Originally Posted by BirdieLane
GA, To a certain extent, with a lot of hard work and dedication, most players will 'get there' eventually. Just not on the same timetable. ('There' being their ultimate level or tennis ceiling.) The most important thing is that the players passion for the game is driving them to excel by working hard and staying mentally fresh.
Lets clone a junior player and consider a few training cases for those clones age 9 thru 13:
Train 6 days a week:
Clone A: 4 hrs of tennis everyday
Clone B: 2 hrs of tennis, two hours of soccer
Clone C: 2 hrs of tennis, one hour of fitness, one hour of tennis channel
Predictions? I think it's extremely hard to say. If you make an assumption that a player will peak after x hours (i.e. 10,000 hr rule) you could argue each clone will reach peak at some point and be relatively 'even', it's just that Clone A will get there first. But is that the goal?
Clone A will definitely have more success in 12s and 14s but there will be a question of burnout/freshness and also injuries and overuse. But Sharapova and Vika make a good case for this route.
Clone B will take longer, but perhaps an increased athletic ceiling, along with increased mental freshness and more resistence to injury could ultimately result in a better player. This player would be a lot fresher mentally at age 17 and 18 than Clone B who had been grinding 4 hrs a day since age 9. Note that Federer had to chose between soccer and tennis at age 12 I think. He would be best argument for this Clone.
Clone C is a slight spin on B. Not a ton of time on the court but also very focused and immersed in tennis. This player would be more mentally fresh than Clone A and possibly have a higher tennis IQ than Clone B because of obsession with not only playing, but also watching the game. I see this in many sports where kids that really watch and devour the game have significantly higher sport specific IQ than those that just play it. Hingis might be best example of this model.
At the end of the day, if the passion is there and the improvement is constant, you are doing it right. But also please remember...the joy is truly in the journey...not the destination.
Wow!!! Awesome post and I couldn't agree more. That's why there is no universal blue print. It must be individualized to your kid and based on what fuels the "love" for that kid and not based on what the parent imposes on the kid (My daughter would be a hybrid Clone B and C). My 12 yr. old daughter plays about 10 hrs. per week on average (but totally locked in and focused) . . . about 1 tournament every 4-6 weeks (a lot of practice matches). She is also a competitive Irish dancer. She has one of the lighter tennis schedules but her love continues to grow . . . I can't remember her not leaving the court smiling and happy.
If I forced Clone A's schedule on her, it would kill the love and ultimately she would either quit or, like some parents, I would have to force her to do it and eventually she would burn out (this could also have negative consequences for her life outside of tennis and after tennis; you can do serious long term damage to a young kid by living through them).
There's no secret sauce . . .the biggest mistake is parents forcing or imposing schedules on their kids . . .