As part of the USTA National Faculty coaching program, I had t the opportunity to participate as one of the coaches of a National Camp last weekend at the training center in Orlando, Florida. The camp involved another ten coaches from very important developmental programs around the US as well as some of the Player Development leaders from the USTA.

Along with the many hours on court with the kids, we had as many hours of meetings with the goals to share positive actions that each program and coach is taking in the development of the next generations of American champions, and obviously about the challenges that we all face daily on our different areas of the country.

I always leave these meetings with so many new things in my mind to try to incrementally incorporate. One of my biggest takeaways from all the meetings and good conversation of the four days is that ultimately, our job and goal is to help our kids develop mental, physical and emotional tools and habits to become better problem solvers (initially on the court, but eventually in life itself).

Jumping into a tennis court for a match against any opponent brings a whole bunch of problems and challenges that we are expected to figure out faster than our opponent can in order to come out victorious.  There is simply no way around it, so coaches and parents are responsible to embrace and teach our kids to grab onto the mindset that it is their priority to be humble to approach each challenge, and to spend our time finding ways to solve them.

The stories that we all hear about the household names of the game of tennis all include great challenges, and I firmly believe that their constant attitude of solving each small situation is what eventually accumulates into big successes.

Preaching this is not enough of an answer. The most important step for us coaches, parents and team leaders is to create “problems” for our players to have to constantly solve at the same time that the tools are sharpened.

At the end of the day, I want to be a part of the growth and development of leaders, champions and very good people, and I know that helping them learn to problem solve is going to make a difference.

See you on the courts!!