5-Y-Old Great Player

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by TennisBro, Mar 22, 2014.

  1. LakeSnake

    LakeSnake Professional

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    Certainly in classical music, another highly complex and technical field, the top performers tend to start quite early. Great players seem to start around 4. Of the really awesome guitar players I have seen, their technique seems to be more or less there at least by 12 or so.

    But you can be a late starter and still be good enough to play rock :)
     
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  2. TennisBro

    TennisBro New User

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    My son does not speak Cantonese but Mandarin and English, and I do know a few local tennis coaches around. Expats in Guangzhou, who are pros in this area, do not seem to have crossed paths with me. Many in this business that I know seem to mostly be interested in money rather than anything else and they have a rather limited knowledge in some areas of young learners' development. There's a primary school that specializes in tennis here in Guangzhou; however, at this point it is too early for my son to start the sport so seriously and in a boarding school.

    I really hope you don't have me for a troll and now an old grumpy one too. I 'd like to think there's no overparenting in my family as we just spend the time together. Selective as oppose to do anything you want my son is what we are attempting. In any case, my boy's crazy about biking, swimming and soccer; he takes me for a 3-5 mile bike ride sometimes, and he can really swim for while in 7 feet deep pool. Yes, you can call me crazy.

    Warm Regards,
    Bragging Bro
     
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  3. Ash_Smith

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  4. julian

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  5. mightyrick

    mightyrick Legend

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    Well, it probably isn't worth getting into an argument about complexity, technicality, and difficulty of music... but I'll make this statement...

    ... if a classical player works hard enough, they might be able to play jazz one day.

    Many of the world's greatest guitarists started after the age of 10. Even classical guitarists would have an incredibly difficult time (if not impossible) duplicating technique from many great jazz, fusion, or rock guitarists. I'm talking guys like Allan Holdsworth (who invents his own phrasing), Stanley Jordan, Eric Johnson, Eddie Van Halen, Hendrix, Malmsteen.

    Classical technique is far different than Jazz, Fusion, or Rock (Neoclassical Metal) technique. A classical guitarist would not be able to pick up an electric guitar and do what those guys do. It would take years of learning.

    All of the guitar styles are incredibly technical and complex and take years to master. I don't think learning at 4 or 14 makes much of a difference -- based on history.
     
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  6. LakeSnake

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    For sure, that's a different instrument and CGers can't do that stuff.

    But _can_ you start CG after 10 and be a top player? Doesn't happen too much, just too complex and structured and technical. Rock and jazz technique is simpler and those disciplines rely more on soft skills, composing, creativity, personality, etc.

    Is tennis more about hard skills or soft skills?
     
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  7. BMC9670

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    Music, at least popular music, and tennis are not comparable as being a "good" musician is subjective and being a good tennis player is based on results. Heck, when U2 formed in middle school, they didn't even know how to play their instruments. Some consider The Edge one of the greatest of all time, while others think he's a hack. If a middle schooler takes up the guitar, he could hit it big. But if a tennis player starts this late, guess what, they will never reach the top of the game.

    Now, classical music might be more analogous as you have to reach a certain level of proficiency to compete, yes compete, for the limited number of opportunities as a professional classical performer. And guess what, it's nearly impossible to find a top classical, money making musician that did not start early and was a standout at an early age.

    Again, it's just the math. These things are so competitive for so few spots at the top.
     
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  8. PittsburghDad

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    Maybe off topic. .. I've got a 7 yr old girl thats doing quite well for herself. Just grinding out fundamentals in a relaxed but technically sound setting. Even gotten some much appreciated help from a coach with experience guiding a current player from Grade school through WTA. There's good technique and potential. But she's 7. There is zero reason to hope for anything beyond potential fulfillment. Let it play out. If they are good enough you'll know.

    Off topic part...We. just had a boy. Of course people ask "When does he start playing tennis? " Honestly, not until he demands it. If. But at three he'll sure as heck be hitting soft toss left handed and getting grounders. If you're going to drill a skill set early for a boy sure seems like baseball over tennis.
     
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  9. PittsburghDad

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    One benefit to the early hard work...
    I'll concede that perhaps what a kid looks like at 789 has no bearing on 121314. You guys have way more experience than i do. You've seen it. But when a kid is that good that young , opportunitIes arise that you normally wouldn't have. Now if you're already a top notch junior coach or made of money, it probably doesn't matter. But if you're new to the game and middle class it does.
    There's no chance my daughter would be getting the opportunities she gets without the fact that she was going so hard at 5. It can really help when a kid is smooth, powerful and technically sound at so young an age.
    You also get an engagement and excitement level from top coaches that really helps. You get to pick and choose the right environment.
     
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  10. Chotobaka

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    You mean he doesn't have an iPhone? Child abuse! This kid is probably doomed based on Pop's vicarious obsession with his being "gifted".
     
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  12. PittsburghDad

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    Ours is free. Had offers to have her travel paid for. There's no chance that happens without major work at an extremely young age. And IMHO, that's a ceiling changer.
    Doesn't mean you have to drill sergeant a four year old. But you can do a ton of fundamentals. In a very fun way. Its not hard to find 60-90 minutes a day at that age.
     
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  14. LakeSnake

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    Another data point: a classical guitarist friend of mine who taught youngsters thought that 7 was the best age to start guitar. He claimed that the ones who started younger didn't have any advantage and the "late starters" (who started at 7) tended to catch up.
    ..........
    Still, at the top levels, the best performers didn't start at 7, they started at 4ish.
     
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  15. BMC9670

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    I agree with you when "early success" is defined at 5-6-7, but the bold statement above is misleading IMO. If we're talking about "great" players - top money making pros, virtually all started earlier than 9 and showed exceptional success by 11-12.

    And yes, you're completely right that early success can be a blessing or a curse. However, it's a trait found in all great players, but the math means for most it will be a curse. Still waiting on an example of a kid that started late and didn't show success until later in the teens and has made it to the top of the game.

    I hear it a lot in junior tennis circles "the 12's and 14's are meaningless, it's about development". Why, then did virtually all top players have success in these age groups? I think it's simply parents trying hold out hope for something special or coaches trying to keep students. In reality, if a kid isn't showing something exceptional by 11-12, they may end up good, but will not reach the top levels of tennis.
     
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  16. PittsburghDad

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    If done properly, I think it can actually be very beneficial to practice perfect technique, a lot, and very young. IF they always believe that its hard work that made them better. Not some vague idea of natural talent.
    That attention to detail, self confidence, and calm focus shows up everywhere. In school, in other sports, everywhere. Learning to read doesn't worry a kid that spent a couple hundred hours perfecting an inside out FH.
    I've nearly cried when I put the tape of M at 5 making contact 1/2 the time, next to her at 7 blistering heavy forehands past kids 11-12. Good players.
    Not because of how much she improved. But because of the magnificent beaming smile on her face. "I did that Daddy. I worked hard.". I could SEE the lesson of hard work setting in.
    Its never about beating people. Its about exploring what you can do with with hard work. That doesn't go wrong.
    I deeply believe in a whole lot of work. Early. If the motives stay sound.
     
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  17. TCF

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  18. spun_out

    spun_out Rookie

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    Can the opposite be said to be true? Can we say that kids who don't show exceptional talent in tennis at 3-6 can blossom into talented tennis players at 9-12? If yes, then can the same be said for kids who do not know exceptional talent in any sport at 3-6?
     
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  21. BMC9670

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    Yes, we agree mostly. I do think that if a player has (or should I say if the parents have) pro aspirations, starting at 9 is too late. Maybe start competing at 9. And yes, many pros played soccer early on, but let's not kid ourselves, they were also putting in some serious tennis training by all standards.
     
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  22. PittsburghDad

    PittsburghDad Semi-Pro

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    The FL days are over. Kids will be popping up from all over. Suburban Kansas. Brooklyn. Whereever.
    Not in spite of not going FL route, but BECAUSE they didn't. They aren't fire breathing Russian dragons at 8. They are laid back. Spending relaxed hours feeling on deep athletic levels what their back leg feels like on that perfect shot.
    At least that sounds good when you're still shaking off snow. :).
    It doesn't hurt to have a top 50 player showing up and saying "Don't buy it. I never left."
     
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  24. BMC9670

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    Good. OK. We have one, although that is WTA, not ATP.
     
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  25. Topspin Shot

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    In all fairness, Sloane has unbelievable athletic talent and parents who were top athletes.
     
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  29. Topspin Shot

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    If she were a bad athlete, she wouldn't be top 20 regardless. But most WTA pros didn't start as late as Sloane did; she's an outlier.
     
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  32. LakeSnake

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    Okay, you're going a little far here. Human beings are not little programmed robots that have their destinies set at birth. Not their tennis ability, their speed, their intelligence, their height, nothing. All the genetics interact with the environment to create the final product. These superathlete kids that start at 9 were doing things in the interim to develop their abilities, to a lesser or a greater degree. What I have seen is that parents tend to underemphasize the amount of training their child does so they seem more talented.
     
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  34. TennisBro

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    TCF, with all due respect, could you please provide some compelling evidence to your professional knowledge of young learners in the development of tennis and to your familiarity with the top 100 ATP players who have started at 9 or later?
     
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  35. PittsburghDad

    PittsburghDad Semi-Pro

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    So if Serena and Venus never touch a racket until 9 they end up in the same spot? Don't buy it.
     
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  36. wannabe good

    wannabe good Rookie

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    It's strange that you chose Serena and Venus as examples to support your side, i.e. the need for early specialization. While we can't prove it, the idea of Serena becoming the GOAT that she is, no matter how she spent her early childhood, seems very plausible to me.
     
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  38. wannabe good

    wannabe good Rookie

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    What about you and your knowledge? Are you familiar with kids who looked extremely impressive at age six, just to regress to pathetic mediocrity by their teenage years? Are you aware how frequent these cases are and that they are more the rule than an exception?
     
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  39. wannabe good

    wannabe good Rookie

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    Slightly off topic,what is "slow feet" to you? A player who under performs in sprints and spider drills? Is there more to it?
     
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  42. BMC9670

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    I don't think anyone on the forum has particularly close insight into top 100 players' early development, so let's not get into the "what do you know?" argument and keep it amicable here.

    While I tend to agree that "success" or "results" prior to 8-9 isn't really an indicator of the future, the evidence in virtually all top players says that they "started early" (before 8-9) and had exceptional results by 12-14. Take from it what you will. Does that mean the started at 6 and were "naturals"? Does it mean they started at 6 and "stunk" but had the right resources and training? We really don't know. But we do know they were tearing it up by 12.

    TCF found Sloane Stephens on the WTA side as an exception on the women's side - and their may be other outliers as there are always exceptions. Don't know of any on the men's side.
     
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  43. PittsburghDad

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    There is a major difference that's being blurred here. The difference between the results and the type of work.
    You can convince me what a kid kooks like and what kind if hardware they get young doesn't matter. Fair point.
    But you'll never convince me that the type of work and quality if practice doesn't matter at a very young age.
     
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  45. Postpre

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    TCF, could you elaborate on what this drill specifically entails?

    BTW, Mary Pierce started tennis at age 10. Marcello Rios at 11.

    Drabik's work is important. Here is a nice short article on coordination and movement skill development which references Drabik.

    http://www.performbetter.com/webapp...51&catalogId=10751&languageId=-1&pagename=209

     
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  46. TCF

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  47. LeeD

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    Good stuff, that spider drill.
    Today I did it, just for fun. I"m 65, haven't run since 2007, hobbled by a couple torn tendons in my left ankle.
    Starting with a 76 resting heartbeat, no warmup, and 20.3 seconds later, 132 heartbeat.
    I mentioned in the fitness section that when I was 28, I should have easily broken 14 seconds. I was the quickest and fastest person in any sport I've participated in, including 3 years of varsity basketball, and 2 years of varsity football. Sophmore year, started both ways, JV's.
     
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  48. BMC9670

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    Should have? Well, did you or didn't you? If you didn't, maybe you should have warmed up.:)
     
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  49. ProgressoR

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    How about sending him on a course to empower 5 years olds facing pushy parents?
     
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  50. ijgill

    ijgill New User

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    I have to agree w. TCF. We are new to this sport, so I am not an expert. My son is 10, my daughter is 12 (she does not play tennis, she does ballet). In both tennis and ballet, I have seen kids start "late" i.e. 8/9 and do great. We even have one girl in ballet that started at 13 and is passing many of the better dancers by. At tennis, I have started to see the girls who started very young, had early success, now they are in transition between 12/14s. Things aren't going their way. Some have quit, some are simply playing less than they used to. I don't see the advantage to super early (esp 6 and under training). Ballet instructor once described it as "herding cats" best laugh of the day.
     

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