For the first time in history we have a generation of children (players/athletes) who are growing up without the core skills from previous generations. This lapse in time and of skill development has a roll-on effect to a child’s level of coordination to their ability to grasp the concept of control to multi-directional movements. Whether we’re talking about agility to dynamic balance, these are key skills responsible for developing the aspiring player/athlete into that professional tennis player with the prospects and end-goal of ascending towards the Top 10. But if the fundamentals are not put into place in the earlier years, that child has a much harder time in the developmental process than their peers who have been afforded a level of conditioning that accommodates the ‘art-form’ of skill development that empowers their performance over The Long Game.
To rectify these physical anomalies, which have become our new norm, coaches need to be mindful of these changes and modify players/athletes training loads to ensure these skills are incorporated into their conditioning and overall repertoire. This includes a level of engagement as previously touched on that is personalised to that player/athlete and also leverages their external (non-tennis specific) strengths and uses these to enhance their actual ‘tennis’ performance. Examples range from gaming through to their favourite show they’re currently streaming and how these can be used as themes to optimise their performance.
Thinking outside the box to accommodate the player/athlete as a whole is a win for the player, the coach, their performance and also their overall skill development. Not only will the incorporation of key skills — now forgotten, benefit the player/athlete as a whole, these skills will become even more paramount the greater the demand of a given action/movement becomes as their level amps up.
What is most important when it comes to the overall development of a skill is a level of intent and consideration where these skills are concerned. This includes direct and indirect learning forms whilst integrating these skills into the training load of players/athletes in an ‘artful’ way that works for that player/athlete opposed to a ‘one size fits all’ approach. To learn more about The Forgotten art of Skill Development in Athlete to Tennis Players, head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis and head to Episode 25. More? Catch up on our Tips over on TikTok, Twitter, Threads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.