Over the past week, I was provided a rare opportunity for me that is, to host an intense Clinic with students between the ages of 14 to 18y/o. There is a facility of very nice indoor Courts that were signed for their exclusive use. Apparently for the first time since this has been offered which is now 6 yrs, we had 100% sign-up for this Clinic.
The main focus of the Clinic was to have very intense FH & BH Drills coupled with an altered form of Canadian Doubles. Now this is something many have probably played before when you either didn't have or couldn't find a 4th. But in our drills, the person on the single's side of the Court could NOT use the double's alleys as typical in Canadian.
I wanted to talk a little about the drills .. many Instructors like to utilize Cones to force a Player into concentrating on pinpointing their shots within a certain area, while the Coach feeds the tennis balls.
What we did was have the Single's Player hit to the two opponents and depending on what their assignment was, could only hit a forehand or backhand return.
To my surprise, it didn't take any of them long at all to get the hang of this drill. So I'm standing on the sideline watching the ball go back and forth occasionally calling out certain observations along with a woman I know who runs the facility (Donna P.) and she made a comment that almost caused me to break out in tears. Her words were, "I've known many of them since they weren't old enough to hold a racquet less more play a descent game with one and I'm seeing kids that could make a serious run in the Juniors Nationally. You have a lot to do with this you know."
Well I turned to her and said, "No actually Rafa, Maria, Serena, Roger, Jelena and others have a lot to do with it" They all want to hit like the Stars they love, so they practice a lot. Then Donna said, "Yeah maybe but every body that comes here wants to hit like some Star they know and about 1% maybe but they work hard for you, I can see it when you talk to them."
Well that was all it took for me to get choked up. I told my wife about that conversation and she said, you've always had a way with kids. You respect kids and I think that's why they like you. You don't treat them like they don't know anything, you treat them like they are important to you.
For any of you who Coach formally or are keen in giving Tennis Instructions to Kids or Adults, I suppose it comes down to first knowing what you're talking about and then knowing how to convey that to others. How you come across, is crucial.
I'm going to expose my age when I say this but it's important, I am a Veteran of VN. My Tour was in 68-69 ..
My CO was a guy name George W.. Sometimes, you meet people who you will do anything for because of how they come across to you. They have a way of making you feel that you can accomplish anything if you apply yourself but more importantly, they go one step further and that is, you just know they will never ask of you, what they aren't will to do as well. So as a very young kid who was angry & afraid daily, I found comfort in older guys who looked me in the eyes and said, "I want to see you go home standing on your feet Solder and all I ask is that you trust what I tell you and you'll greatly increase your chances of doing just that."
So I steal those words at times by telling my kids, I want to see them win Tournaments .. and so far they've racked up a lotta trophies for their HS.