If you have been a coach or trainer for a while, you would have heard this question a few times “So do they have a chance of making it”. It is always a tough question to answer.
We believe tennis is definitely the most challenging and complexed sport globally to reach the top in. So many factors to consider! However, I believe there is one factor that stands alone and gives me a good indication on whether a player has the desire to “Make it”
If a player does not have the willingness to do “whatever it takes” they are a zero chance.
I honestly believe that.
Any high-level sports person somewhere along their journey has gone to places few others will, pushing themselves, sacrificing time – money – relationships and never giving up.
Some stay there for years and succeed more than others.
I want to tell you a story about a young kid. It will give you, a sense of what I believe as a tennis trainer, coach, and parent we should be looking for as a key indicator. It is not just one thing it is a number of things that build excellence, but this is top of my list.
I recently started working with a tennis high-performance program near where I live. When I went through my initial meeting, testing and tennis programming, during phase one an 11 year kid stood out to me.
It started out with questions like “Can I do that tennis fitness test again, I know I can do better” “Show me how to do it again, I want to get it right” He was always prepared and committed to his sessions. He always finished with a “Thank you“ and a hand shake.
I also watch the kids hit in their squads, he possesses something different than other kids. He chases everything, even when he knows he won’t get it. He seems to love the challenge of hitting with kids who are bigger, stronger or better. He thrives on being challenged on and off the court.
When you are experienced in any profession, you see more than others can, you look beyond the norm and have the capacity to almost clearly predict an outcome.
After 3 weeks, I was sure this kid was different from most others.
During a debrief with the tennis high-performance coach, I was discussing all the player's reports. When I came to this kid, I said he’s special, he has a chance, he said “really funny you should say that" The coach went on to say “he has been playing half the time of the other players, but he has had the quickest improvements.
He is a real competitor and loves playing matches. He comes in and cleans the bat poo (yes bat POO) off the tennis courts and cleans up the courts to get money to pay for his private lessons.
He asked if he could bring in his hitting net and leave it at the courts so he could spend time before and after his sessions practicing.
Was I surprised? No. I almost expected it. Having seen Lleyton Hewitt, put himself through all kinds of pain and sacrifices for 10 years, nothing surprises me when I come across other highly motivated, passionate and committed players, no matter their age or level.
I can see the hunger and passion in this kid. This is the passion and commitment that is needed to make it. To deal with complexity and challenges without desire, passion, and commitment you won’t get there, you cannot get far (I’m shooting from the hip here).
Will he make it? Well, that’s subjective. He is well on the way to reaching his potential and reaching that, in my opinion, is always a sign “You made it”
My advice to parents and coaches is always the same when I am asked the question, “Do they have a chance” I ask this question back “I don’t know…. are they giving themselves a chance”
Below are key indicators…. are they meeting them? That really is the reality, simple.
I will help any player, no matter their ; gender, race, age or level of player.
In fact, I will give all I have as a tennis conditioner when a player hits these indicators. Most coaches and tennis trainers will.
I believe these indicators will override technique and short term results (Winning junior tournaments etc) due to the fact, it is far easier to teach a player with the right attitude how to technically do something in the long term, than it is to teach a young hotshot who does not possess these key points.
Key indicators for excellence
We encourage all our athletes to adopt these.