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First The Smile, Then The Good Tennis


"Champions love to practice when nobody is looking and champions love to compete when everyone is watching" -unknown

The title of this article sounds kind of cheesy, but it is very true. Tennis is a really long journey and the MOST important thing is falling in love with the game. Ultimately, you want a player who can be their own coach. Sure, there have been and always will be a giant of list of players who don't "love" the game or never had the "bug" for it, who happened to blossom because they were gifted athletes driven by tough parents and/or coaches. Usually these types of players only frustrate the ones who care about them because they never fully realize their potential. The smile never was there from the beginning or more likely, the smile was lost along the way.


Here are some ways to ignite the tennis "bug" from a young age (pay attention hungry, overachieving, perfectionist parents):

1) Make tennis a family activitiy. You should play with your kids.
2) Take them to local college tennis events, pro events, get autographs.
3) Introduce them to the wall and explain how the The Wall is the best player in the world.
4) Don't force heaps of tennis lessons on them. Let them play with other kids.
5) They do not need $60 private lessons at age 8. Keep it light and fun.
6) Don't be technical, just let them swing for the fences or tap the ball. Whatever they want.
7) Play points, forget drilling. It's like when you first learn the piano, would you rather learn chords or a popular song off the radio. Make it fun!
8) Take tennis away from them, limit their play. It will make them want more.

Now if they catch the "bug," you have done an excellent job. Now how do you maintain the smile for the next 10-15 years?

Stay out of their tennis and just be supportive- no matter what. Don't be the one who ruins their love for the game. If you are the type who can't stay away, must micromanage, cherry picks from mutiple coaches, calls coaches after lessons to discuss backhand technique, chases tournament points all over the country, makes excuses for your child's poor play, and has an opinion on everything- STAY OUT OF THEIR TENNIS and JUST BE SUPPORTIVE! (We all know who you are, atleast there is never a shortage of drama and characters in tennis).

Tennis is hard enough as it is. You can't force a horse to drink from the river. And you can't drag your spouse down the aisle at your wedding...

Always the smile, then the good tennis.

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Reader Comments (2)

This nice article describes a fine way to make the game fun and a lifetime sport. "To be with" the kids and to do the things you love impresses kids and motivates them to go a similar way. So we can hope, they will love the game like we do. Don't try to educate them or force them to be what you want them to be, be supportive.

October 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFrercks

Well said...

Tennis is simply too hard of a sport to be able to master without a genuine love for the game. Learning the strokes, keeping score, ad going to lessons is the easy part. The hard part is still finding a way to get better after losing matches (triply hard to do if your parents are grinding on you after every match/practice).

There is no greater joy than a kid with a parent (no strings attached of course) tapping the ball around the court.

October 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCAtennis

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