I see we have some Quickstart advocates here and thats fine. Quickstart is nice at age 3-6. And it is very nice for even older kids who are beginners. A beginning player at age 7 could benefit from a few months of Quickstart.
We also run a Quickstart program and the kids bore very easily. Sure they learn the technical aspects as a poster said. But our kids, almost 100% of them, whether they start Quickstart at age 4 or 8, progress through the program and are ready to move on in 6 months at the most. Most kids do not want to do more than 3-4 months of mini tennis.
Kids will get bored of anything if you don't challenge them and make the activities fun and interesting. Do they get less bored in a non quickstart junior program? On the same note, there are plenty of kids that want to eat ice cream for breakfast...that doesn't mean it is the best thing for them.
I don't claim to be a "quickstart advocate"...I can only speak to the experience that I have had with both quickstart and the use of the low compression balls and 60' court for training competitive kids.
I feel like a lot of the problems with implementing quickstart style programs is the attitude that some of your wording shows. Mini-tennis (which with a regular ball I find to be a great warm-up activity for anyone), translation...this is not REAL tennis, this is tennis for little kids. Kids do not want to hear that. We had similar issues when we started using the low compression and foam balls more around here. "We hate these balls, these are for the little kids." That's what our good 8-10 years olds used to say. They used
to say that because after we started using those balls, they started to actually be able to easily rip the kind of topspin that we had been teaching them to. Once they grooved the technique, it was much easier to translate those swings to the normal ball.
Of course our kids can look over onto the next court and see elite 9 year old girls playing amazing full court tennis, so that may be the problem. Perhaps in a vacuum they would not see the limitations of Quickstart.
Quickstart has its purpose, let beginning kids get into tennis. Our issue is with the mandatory stuff up through the 10s. It just is not a good idea.
We have some pretty good kids at our facility. The kids and the adults can all see them training on full courts with regular tennis balls and see how good they are. The same kids don't really complain anymore about using the low compression balls and the 60' court. We have invested in making a culture change in how that is presented to them. It isn't, "oh we are using the yellow lines and the squishy balls...these are for little kids" anymore...it is more like "oh, yellow lines and squishy balls...I guess I have to hit spin now." It is normal to them, and it isn't presented as a step down or something inferior and that is a big part of the equation.
As for the mandatory part, I think that is at the very least jumping the gun at this stage. There should be a gradual increase in the number of quickstart tournaments, and maybe down the road they can look at transitioning over or keeping a decent mixture. Then again, when has the USTA ever done anything that seemed reasonable and intelligent?
I would also like the poster who said it produces high quality players to list some of them. And not high quality 10s and 12s. Please educate me on the top ranked 18s who played mini tennis until age 10-11?
I can only assume this is at least partially addressed to me, even though you didn't actually address me directly. If it is, then I can only do what I did in a previous post...which is detail some of the success that our kids have had coming up through a program that uses aspects of quickstart, but is clearly geared towards high performance juniors. As I detailed before, they transition out of the low compression balls and smaller courts as their technical foundation becomes more advanced and more solid. The really exceptional ones can move along a little more quickly, but the different balls and court dimensions can always be used for specific purposes.
I would never claim that "mini-tennis", or quickstart, or whatever you choose to call it is the end all be all of instruction. The different balls, the different court dimensions, they are tools. They can be very good tools. I use them for many different things...and when I was working on shot tolerance with an adult in a lesson the other day and broke out the foam balls, at first he was skeptical, but after our first 200 ball rally in the service boxes taking full speed swings, spinning the crap out of those balls, moving our feet like crazy...he ceased to think of them as solely little kids balls.