Little Billy (10 years old) loves tennis, he plays everyday and is driven hard by his parents who commit both time and money to see him succeed and MAKE it. After 5 years of playing Billy decides he is done! He is finished playing and wants nothing to do with tennis.
Have you heard or experienced this yourself?
I have seen this happen too many times……
There are a number of reasons;
1. Kids get pushed or driven too hard.
2. People around players don’t know how to manage the tennis training volume (how much training for tennis and tennis workouts are they doing)
3. They get distracted. As young players get older, they start to want to do different things socially, other things become more important to them. They start to find out about the opposite sex, video games, spending time with friends, other sports etc.
4. Injury. They develop one or a number of tennis injuries that knock the passion out of them.
5. Lack of progress. They don’t feel they are improving or progressing towards their goals. This causes them to lose motivation.
Tips on getting it right:
1. Communication - Communicate with young players what they are enjoying about their tennis and things that they don’t enjoy, find ways to make improvements in what they do to minimize the things they don’t like (if they are reasonable). Ask them if they feel they are doing too much or not enough (A parent should always make the final decision on what is too much or not enough, but getting feedback from the player can really help make the right decision)
2. Managing tennis training volume can be tricky - Every player is individual and they need to work out what their training threshold is. The easiest way to do this is to slowly increase there tennis training volume and use an “energy scale” to see how they are coping. It would work like this; Tennis Training increases by 3 hours per week over 2 weeks. Then by monitoring the players energy levels using a scale of 1-10 (1 = flat and lethargic, 5 = A bit tired but ok to keep going, 10 = Full of energy 100%) You can start gauge how a player is coping. If a player is constantly sitting around a 1-5, you need to make changes.
3. Distractions - Some young players just get more interested in other things than tennis, that’s life. Sometimes there really is nothing we can do about it. What you can do is control what you can control! And keeping young athletes socially and emotionally balanced is crucial. Allowing them to have a good social network is important, especially friends away from tennis. Giving them the opportunity to try and experience new things is good for their emotional state as they can learn and process more things and become more diverse. Allowing young athletes to socially interact with the opposite sex is needed at a young age.
4. Injuries - Too much of anything will cause tennis injuries. So managing how much time player’strain for tennis and how they balance their tennis exercise program (on court - hitting, off court – tennis fitness, Recovery- stretching etc.) is vital.
5. Goal setting - Is important to help players feel they are progressing. Even small really attainable goals work really well with young players. Communicating with them areas they feel they can and want to improve is the best place to start, that way you already got them buying in to the process. From there set some attainable goals with them and set some deadlines to reach them, then keep reminding them and reinforcing them frequently. Once the goals are met acknowledge it and get more in place. Works a treat!