Originally Posted by TCF
Good question. I do not know how much is taught and how much in just born in a player. There is obviously some blend of natural ability and hard work to develop it. But I think you see the signs of a special player along the way even if they take longer to put it all together.
Many a coach or parent has seen a group of kids take up tennis. Out of a group of 10, 1-2 kids pick it up quickly, a bunch are in the middle, and 1-2 kids are just flat out awful, despite the best coaching.
I highly doubt any kid who is just awful after 4-5 lessons at age 9 would somehow magically develop into a money making pro, even if he worked harder than a naturally talented kid.
I could be wrong. If any coach or parent knows of a kid who looked way worse than all the kids in class after a month or two of lessons, yet turned out to be the best player long term, lets hear the stories.
I know what you mean, and I have seen the exact same phenomenon in group lessons at the club where I train, but I don't believe you can't see which one of 10 young beginners is going to become the best during the first months or even years. I'm just curious, do you know when coordination and motor-skills are fully developed in kids? Because I don't know, but nine years old would seem like too early for these skills to be fully developed in all kids? In some kids this process might have come a longer way, and maybe this "talent" you're seeing in some kids, is just their temporary superiority in coordination? Something that is going to even out a lot during their next years of development? And then these kids get more attention from the coaches (believing they have "talent"), their parents also think this temporary superiority in coordination is the "it" factor or some in-born talent. The parents then sign their "wonderkid" up for more group lessons and private lessons, and they nurture that "talent". The "wonderkid" might end up as a moneymaking pro, while the other kids from the beginner lesson mentioned give up tennis believing their "talent" lies in some other field like painting or math or whatever. Every coach out there should read "Talent Code", "Bounce" and "Mindset". Since you seem like a very dedicated coach I suspect you have already read at least one of these books, but if you haven't I strongly recommend you do. All of these books have changed my life, and "talent" has become a profanity to me.
By the way, I have read that Bernard Tomic was never at the top of his group when he was a beginner many years ago, but he worked really hard and had a good coach and look at him now. It's the hours that matters, not the so-called "talent".