As in life, most of us don’t wake up and realise this is what we want to do for the next 5-10 years of our lives and jump right into it. By all means, jumping is encouraged but the commitment in years may change and you have every right to change your mind. After all, by human nature we are inquisitive and by experience we learn to better ascertain what we like and what we do not like. So why would it be any different for a child learning to play a new sport? Finding your Feet takes time and it only happens through the experience of learning what you like and what you don’t like — you can’t get any more straight forward than that.
Once the likes and dislikes conversation has been had and the experiences have become real and vivid — lived experiences through trial and error, a child may opt to take up a sport they enjoy and begin to thrive in doing so. It is a natural occurrence then for a child, or any person for that matter, to want to learn to excel at their new pursuit — sport or otherwise. Sporting Strengths for Tennis Players can then take on a new light by a player learning different elements of the game and gravitating towards the skills that they excel at doing. Not all players, however, will excel at certain skills and that is totally normal. This is a big misconception for the ‘sporting parent’ who immediately assumes that their child will learn as they once did, thrive in the specific sport they once did, and have the same strengths in the same sport that they once did.
For the parents and/or guardians out there with these beliefs, it’s time to just sit back and let your child have a little bit of fun as they learn what works best for them…and it might very well be the opposite of what once worked for you.
Providing the space (and patience) becomes key for a developing child to learn their Sporting Strengths and when it comes to the Tennis Player, this is more readily discovered due to the immediate favouritism in development i.e. the forehand and/or backhand groundstroke typically takes precedence on the basis that it is a skill that is ‘able’ to be performed. However, this may very well vary if the nature by which a child learns and the skills they enjoy the most are included on equal merits. The volley, for example, is arguably a lot easier to master for the developing player and more time here would allow for a wider level of enjoyment. Granted that the groundstrokes are fundamental in playing the game of tennis, these can also take varying forms from the forehand and similarities with the volley (if the grip is taught early on), to the ‘overhead’ at the net and learning the serve — a tricky task given its dynamic discrete skills that need to ‘come together’ to build the serving technique to begin. But adjustments can be made i.e. modifications to allow a more easy uptake.
By incorporating modifications at all levels of play and skill development, a child is more readily able to learn a wider variety of skills and then choose what works best for them to more naturally gravitate towards a strength in contrast to choosing one simply because it is the only “one” they can readily perform. And this takes time alike all skills. Finding you Feet by its very nature is a ‘work in progress’ irrespective of the sport and/or skill. For the Tennis Player this is an open playground if the right guidance is available and modifications are being made. It is so important to work with the individual child/player on these points given the varying stages of development and progress — there is no right or wrong, only what works best for the child/player.
A common misconception here is that a lag in development (i.e. not progressing as readily as other players) is a sure sign that the child is no good at the given sport. This couldn’t be more wrong.More often than not it comes down to the child’s ability to understand their coach and in turn the coach not understanding ‘how’ their player learns. It is the coaches responsibility to adapt and cater for the ‘learners’ needs which can vary — there is no right or wrong. To dive deeper into this topic, my latest Book which has JUST launched: “How to Develop a Top 10 Tennis Ranking” shares key insights on the learning process and underscores the importance of how each step of the way. So if you’re one of those players/athletes that doesn’t pick up skills as readily, it’s okay — there’s a way around it!
This means no matter The Pathway to The Long Game, there’s a road ahead for you to follow, hiccups, bumps and jumps for all. The Secrets to Optimal Coaching Success is a huge starting point and The Secrets to Optimal Performance Success really sets the foundations. Once these Books have become familiar, The Science of Elite Performance is a HUGE jump, or if you’re not quite ready, What is Your Game Missing? will show you what separates a Grand Slam Champion to a player who is halted in the 1st to 3rd Rounds.
To learn more about Finding your Feet: Sporting Strengths for Tennis Players, head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis and head to Episode 61. More? Catch up on our Tips over on TikTok, Twitter, Threads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.