Tournament tips…

I had a nice conversation with a family from the Netherlands who is considering moving to the Boston area next year, and they wanted to find out more about what we do for training. I asked a lot of questions regarding the kid’s training and competition schedule in order to try to set up a plan during their time in Boston. The thing that stood out was something that I have known, but somehow ignored to fully appreciate in regard to tennis in the US and in New England. The mother of the kid told me that in the Netherlands, there are only about 10 to 12 junior tournaments per year in which her son can participate in order to accumulate points for his ranking and to try to be eligible for the regional and national teams that provide more training opportunities.

In our region, we pretty much have an opportunity almost every single weekend to sign up and go battle good competition, but we don’t always approach it correctly. We need to see this as an opportunity to use competition as an opportunity for learning and growing EVERY single time that we get out there. Here are the basic truths: We don’t learn if we don’t fail, and we don’t grow if the failures don’t hurt. As parents and coaches, we need have our priorities straight. We are obviously going to be cheering for our players do well, but it is OUR responsibility to be the leaders in the growing/learning approach when things don’t go exactly as hoped for. The kids will only learn it if we exemplify it!!!!

Here are a few nuggets to keep in mind:

  • 99% of the excuses are true. However, champions find ways to encounter them and deal with them better and more often than the rest of the field. If we are committed to developing champions, we are committing to face the excuses and deal with them.
  • Junior tennis in general is played without referees, and kids make their own line calls (same in college). Because of this, there are a lot of close calls (they are mostly “close” and are not always “bad” unless they are being seen by the parent of the opponent). I am the father of three girls who have always participated in competitive sports, and It is crazy how our own eyes can be soooooo one sided when our kid is playing and a foul is called, a flag gets thrown, an out ball is called, and more.
  • College coaches don’t ever want a player or a parent to mention that they did not achieve a particular result because of the result of bad calls.
  • The other thing that college coaches HATE (especially the good ones) is when a player falls into a pattern of pulling out of back-draws and consolation.
  • It is important to keep these in mind because we have high goals as a program for our players, and we all need to learn these lessons early to make them simply good habits. 
  • And remember….. it is ALWAYS easier said than done!!!!!

It is a funny career that I choose because I really enjoy every minute that I spend in the growth and development of a player, and yet, I see myself as a developmental coach which means that I do everything that I do to prepare them for when they are not around me and our team. I guess it is a little sad way to look at it, but I understand my choice, and I while I hate goodbyes, I love knowing that our team has provided tools for players to continue growing and excelling in life after their junior tennis years.