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Injuries in Junior Athletes — not just Tennis and how it is Connected to their Technique

Truth be told most techniques in tennis have a correlation with the development of an injury over the course of a players/athletes career if not modified and/or amended for that specific player/athlete. It is that simple. The majority of these players are taught a specific technique to ‘play’ the game and yet these techniques are one and the same in the onset of injury. Ironically, players within the developmental spectrum will not notice an immediate discomfort due to the somewhat pliability of their growing bodies. Unfortunately, once this development phase has run its cause the player becomes more susceptible to the very same technique they were taught years prior. But it doesn’t need to be this way.

The principles of human movement are readily available for all and to help navigate the core principles that are responsible for the development of the respective discrete and serial skills. Unfortunately, these are often filled with scientific jargon that make them not as readily accessible to those in need. The foundation of AM8 International has been built on one of these principles — accessibility. In simple terms, this means more often than not the scientific jargon is left behind — to an extent. Rather, the scientific jargon is integrated into our programmatic analyses, for example, but over time to ensure the reader is placed on a learning curve akin to performance progressions.

By this logic whether a player/athlete, parent and/or coach you’re privy to the science in a progressive format which has an underlying purpose of heightening your general knowledge base — you bet progressively, to align with your performance advancements, progressively, so they both run parallel to optimise your results.

It is often unknown to those involved at the developmental level that injuries are being developed in conjunction with the conditioning of a new skill. It is the specific discrete skills, if not given enough attention, that when the serial skill is in action through play that the player becomes susceptible to the onset of injury — whether in 6 weeks, 6 months or 6 years. A common example in tennis is “tennis elbow” which can readily come about by a player making contact with the oncoming ball behind their elbow. It’s that simple. The pressure placed on this joint becomes immense over time and the elbow is not designed to withstand this force. Rather, the player should be conditioned to make contact in front of their body whilst extending through the ball. For a more detailed synopsis be sure to delve into the What is Your Game Missing Series with the technical complexities of varying techniques shared throughout a significant number of elite players on both the WTA and ATP tours for an incredible eye opener.

Using the elbow as an example, over the course of an hour of play, a player will make contact with their groundstroke at least one hundred time or greater — depending on the level of play. By all accounts this is a minimum as for a more advanced player this will track in the high hundreds if not more, whilst a player that is earlier in The Pathway will potentially remain close to that initial hundred. Irrespective of the total the concern is in the number.

Whether one hundred to nine hundred plus times of a repetitive motion that involves direct pressure on an elbow joint, the cause for concern is substantial. And that’s merely inside the scope of 60 minutes!

To mitigate injuries from the beginning and/or from here on in it is important to be conscious of the pitfalls of techniques — not all techniques are good for your body and/or conducive towards developing an optimal performance. But I have good news. The core techniques that have been backed by >150,000 inferences — that’s a significant dataset, align with functional movement patterns and adhere to core principles of biomechanics and in turn human movement. In other words, they’re designed to mitigate injury and have been scientifically proven to be attributed towards elite performance. And by elite we’re specifically referring to a Top 10 tennis ranking.

To learn more about Injuries in Junior Athletes — not just Tennis and how it is Connected to their Technique, head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis and head to Episode 38. More? Catch up on our Tips over on TikTokTwitterThreads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.

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Why are the Top Tennis Players Dropping like flies? Periodisation

A player’s performance follows a patterns and more precisely a cycle that allows them to peak within a predetermined window if the work is done to ensure a proper plan is put in place and adheres to the rulers of periodisation. For a more in depth understanding of periodisation there is ample amount of research available. I’d encourage those of you who are intrigued to delve into the research to be careful of those who claim to share otherwise as this is an important topic to understand and just as important to be cautious of those that may lead you down a less than desired path that may very well cause injury to overload the player/athlete.

A thorough plan involves sprints — short bursts of high intensity output, followed by a decrease in load akin to tapering in the lead up to a planned peak performance. This is merely a simplified example of an effective plan that has multiple cycles throughout a season. Unfortunately, the understanding around periodisation is often lost or increasingly ignored when it comes to developmental players/athletes who then succumb to injury due to doing too much, or achieve less than desired results due to their planning not being conducive for the predetermined period i.e. at an event/tournament.

It is common practice for players/athletes to have carefully crafted plans that follow distinct periods throughout the duration of a calendar year. These periods are the aforementioned sprints that also accommodate the need to taper and ultimately peak.

Those on the WTA and/or ATP tour have (or should have) carefully crafted plans set in place. It is all too common, however, for players/athletes outside the Top 100 to participate in tournaments near week after week in their quest to secure those maiden ranking points. But these players/athletes are just as susceptible as those inside the Top 100 to developing an injury due to poor prior planning.

Those ranked inside the Top 100 primarily have carefully crafted plans in place that adhere to periodisation guidelines. If a player/athlete inside this ranking range does not have their season planned to peak at multiple times throughout the year, they’re more susceptible to their performance regressing and/or developing an injury due to overloading. Either way, without a plan the outcome is not positive for the player/athlete.

This begs the question then why developmental players/athletes are often not following carefully crafted plans and why the majority of coaches at this level are not structuring a player’s performances to peak at set times throughout the season.

By integrating periodisation at the developmental level players/athletes are progressively being conditioned to train in cycles and in turn learn how their body peaks and reap the rewards as their game evolves. To the contrary, players/athletes who do not have access to this planning and/or structure do not benefit from these peak performance cycles and are more susceptible to being left behind opposed to progressing and/or overtraining that will in time lead to a more serious injury and the player/athlete will become sidelined. 

Implementing a structured plan for each individual player/athlete is fundamental at the developmental stage to not merely condition peak performance cycles, but to ensure each player/athlete gains an understanding of how their body works with increased loads and/or demands. This heightened understanding by the player/athlete of how their body ‘works’ can help prevent injuries now and long-term whilst builds a healthy baseline for coaches to work with as the player/athlete progresses whilst as an added benefit, being a positive performance indicator for a conducive and reciprocal coach-athlete relationship.

To learn more about Why are the Top Tennis Players Dropping like flies? Periodisation, head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis and head to Episode 37. More? Catch up on our Tips over on TikTokTwitterThreads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.

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When Should Tennis Players Take Time Off if They Become Sick: the Balancing Act

At times a player/athlete may indicate symptoms akin to being ‘sick’ when they’re otherwise healthy. Symptoms typical of a cold and/or flu may present themselves in varying forms during times when the player/athlete has a vigorous and/or extensive training load with limited periods of rest — if at all. These are key indicators of over-training that should be taken seriously — including time off with the necessary rest. Whilst general ‘sickness’ happens to the best of us, these symptoms can come about in otherwise healthy individuals when their training hasn’t factored in periods of rest. And that underlines the importance of periodisation.

For those who are unfamiliar, periodisation in its simplest terms represents more concise planning to reach that ‘next’ peak performance. These performance peaks are oftentimes around key events and/or tournaments as the training is structured towards the player/athlete reaching this ‘level’ of play around that time. Done right it can have incredible benefits and oftentimes goes hand-in-hand with the professional sporting world. I’ll hold off on distinguishing this level of planning ‘just for’ the elite as it needs to be implemented prior to ensure a player/athlete can peak at a given time — from an ITF event through to the beginning of a Grand Slam.

What becomes problematic is in the limited rest periods at the elite level, primarily in tennis with back-to-back events typical throughout the season. However, not every player ‘wins’ a tournament which allows ‘days off’ between events. And for those who ‘win’ they’ll often have additional rest periods added to their periodisation that may also include withdrawing from a pre-planned tournament to ensure this level of rest is achieved. But for the developmental player in their initial 10 Years of Play this is still a fundamental behaviour to integrate into your training load and to be mindful of during times of increased play. You need rest, too.

It is important here to note when adhering to a set plan rest can come in varying forms including active rest that may involve ‘other’ sports or a reduced on-court load if the player/athlete is otherwise healthy. Obviously it is clear (or should be) that if a player/athlete is sick they should be recovering — at home.

If the player/athlete is healthy but feeling less than 100% modification is key. This includes touch work that develops a players/athletes hand-eye coordination, for example, that can be applied in varying settings and/or drills. But it is fundamental to be mindful of how a player/athlete is feeling to begin. Over-stressing to over exerting a player/athlete when they’re feeling subpar mentally, for example, still has the potential to lead to an injury due to a misstep to mistiming — accidents happen.

Becoming familiar with periodisation for all involved can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Not only is it an active plan committed towards by both the player and the coach, it also allows the parent and/or guardian an overview of what’s happening, what’s involved and points of discussion for that triangular relationship. It is also a key planner for rest — periods of down time that are absolutely critical for the player/athlete to enjoy life ‘outside of tennis’ but also for the parents and/or guardian to plan in advance for these times, whether that means holidays, time with family and/or other hobbies/activities that the player/athlete enjoys away from the court. Keeping this balance will heighten a players/athlete commitment to their sport as it can be viewed as a reward (and should be) so they can recoup for the next ‘period’ ahead whilst keeping that balance front and centre which means limiting the likelihood of them becoming sick due to over-training.

To learn more about When Should Tennis Players Take Time Off if They Become Sick: the Balancing Act, head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis and head to Episode 36. More? Catch up on our Tips over on TikTokTwitterThreads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.

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Body Image, Self-Worth and Tennis Players: A Coach’s Responsibility

How a tennis player sees themselves matters. How an individual sees themselves matters. How a human sees themselves matters. And this includes how a child sees themselves — it matters. Irrespective of the level of play, oftentimes this level is associated with a players/athletes self-worth. This needs to stop. How a player/athlete sees themselves starts from an early age and stay with them as they mature — shaped by those they’re exposed to and the commentary of those around them. Unfortunately, it is not always positive. At the same rate, those that are ‘around’ a player/athlete can be incredibly broad due to the role of social media throughout the past decade which has grown to influence developmental players/athletes and higher — impacting the way they see themselves.

Whilst this topic is a significant one in itself and is much broader than the tennis courts and/or developmental cycle of a player/athlete, it is just as important and applicable. The commentary of those around a player/athlete can be controlled to an extent when they’re in an environment where they feel safe, valued and heard. It remains a coaches responsibility to shape this environment and to ensure it is conducive to not simply a player’s performance but also their general wellbeing which happens to include their self-worth.

This means the language used around players/athletes matters. It is also means any commentary of a players/athletes body is not applicable — it is out of bounds. And this applies for coaches and fellow players/athletes.

It should be common  knowledge that comments on a child’s and/or adolescents body is off limits. Those inside this demographic are often within the developmental cycle — progressing through their initial 10 Years of Play and adhering to The Pathway before they undertake The Long Game after this initial period. For those players/athletes who are in their ‘second’ decade of play, this doesn’t mean that they’re any less susceptible to this commentary and/or that it is appropriate. Rather, the commentary oftentimes is amplified with misconceptions around performance metrics and progressions associated with being, for example, smaller and/or more muscular. 

Once a player/athlete progresses to that next level and they’re beginning to nudge closer towards the Top 10 — be that Top 200 to Top 80 as their sights are set on steadily progressing, they’re also more exposed to a larger audience and safeguarding players/athletes should still remain front and centre irrespective of the stage of development. By all means, the younger a player the more vulnerable and concrete steps should be in place to ensure the players/athletes overall wellbeing is front and centre. However, the message remains clear…

…safeguarding players/athletes is a priority throughout these years be it 6 years of age through to 16 years of age (plus) it remains absolutely the number one priority ‘behind’ performance.

How does this relate to body image through to self-worth? Simple. A players/athletes appearance needs to be off the table — removed from the equation. It is the performance that counts. Commentary on a players/athletes body image can cause negative emotions for their self-worth. The same applies if a players/athletes performance it put before their self-worth. And I get it — it can get a little tricky and confusing but not if the correct protocols are put in place and followed. At the end of the day all players/athletes should be treated equal — irrespective of their level of play. And all players/athletes should be encouraged to support one another to contribute towards one another’s self-worth in positive ways that is not limited to a performance outcome. As for body image, there is zero data to support ‘one size’ is the ‘perfect size’ that is associated with a Top 10 tennis ranking. Zero. So any conversations around body image should be removed from the discussion. 

To learn more about Body Image, Self-Worth and Tennis Players: A Coach’s Responsibility, head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis and head to Episode 35. More? Catch up on our Tips over on TikTokTwitterThreads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.

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Hydration: Coconut Water, Soda Water, Energy Drinks and Sports Drinks — Which One?

When it comes to generalised advice on fluid replacement to ‘fuel’ your body in respect to remaining hydrated to replacing electrolytes, there are significant options to choose from that are accompanied by broad misconceptions. For this purpose it is incredibly important to frame this discussion towards the developmental player/athlete aged up to around 15-16 years of age as a ballpark and is yet to secure ITF, WTA and/or ATP points. In other words, you’re still developing towards your performance peak before taking the next step.

To the players who are beyond this range your fluid/hydration requirements will typically differ due to load, exertion and training duration. You may also be training in varied climates opposed to predominantly a singular venue that your body is use to i.e. their is limited need to adapt and condition a desired response. A point of reference here would be from a player/athlete who is based in the same location and is exposed to seasonal changes gradually i.e. it gradually gets warmer as Summer approaches and/or steadily gets cooler as the Winter months approach. In other words, your environment is relatively controlled in contrast to a player/athlete that may play a tournament in one climate before heading to the next. Whilst it is reasonable to suggest that tennis is typically played in warmer climates, once you reach a certain level your body is under progressive and constant demand with any changes in climate that may impact your performance important to be mindful of and to hydrate according. In this respect, higher performing players will need specific electrolytes, for example, to ensure their hydration stays optimal and in line with their body’s upkeep. But this is only a brief distinction between levels as the needs and demands increase once this level is reached.

For the player who still resides ‘pre’ elite your hydration is going to differ. But as these are your developmental years, it is incredibly important to build habits to serve you later on which includes conditioning your body with the right fluid source to maintain hydration and contribute towards your recovery. This is the time when you’re building your foundations and your hydration is a part of that.

As eluded towards in the title, irrespective of coconut water, carbonated drinks to sports drinks and a myriad of others, it’s what these drinks consist of that should inform your decision around whether it is right for your hydration — and recovery, or maybe something else is a better option. And the heartbreaking news for most at this level is that water is your best choice. Whilst other fluids can serve a purpose, at this level you’re not exhausting yourself to working towards your maximum rate of exertion or at a level that’s physically demanding more of your body. Of course there is merit in using sports drinks that replace your electrolytes if you’re at this level but I cannot tell you how many players/athletes that I’ve come across over the years that opt for these drinks when they’re typically doing themselves more harm than good. 

For the recreational player/athlete that has no interest or cause to establish a solid foundation and/or condition their body for the road ahead as The Long Game takes shape and the body demands even more, they’re akin to more generalised populations whereby this has limited merit and/or cause for concern. Those of you who are high performance players within the developmental spectrum — pre-elite although still playing at a high level, water is one of your best choices and second to those sports drinks within reason. The ‘within reason’ is based on your demands, rate of exertion and ‘what’ is in those drinks. If these drinks do NOT contain what you’re in need of, then no — they do not serve a purpose. The same goes for coconut water to carbonated drinks that include soft drinks to energy drinks they simply do not have a place and are seldom used by elite players when their energy is slumping and often have not been able to replace the energy they’ve lost and they’re in need of a quick ‘pick-me-up’. For the developmental player this is rarely the place.

Building the foundations of proper hydration and learning your body’s fluid intake and its requirements is a key step to head towards The Pathway and to sustain your desired level of play. Once you reach that ‘next’ peak performance and edge towards the later half of the ‘first’ 10 years of play, you’ll find yourself embarking on The Long Game with ATP/WTA ranking points on the line and the foundations you’ve built will serve their purpose when it comes to looking after your body and knowing what works best for you as you search for that very ‘next’ peak performance — again and again and again. And that’s how hydration plays an incredibly important role for those with their eyes set on becoming a barrier breaker.

To learn more about Hydration: Coconut Water, Soda Water, Energy Drinks and Sports Drinks — Which One?, head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis and head to Episode 34. More? Catch up on our Tips over on TikTokTwitterThreads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.

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Sweat: What it Tells You and What to Look for in the Tennis Player

The amount of perspiration any individual produces is typically a very good indicator of fluid loss and the need to replenish the body. More often than not this is common knowledge, in particular in adult populations, although it isn’t always the case in developing players/athletes through to younger adults. The irony here is that this is when/where an individual is ‘conditioned’ to replace this fluid loss — the period of time where a player/athlete learns how to keep on top of their performance through recovery.

The mistake that is often made and is carried with a player/athlete throughout their developmental years through to their transition into becoming young adults and embarking on the WTA and/or ATP tour is using this rate of perspiration as their sole indicator of fluid loss/replenishment. As shared in previous blogs to episodes, a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is quite dangerous especially when it comes to the human body and perspiration. The problem occurs in these younger years when a child’s perspiration rate is not the best indicator for fluid consumption. Due to the fact that younger players/athletes are in fact developing, this very terminology highlights that these players/athletes are changing — going through a period of ‘transformation’ whether prior to, during and/or after adolescence and their fluid requirements will tend to differ.

Whilst fluid replenishment is relatively clear when we consider perspiration, there are gaps and this is where the problems to danger arises. If used as a singular indicator, a player/athlete may not be replacing enough fluid and their performance and thus recovery will suffer. By the same account, a player/athlete who does not perspire as much as their peers and in turn does not consume similar amounts of fluid may lead to minor levels of dehydration. Why? Quite simply due to the fact that perspiration as an indicator does not replace energy expenditure and how an individual’s body reacts/responds to a given environment.

This mistake is often made in the cooler months whereby players/athletes do not perspire as much due to the colder climate. A hidden issue here is that if the same work-ratio is apparent, the body is in fact in need of near equal fluid replacement that will not be apparent externally. This is a big reason why perspiration alone is not an ideal indicator.

The key here is in the alone. There are many variables when it comes to performance and recovery and what works best for a given player/athlete. By all means, many players/athletes will have similar needs when it comes to perspiration but there are always exceptions to the rule. If these ‘exceptions’ are ignored they can pose real danger to those who need to learn what works best for them — their performance and recovery.

By conditioning a player/athlete to use their perspiration as one of many indicators allows them to learn more about their body and increase a general awareness around this topic. This not only is the beginning of the journey to ‘educating’ developmental players/athletes about the body’s needs to demands, it is progressively conditioning these players/athletes for The Long Game and how they look after their bodies to reach that next peak performance.

To learn more about Sweat: What it Tells You and What to Look for in the Tennis Player, head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis and head to Episode 33. More? Catch up on our Tips over on TikTokTwitterThreads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.

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How to Coach the Warm-Up: an Underrated Necessity for Tennis Players

Not just for the tennis player and/or athlete, the warm-up is an overlooked proponent of health and wellbeing for all and is often neglected to understood which leaves quite a significant number of active populations susceptible to developing an injury. But this can be easily avoided with some simple steps put in place. First of which is understanding the overall function of your body and how you use your body in everyday life. For the player/athlete you have incredibly high demand requirements in contrast to more general active populations. For more mature demographics, you’re more likely to be wanting to maintain a level of strength to protect yourself and your body from potential ailments we become more susceptible towards later in life. And for the non-athlete yet active individual — from young adults to those in that middle demographic, you most likely have your sights set on general health and well-being and participate in weekly activities 3-5 times per week — classes through to committed runs, you place your overall physical fitness as a priority. 

For those of you who do not fit into one of these categories it’s an important reminder to ask yourself why given the daily requirements of your body — as simple as walking to getting up from a chair to couch or maintaining a level of strength to ensure your posture isn’t as compromised if you’re sitting at a desk on a regular basis. All of these ‘actions’ have a roll-on affect for how your body in turn responds. An example can be given from a simple squat to lunge that can enhance your balance through to your strength — ‘ease’ in getting up from a chair to picking something up off the floor you may have dropped.

Activity is a part of everyday life and those who do not participate in a form of activity on a regular basis are more susceptible to developing ailments later in life.

So where does the warm-up come in? The same applies for those who go ‘all out’ prior to warming their body up as they become more susceptible to the onset of injury. But do it right, and you’re doing your body a favour and for the players/athletes you’re also doing your performance a favour as you’re ‘preparing’ your body to ‘progress’ towards its next caliber in a manner of speaking. Let me explain. I’m sure everyone has experienced the difference of jumping in the air once, and then after a few times, they feel a little more ‘loose’ like your body could go for more? Or, remember high-jump when the bar started low and then increased? And for the tennis player, hopefully you recall hitting inside the service box before progressing back to the baseline. The simple rule here is akin to an elastic band (i.e. elastic energy). By starting small and in gradual increments ‘increasing’ your range and/or energy expenditure (i.e. strength) you’re preparing your body to work at a certain level to increase the outcome (i.e. performance). But if you avoid this ‘warming-up’ altogether, you’re not giving your body a chance to reach this level and by going ‘all-in’ from the get-go can stretch your body/muscles in contrast to them naturally ‘preparing’ for this level/load.

By implementing best practices that include a warm-up not only are players/athletes setting themselves up for more purposeful performances, they’re also safeguarding their bodies for the load ahead. For the general populations, irrespective which demographic you fall into, the same applies. Whilst you may not be looking to reach a peak performance, the gradual load you apply to your body to build strength, for example, is just as applicable when it comes to ‘over-stretching’ your muscles in contrast to progressing to this stage. A simple and yet easy trick for all.

To learn more about How to Coach the Warm-Up: an Underrated Necessity for Tennis Players, head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis and head to Episode 32. More? Catch up on our Tips over on TikTokTwitterThreads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.

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Addiction and Coaching: the Tennis Player

It is important to preface this segment by sharing that if you’re experiencing a form of addiction, please consult your local physician / GP for steps to put in place to help you overcome these behaviours. The following is not medical advice, it is based on science (behavioural) coupled lived experience.

Addiction is more often than not associated with quite drastic outcomes to behaviours and the underlying and/or more subtle addictions that can come about in the daily lives of adolescents to teenagers when they’re not receiving the attention they seek are often overlooked. An example in the sports coaching context for the tennis player may be over-training to carrying an injury without sharing — for fear of ‘loss’ of training. However, there are also more widely known addictions that may present themselves away from the training grounds that coaches can become privy to if they put the work in to build trusting/trustful relationships with their players that can also allow the coach in turn to ‘ring the alarm’ with a player’s and/or child’s parent/guardian.

There are a multitude of signs a coach can look for from a behavioural perspective and coaches are in a unique position to play their part to combat these more concerning behaviours. It is also pertinent to remember some players will be more susceptible than others due to their environment and the ‘training grounds’ (i.e. tennis courts) is one such area that can mitigate these vulnerabilities to susceptibilities with the right guidance, support network and structures than work in unison to condition the player/athlete to build more robust foundations as they transition through their younger years into adulthood.

This is one core topic that is rarely addressed that when the training environment is well-rounded it can play such a positive part in a child’s life whilst also building behavioural responses that can allow them to better cope when put in more pressurised environments away from the training grounds i.e. at-risk and/or vulnerable environments that may lead to and/or contribute towards an addiction. As a huge proponent for sports participation, one such textWhat is Your Game Missing, Now? begins to address the social implications of reduced sports participation to increasing the rate of active populations.

It is well documented that active (physical) hobbies — whether casual or for the more dedicated, have incredibly positive benefits for both physical health and mental health.

Whilst the role of mental health and the tennis player has previously been touch on, the presence and/or susceptibility to addiction is new. And whilst from a societal perspective it is also well-documented that addictions are a part of our communities, that isn’t to say that the sporting athlete and with that, the tennis player, is not at-risk at developing an addiction. By all means through participation the risks are lowered, but a proactive coach that builds trust and is conscious of the signs, can not merely be a sounding board to confidant in times of need by building the triangular relationship (refer to the coach-parent relationship) this also affords a best-practice protocol when keeping a healthy eye on a child’s overall physical and mental health and preparedness to discuss and/or address the role of addiction in sport and how coaching plays an integral part in the players/athletes development.

To learn more about Addiction and Coaching: for the Tennis Player, head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis and head to Episode 31. More? Catch up on our Tips over on TikTokTwitterThreads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.

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Learning from Mistakes: Tennis Players Part 2

Irrespective if you’re a tennis player, coach or parent there is a lesson embedded in here for everyone — including the non-sporting individual. Mistakes do not discriminate, rather it is a part of being human and inevitable that mistakes happen. It is how we ‘learn’ from these mistakes the separates us. This learning is our core focus here and how inside the coaching environment this can be shaped to benefit player performance now and in the years to come.

First and foremost it is absolutely critical that coaches are equipped with the tools to share feedback in a way that addresses these mistakes — from errors to unforced errors and more specific game-play discrepancies to mindful practices. All in all, there are a multitude of areas to address where mistakes may occur and it really comes down to what the player understands and their capacity to follow these instructions. But remember…

…a player cannot follow instructions that he/she does not understand. Rather, they may very well be performing ‘perfectly’ in their eyes from what they understand is required. This is critical for coaches to understand themselves to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Feedback is individual and how this is delivered is dependent on the player and their core learning style — think personal characteristics and how they best receive instruction. For those who deliver a ‘one size’ approach for all, this is where mistakes are bound to happen at no fault of the player/athlete. Get it right and you’re aligning with optimal performance practices and setting up that player to embark on The Pathway.

It is key to remember that mistakes are a part of life and it is how we are conditioned to respond that makes a difference. To the coaches, helping your players better understand their errors to unforced errors and carving a action-reaction response is another key metric that not merely allows the player/athlete to develop this aspect of their game, but during competition they’re more readily able to move on to the next point and ‘re-set’ after a mistake.

To learn more about Learning from Mistakes: Tennis Players, head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis and head to Episode 30. More? Catch up on our Tips over on TikTokTwitterThreads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.

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Learning from Mistakes: Tennis Players

Everyone makes mistakes. It is one of those things in life that is inevitable. How you respond to these mistakes will vary and these behaviours are often formed in your earlier developmental years. Only later in life, if and/or when you choose, will you begin to modify these behaviours. On this premise, it is so incredibly important to set the standards in a child’s earlier years to ensure their response is well-attuned to appropriate and builds the ‘right’ kind of behaviours opposed to setting that child up for a harder road ahead i.e. needing to ‘rewire’ these behaviours due to the poor responses initially developed and/or noted as acceptable at the given time.

An example of a poorly developed behaviour in earlier years, when we’re narrowing our focus on the tennis player, is the reaction when a point is lost due to an unforced error i.e. a mistake. A child has two options — to accept that their performance wasn’t good enough for that given point and to learn from their mistake for the next point; or, the child may behave poorly — throw their racket, scream a few ill-choice words and perhaps even throw a little tantrum that involves a ‘slap’ to their leg, or similar. This example is shared from a lived experience — behaviours that once-upon-a-time I personally had become accustomed towards as acceptable and suitable to the poor performance. That is, mistakes were not okay and were frowned up. At the time, if your behaviour showed your level of frustration to disappointment this was almost applauded opposed to the calmer player that moved on to the next point.

Thankfully, my behaviours evolved as this was never a natural reaction. Again, from a personal perspective I was too well-rounded to keep that type of behaviour up — I knew better from a young age that this was not acceptable and I definitely would never get away with it off the tennis court and/or in front of my parents. There was absolutely no way that would have happened! And yet, this still happens to this day and coaches and parents alike allow this to happen. And that is not okay.

A child’s to tennis player’s actual development during these years sets the scene to what’s allowed later in life, in particular those adolescent years when hormones can at times take that behaviour to the next level. Even worse, off the tennis court this ‘screaming’ to ‘throwing’ can become evident in other areas of life when those types of behaviours are never okay. If you wouldn’t get away with screaming at yourself and throwing your book and/or slapping yourself after receiving a lesser result that planned on a test, why would it be okay on the tennis court?

Poor behaviour is never okay and setting the bar high for the developmental player means we’re also conditioning more positive behaviours for when that child becomes an adolescent and in later years, a young adult. On this basis, sport is incredibly powerful for setting well-rounded behaviours.

At the end of the day, everyone makes mistakes and it’s how we react that makes the difference. If you’re able to learn from your mistake — why it happened and its cause, specifically in tennis, your performance can evolve as you search to nudge those metrics further and reach your next peak performance. In this sense, mistakes are a constant that can be flipped upside down as a learning curve — a way in which can foster further development, further progressions and edge that player closet towards that Top 10 tennis ranking in the weeks to come, months to come, years to come and/or the next one or two decades ahead, depending on your rate of progress to current ranking range.

To learn more about Learning From Mistakes: Tennis Players, head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis and head to Episode 30. More? Catch up on our Tips over on TikTokTwitterThreads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.