts and plenty of other things.

Telling children to learn things so they can have fun is a disastrous strategy in my opinion.

But I know I am rowing against the popular stream here.

lightthestorm 06-18-2013 08:49 PM

Most successful coaches in my area do this with younger kids.

Look it's 2 hour lessons for I'm assuming 2-3 times a week (I take 1 hour lessons 3 times a week, attend a clinic on Saturday w/out tournament, hit with some ball machines or friends rest of the times).

Don't do tennis all 100% of the time. Give them frequent water breaks. Incorporate real life into this. Set a goal with her that she can work towards long term. Mix it up from time to time. Try to make it something that's tailored to her style.

If none of this works, tennis might not be right. Do you know if she plays basketball?

Ash_Smith 06-19-2013 12:48 AM

I would suggest if she is not putting in the effort you would expect consistently that you take a two pronged approach.

Firstly, I would agree your expectations together, sort of like a coach pupil contract. This "document" needs to cover the expectations from both sides - that is what you expect of her each session, but also (and perhaps more importantly) what she expects from you. Give her some time to think about this, as I doubt she will have even considered what she actually wants from her coach. This will start to give her some ownership and give you some bargaining chips to play with if you feel her effort is dropping. You could include using her PRE (perceived rate of execration) to monitor how much effort she feels she is making each session and so on...

Secondly, I would start to give her some ownership over the sessions. Be a little more subtle than just asking what she want's to do though, as that very rarely works well except with the most dedicated athletes! Help her define areas she would like to improve and then allow her, with your guidance, to design some of the drills and practices to develop those areas. Using open questioning techniques (e.g socratic questioning) you can really push her into thinking about why she wants to do certain things and how she could solve any problems. Given some ownership of the task at hand you should see her effort levels increase - as long as you have agreed what levels are expected in stage one above.

Hope that all makes sense, it's quite a high level concept (especially stage 2, which can go very wrong if your not confident in your ability as a coach to steer your pupil with great questioning to where they need to go), but it is an incredibly powerful technique for learning.

Cheers

austintennis2005 06-19-2013 07:52 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by asusundevils1971 (Post 7516000)
He isn't looking to push her. He is looking to get the best out of the time he has with her. That is why he asked for some help to motivate her while he is with her. He said she was an 11 year old that only usually puts in 44% of effort during the lessons. As a coach you are doing what you can do to help these juniors achieve whatever level you can take them to. The first and foremost as a coach is teaching and put enjoyment into the game at all levels.

yes, this is exactly right.. and Ash i appreciate your insights as well...

i feel like its my job as a coach to get the most out of a junior with potential and to figure out ways to motivate and encourage... i guess i just need to go back to worrying about things i can control and not worrying about things that are beyond my control

newpball 06-19-2013 07:54 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ash_Smith (Post 7516511)
Firstly, I would agree your expectations together, sort of like a coach pupil contract. This "document" needs to cover the expectations from both sides - that is what you expect of her each session, but also (and perhaps more importantly) what she expects from you.

I think such a 'contract' is great idea but with the parents not with the student. The parents pay for the lessons and she is a minor.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ash_Smith (Post 7516511)
Secondly, I would start to give her some ownership over the sessions. Be a little more subtle than just asking what she want's to do though, as that very rarely works well except with the most dedicated athletes!

Wow it seems you and I live in a complete different reality, giving an 11 year old ownership over the sessions and asking her what to do. :rolleyes:

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ash_Smith (Post 7516511)
Help her define areas she would like to improve and then allow her, with your guidance, to design some of the drills and practices to develop those areas.

If the coach needs help from the student on how do design drills then in my opinion the coach should change jobs.

If a kid has bad motivation make her sweat more, no sweat no gain!

Costagirl 06-19-2013 08:09 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by asusundevils1971 (Post 7516000)
He isn't looking to push her. He is looking to get the best out of the time he has with her. That is why he asked for some help to motivate her while he is with her. He said she was an 11 year old that only usually puts in 44% of effort during the lessons. As a coach you are doing what you can do to help these juniors achieve whatever level you can take them to. The first and foremost as a coach is teaching and put enjoyment into the game at all levels.

Correct...enjoyment is where we are soo lacking in the USA. I am a coach and an 11 yr old student is a toughie. One week they love it the next they love something else. The parents have them in oh so many activities these days...but at some point to play real tennis - it requires dedication to the sport. At this age - patience is key and injecting fun is even more key to keep them at least interested in tennis. Small increments of improvement will help remind them they excel at tennis and it just might be a worthy interesting sport after all. Good Luck - I feel ya on this one!

Larrysümmers 06-19-2013 09:03 AM

id just ask her whats up. maybe she doesnt like tennis that much, maybe shed rather just rally around than to compete, maybe you bore her.

Ash_Smith 06-19-2013 09:25 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by newpball (Post 7517181)
Wow it seems you and I live in a complete different reality, giving an 11 year old ownership over the sessions and asking her what to do. :rolleyes:

If the coach needs help from the student on how do design drills then in my opinion the coach should change jobs.

If a kid has bad motivation make her sweat more, no sweat no gain!

I think you maybe missed the point a little! By giving the girl some ownership of her programme and training, you will start to gain an understanding of her motivations and therefore her likely reasons for lacking in effort at some points. By keeping her engaged in what she is doing - by giving her some control, she is more likely to impart greater effort.

The fact that she is eleven is neither here nor there, this is a technique that can work at even younger ages - but as I said it requires a great deal of skill from the coach to pull off effectively otherwise lessons can just descend into nothing. The coach has to use effective and intelligent questionning techniques to guide the pupil - the same with designing drills! I ask my students regularly to design drills that will help them practice a certain technique or tactic - by asking them to consider the situation you increase the level of learning as they have to actually consider the implications of what they are doing and what the situation is/needs to be to illicit a certain response. It's a very powerful thing for the coach to actually leverage control to the pupil - but it isn't something most coaches are prepared to do as they don't like not being in "control".

By your post I should also give up coaching...or maybe there is more than one way to get to the end point :o)

klu375 06-19-2013 11:00 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by austintennis2005 (Post 7515913)
coaches, any ideas?

i have an 11 year old girl that i am coaching...has a lot of things going for her--very nice topspin on both sides and serve, very fast, very tall for her age...

she just doesnt want to give good effort except about 40% of the time... of course i try to urge/plead/beg her to try hard on every ball but she just doesnt have the mental focus that i would like to see. at least if she tried hard 75% of the time it would be workable...

any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Does she play any tournaments and how does she do in them? Make her play tournaments - the whole tournament structure acts as a great motivator.

TCF 06-19-2013 11:40 AM

Austin....Our group of coaches and parents have a ton of experience at this age. All of the posters are well meaning, but frankly you are facing huge obstacles.

The fact is with girls age 11 is not really that 'young'. The dynamic is that she will have her tail kicked by 8-9-10 year olds who live for the game. There are girls who by age 8-9 are simply amazing and destroy all the more casual 11 year olds. Thats just the cold hard facts and many girls 11-12 run from that 'humiliation'. She may be seeing these little ones performing in practice, at tournaments, at the local park. Her defense mechanism is lack of full effort.

We have had many a girl reach that age 11-12 and they simply change. Many these days are starting their cycles at that age. We have a girl who just turned 12 and quit tennis.

The pressures are immense. The majority of her friends will not think it is cool to sweat, a ton of social pressures. The majority of girls at that age start wanting to hang out with their girls, forget adults, do their thing.

Add in the fact that junior tennis is isolating in many ways, not cool at school, a lot of hard work in the hot sun....and its easy to see the deck is stacked against you.

In my experience when they reach age 11-12 there are 2 kinds of tennis girls....those REALLY into it, they just love it, the dresses, the attention when they do well, maybe a Sharapova or Serena really clicks with them. With the rest though it is like pulling teeth.

So follow all the nice advice given here and best of luck, but in the end do not take it personally, she is in the majority once they hit that age.

boramiNYC 06-19-2013 11:56 AM

maybe take her to a pro tournament? even a challenger level or D1 scene? Seeing up close the athleticism and hard work they put in on the court and compete and the joy they get out by winning a point, game, and match can be quite different experience from just watching from TV. Something like this could stay in kids' mind for a long time and show direction and give motivation.

newpball 06-19-2013 12:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TCF (Post 7517590)
We have had many a girl reach that age 11-12 and they simply change. Many these days are starting their cycles at that age. We have a girl who just turned 12 and quit tennis.

The pressures are immense. The majority of her friends will not think it is cool to sweat, a ton of social pressures. The majority of girls at that age start wanting to hang out with their girls, forget adults, do their thing.

Add in the fact that junior tennis is isolating in many ways, not cool at school, a lot of hard work in the hot sun....and its easy to see the deck is stacked against you.

One wonders where the parents are in all of this?

In my mind there is nothing wrong for parents to tell their kids to take at least one sport seriously and that means sweat, lots of it.


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