Are You Competitive?† It is OK to Say No
Not everyone who plays sports is a competitive player. Some of us just like to have fun, or perhaps just get some exercise. It's OK to say that you play sports for these reasons.
Unfortunately, we find too many sports coaches who base their worth on their studentís success in tournaments or other competitions. With so many tennis clubs and coaches competing for a limited number of students in the Tampa Bay area, too often we see these people pushing students into competitions in order to improve their own standing as a coach. It's a terrible disservice to the student, too many of which "burn out" on the sport at way too young an age.
Tennis is a wonderful sport that can be played over a lifetime. But a child's introduction and formative years in the sport have to be fun.† A good coach should stress the fun and exercise benefits of the game over the competitive aspects of it. In taking this approach, coaches will do a lot more to help the player and the sport by creating a lifelong tennis enthusiast. It's also been an observation of mine, in all sports, that those who enjoy the sport the most usually have the most success at it. Some might argue that they enjoy the sport because they are good at it, but the opposite is true. After all, there are plenty of people who are not advanced at a sport and yet continue to enjoy playing the sport. It's called recreation and this is the focus of all my programs.
From a tennis teaching perspective, I have found success as junior tournaments usually goes hand in hand with developing a one-dimensional game. In other words, you can do better at junior tournaments by focusing on less aspects of the game. This does not bode well for your future success in tennis, when more skills will be required to have success. I believe students should be introduced to all aspects of the game even though it may take longer to master all these skills.
For the record, let me say that junior tennis tournaments and competitive leagues provide many good things for students as well. We all, at some time, need to experience the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Just make sure your tennis student is ready for this experience. The best way to prepare the student for this is to make sure their introduction in the sport are based solely on having fun and getting exercise.
By :Gary Needelman
Tennis Director, Emerald Greens† Golf and Country Club
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