Tips for starting out youngsters...........
It seems there are a few people wondering about how to get their kids started with tennis. It is kind of tough figuring out the best road to take when everyone else has a "wonderful suggestion". Having worked with numerous pros and ITF juniors over the years, I think (I say I think because even with the things I have done in tennis, I still do not know everything, not even close) I have come up with some simple suggestions. Take them or leave them.
1. Tennis is a game and it should be fun. I have watched too many juniors who were never going to make it on the pro tour be forced to play tennis. It never, ever works that way. The desire to be great must come from inside and if your child does not have that desire, you can't force it. So, make it fun. The more they enjoy playing, the more they will want to play.
2. Start them off with good technique. The one thing that drives me crazy as a coach is to see a forehand grip on the serve and on the volley. Continental is the right way. There are few Boris Becker's out there who can use an eastern grip to hit the serve. Please, as a coach, I beg you, the parent, to take a lesson yourself and learn proper technique if you are going to work with your child. NOt doing so will create mega obstacles and problems in the future. Would you try and teach someone to fly a plane if you knew nothing about it besides having watched a pilot on television? No Way! Starting off slow with good technique will help them progress faster in the future and they will not have to relearn a stroke when they start playing competitive tennis.
3. Do not EVER fuss at your child when they play poorly. It happens. Deal with it with a smile and keep having fun. It's a game.
4. Find the coach whose personality helps your child have a good time. I ask you, would you ever go out and continuously hang out with someone who you did not like or made you unhappy? Think about it. There are plenty of great coaches out there with great personalities and awesome teaching skills.
5. If they take up the game, let it be because they want to. No need to live vicariously through the child. If tennis is that important to you as a parent, pick up a racquet and learn to play yourself.
If you support your child quietly and help them to learn to love the game of tennis with no pressure, you will be well ahead of most. I played three years on the ATP Tour and can rightfully say that I didn't make enough money to call it a living. I was out there because I loved the game. Noone forced me or pushed me. I never would have made it had anyone done so. I pushed myself. I hope this brings a little incite..........