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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    13

    Coach...Help me with my college playing son!!!

    Okay this is going to be a bit long and I will try not to ramble. My son is a junior at a small college on a tennis scholarship. He has this year and his senior year left.

    Ever since he decided that he wanted to persue tennis as a way to pay for college and playing year round in USTA juniors and high school, it has been hard for us parents, coaches and teaching pros and even therapy to get him out of what I would call a bad attitude.

    He has been a player with a very competitive spirit since the 8th grade. It isn't that he's throws tantrums (anymore hehe) but he gets very down on himself if he loses. Instead of looking at it as the other guy or guys (in doubles) were just better today, his words are "I suck."

    He's probably a 4.0-4.5 player right now.

    We have tried postive mental attitude books by major sports coaches and pros, training, pep talks, tough love, therapy, sports movies with a positive spin yet he still doesn't 'get it'.

    He's been told over and over that he's got the physical skills to be a top player at his college but not the mental part. He's been told that the mental part is 95% and physical is just 5%.

    Here's the situation at the college. The coach (who isn't much into 'coaching' it seems...just tells them to run and hit more balls to get better) is bringing in more foreign students because he wants to compete at a national level. They have went to nationals several years in a row but get bounced out 1st round.

    So my son is fighting for a 5-6 spot on the varsity squad. College teams are usually 1-6 or 1-8 for varsity. We have told him he can't control what the coach does on the team and if he wants to be on varsity he needs to put in the extra effort. He feels he doesn't need to b/c the other guys don't. But he has trouble beating the other guys (4 guys are fighting for 5-6 spot right now).

    We tell him over and over to focus on the positive and not the negative BS but he doesn't get it and tells us that PMA stuff is BS. Because he 'tried' it for 2 weeks and it didn't work.

    We, as parents, are very frustrated on how to handle this. I know he's 20 and an adult but to us he's still mentally a kid. It sucks when he calls or texts us and tells us not to come watch him play because he isn't playing the spot he expected to or that he lost in a challenge match and is lower on the ladder now.

    I have tried to have a sit down and just tell him he has to want it bad enough and then do the extra work. He tells me he has no extra time, but has the time to drink, party and hang out with his roomies. I told him his teammates that are his friends are his friends until they get on the court, b/c THEY don't want him taking their spot yet he doesn't want to ruffle feathers.

    He only has 2 years of eligibility left and I have told him that he doesn't want to have regrets about screwing it up.

    I hope Oscar can read this and give me a bit of insight on how to handle him.

  2. #2
    i just finished playing college tennis 3 1/2 years ago (class of 05) and i struggled with some of the same things your son does, self confidence on the court, and a coach that doesn't coach... it took me until my junior year to figure it out... the thing about being a good tennis player is this: you have to be a little bit of an A-hole... my girlfriend asked me my senior year why all my tennis friends were real jerks... it's the nature of the beast, in order to be successful you have to walk on court with the attitude that you are better than the other guy, something that isn't taught to us in everyday life, we are always taught everyone is equal, everyone should get a fair chance, blah, blah, blah...unlike baseball and other team sports where the entire team wins, in tennis, even on a college team, it boils down to individual performance... iby my junior year, my assistant coach, my mental guru, had me saying to myself everytime i walked onto the court "I am better than my opponent, i am a superior player, he will not win a game against me, I am better than my opponent"... as far as playing team mates, he wants to help the team right? his team mates want the best 6 guys out there, i played number 2 my junior and senior year, below an underclassman, was i upset? no, i lost every challenge to him i didn't deserve number one, but everytime we challenged i told myself that i was going to beat him, if i didn't oh well, he was number one i was number 2... it sounds like your son has a lot of confidence off the court, but not so much on it...probably a really nice kid, but he's gotta be a little bit of an a-hole to succeed, just a little (even roger and rafa do it, they just do it with class, but they know how good they are and aren't afraid to say it)... tennis isn't about having the ability, it's about figuring out how to use your ability all the time...99% mental, the rest is physical...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    707
    Greetings Shuttrbug ~

    If only your son should have the passion you've displayed in your plea. Tennis is a sport and in recent decades, it's obviously become a lucrative way of making a living doing something you loves. And there lays the key word, "Love". Like in all occupations, no one will ever be eternally satisfied unless they never lose sight of why they do what they do. If your Son is playing Tennis because he loves the game, he has already won half the battle.

    Our friend is partially correct in suggesting Tennis is more mental than tactical. Truly anyone who is in relatively good shape and enjoys competitive activities can learn the proper way of striking a tennis ball. But winning a tennis match against an opponent on an equal or higher level is where you learn about what you're made of. The commitment to one's self and where you want to go. The very best in the Tennis World, loses matches. So if losing is the only barometer your Son judges himself by, then he truly needs to hang up his racquet and take up the guitar or saxophone.

    In the late 80s I went through a string of months where I didn't lose a single match to anybody. I won seven local open level tournaments, where my USTA rating was 4.5 and I loved that, it kinda gave me a cushion of confidence. Then is November of 1990, I was living in Phoenix, Az. where I generally hit at the Mountain View Tennis Center in North Phoenix, fantastic place that I highly recommend for good competition and great people. So in Nov. I entered a Weekend Tournament for 4.0 to 5.0 level players. I knew most of the guys who signed up for the Tournament and was fairly certain I would make the Semis with little problem. I lost my first round match 6-7 3-6. No makeup Rounds, No Lucky Loser Rounds, No Nothing, when you lose, you go home. That bothered me greatly and I began to analyze what went wrong with my game. Well the answer was clear to me, nothing was wrong with my game, my game was sound but my confidence had crossed a very critical line that caused me severe harm. I was so confident that I completely disregarded my opponent's desire. Before we even started, I had already looked pass him onto who I was going to play next. In no way was I in the moment concentrating on the job at hand.

    Here's the point, Your Son is going to lose tennis matches regardless of how far he decides to take this game. Should he turn Pro someday, he will continue to lose tennis matches and but he will not be respected until he learns to respect himself and what needs to happen to achieve his goals in life. I don't care if he's 20 or 12, if he can clearly see a future as a Tennis Pro, then he must also know there's only one way of getting there. It might be too late for him to gain the acceptance he's trying for at this moment but what might be a great move on your family's part is for him to enroll in a Tennis Camp during his school break. I happen to know many of these Camps will accept a student on a scholarship if they show a determination to succeed (not necessarily win). Nick Bollettieri has a program for students on a sliding scale depending on your household income and this is not to suggest you can't afford it but don't think money will prevent him from attaining his dream. 20y/o is kinda old for most these days so your Son shouldn't allow one minute to waste.

    You need to go out to dinner with your Son, look him straight in the eyes with love & understanding and ask him directly, "Is this what you truly want or is this what you think we want?" If your Son feels hanging out & partying with friends is more important than putting in the hard work, he could have a fear of success. That is a very common condition which generally means, when he looks at his ability and compares it to the level of those he admires, he might feel he doesn't measure up, therefore self destructs. He wants to be a Pro Tennis Player but watches guys like Federer, Nadal, Roddick, Djokovic, Agassi, etc on TV and thinks, "Oh my God, I'll never be that good" And the minute he thinks that, the bottom is pulled out from under him. None of those guys started off playing Tennis like they do now, they all started spraying balls all over the court, double faulting, shanking and pretty much doing what lower level Players do until they had someone they respect take them out on the Court and rebuild from the basics. You have to have a strong foundation before you can climb higher.

    Finally (most important) Find someone your Son respects who understands the game that can see the potential in him, who is willing to work as hard as he's willing to work and they will build a partnership getting him where he wants to be. Because Tennis is a solo Sport, it's typical of the younger Players to feel isolated & alone in this vast pool of sharks all trying to kill each other for the Golden Ring. Many will succeed because they have a strong support group, you sound as if your love & passion for him should be enough for him to feed from but it's not even close to what he needs. The support he needs can't come from you, it has to come from a Mentor who will stand with him in Victory or Defeat. They laugh when he gets his butt kicked and together they figure out how that happened & they laugh when he kicks butt and together they figure how that happened as well. Build on what is good about his game and reformulate what is weak.

    Sorry to say this but having an attitude upon walking onto the court can only be achieved when your game warrants it and when it does, it's not considered being a A-hole, it's generally looked upon as a swagger, stride of confidence. An ahole is nothing other than an ahole. I don't recommend that approach to winning, you win matches because you were better prepared than your opponent, not because you intimidated your opponent. If your Son uses terms like, "I suck" then that tells me he doesn't get beat very often, he probably beats himself.
    *Please read & understand my signature*

    There so much more to say but I'm sure I already put you to sleep. sorry
    The only acceptable loss is when your opponent was better than you on that given day.
    It is never acceptable to lose when your opponent was not.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    SEBES-ALBA ROMANIA
    Posts
    6

    build champ

    When I was coaching in Belgium , working with Justine Henin generation, I saw determination over there...and as they thought them only base line game, I worked separately with a girl , giving her the courage to go to the net, showing and practice only attack shots...it was craziness, as together we won 4 tournaments in a row, in july-august 1991...only once I saw to somebody else that hunger of achievement, and desire to be champ, as I was 17 times...SO WHO WANTS TO BECOME CHAMP JUST CALL FOR ME...YOURS PAVEL..email me ileapavel@yahoo.com ...see you
    Pavel Ilea

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    13
    Wow, Mr. Wegner...what great words. Thank you so much for taking the time to write all that. I can tell you still have a passion for this sport and for anyone who wants to play it!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Clearwater, Florida
    Posts
    32

    Misunderstanding

    Quote Originally Posted by shuttrbug View Post
    Wow, Mr. Wegner...what great words. Thank you so much for taking the time to write all that. I can tell you still have a passion for this sport and for anyone who wants to play it!
    Dear Shuttrbug, I did not post the previous long message written by "Coach". In response to your request for help with your son, he could make himself a happier individual if he chose a more moderate attitude in tennis and in life. The drinking (and hopefully not drugs) is very usual in college, and may disturb both his learning and tennis performance. Unfortunately, only kids with very strong goals and discipline overcome that scene these days. I wish he would have a good idea of what he wants to be and perform that way in life. Some great role models would help. Best wishes, Oscar
    Last edited by Coach; 09-21-2008 at 06:03 AM. Reason: Misunderstanding
    Oscar Wegner
    www.TennisTeacher.com
    THE LEADER in modern tennis teaching methodology.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    13
    Whoops, sorry about that. I thought that Coach, being a Super Moderator, was you. I apologize for the misunderstanding.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    707
    Quote Originally Posted by shuttrbug View Post
    Whoops, sorry about that. I thought that Coach, being a Super Moderator, was you. I apologize for the misunderstanding.

    No worries, Mr. Wegner is a well-known instructor and provider of tennis methods he's developed over the years which I believe you can see in the section of the forum called 'Modern Tennis Methodology' i.e. MTM.

    I am currently a High School Tennis Coach and have been teaching Tennis to kids for approx. 9 yrs now in this area (New England). I have nothing but good words for Mr. Wegner although I must admit we've not had the pleasure of meeting either in person or through this Forum. What I will say is this, please understand my meaning. Becoming a Tennis Professional isn't for everybody. Many try and many fail but that's the same in every Sport or Entertainment venture.

    What separates those who make it from those who don't is first & foremost a STRONG support base. Jelena Dokic, do you know that name? She was a very promising Star on the WTA Tour. She had everything going for her in terms of her ability and fighting spirit. However she also had one parent who made life for her, very difficult to a point where she finally couldn't stand the unnecessary pressure this parent subjected her to and quit the Tour.

    Support whatever he wants 100% and make him see that there is much to learn in losing as well as winning. Something funny I will pass onto you ..
    which makes my point .. A very great guy in the Tennis World was the late Vitas Gerulaitis. Vitas probably wasn't the greatest Tennis Player of all times but he was adored by all who had the pleasure of knowing him. After many years of losing to Jimmy Connors in a number of matches, he finally beat him in 1979 and his comment during his Post Match interview was, "Nobody beats Vitas Gerulaitis 17 times in a row". Well of course that was a very funny thing to say but to my point, after losing so many times, he finally figured what it was he needed to do. Jimmy Connors became a milestone achievement for Vitas and even Connors was happy he finally did.

    The only true opponent your Son has is himself. All of his off court activities that take him from the task at hand is merely a diversion until he figures it out in his head. He's struggling with a confidence issue right now and instead of hitting the Ball, he's taking a step back. That might not be a back thing as long as he recovers quickly. I'll be more than happy to correspond with him if you'd like my email address you can PM me.

    Cheers

    Coach
    The only acceptable loss is when your opponent was better than you on that given day.
    It is never acceptable to lose when your opponent was not.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    13
    Yes I have purchased all of Mr. Wegner's training DVDs and 2 books for both my sons.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    707
    I'm certain Mr. Wegner will be pleased to learn this. I wish you all the success in the World because as of late, Americans have fallen behind other countries in producing the best Players in the World. It would sure be a wonderful thing to read something from you informing us that your Son passed through the qualifying stages of a high level Tier event and is now in the main draw.

    If you find the time, tell me about his overall confidence level to the best of your ability. I fear if you were to ask him, he would say, it's fine but I'm interested from your point of view. The mental part of Tennis is something I deal with constantly with my kids. I love young people who see Tennis as a viable means of making a career. Even though it's very competitive on the face of it, the Pro Tour is a close nit community and they will do anything to welcome & help new comers.

    Buenas Suerte - Good Luck,
    Coach
    The only acceptable loss is when your opponent was better than you on that given day.
    It is never acceptable to lose when your opponent was not.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    13
    Like I said, I know he has a very strong desire to win and is very competitive but I also think he is afraid of success and this shows in his confidence. He plays very well against players who are alot better than him and doesn't get upset if he loses to them. But he struggles against those that are his level and he should be able to beat. He can get ahead in a match or even play catch up and get even when broken but struggles to win the ADD point or games when it really really counts. I don't know, maybe he's afraid to be the team leader and have everyone look to him. He's still a really shy kid.

    When he found out his coach recruited really heavy for players around his playing level (which is right now No. 5 to 8 on varsity), it really 'freaked' him out to the point where he was telling us he didn't understand the point of his coach doing this as if the coach didn't have confidence in him.
    As a freshman at No. 6 singles and 3 doubles team, he went undefeatable in conference play but struggled (as did all the other players) when playing higher division teams such as as D2 and D3s.
    As a sophomore last year, he went undefeated in doubles play in conference again but didn't play any singles on varsity because of the foreign students.
    Both years, the team has went to nationals but got beat handily in the first round. This is why the coach is bringing in the foreign kids so they could compete more on a national level.

    It's a shame the coach doesn't do what I think a good coach would do and that is see kids and players when they are struggling or doing well and talk to them either way.
    My son would THRIVE if his coach would give him any kind of positive feedback when he has done something well. That's the kind of kid he always has been, a bit of praise goes a long way. My son works harder in physical training than ANYONE on that team, he finishes first in all the running drills the coach has them do...but coach doesn't say a word. Why should he even try to be first, if the guy won't even acknowledge it. The other kids don't give 100% during PT.
    I have kinda told the coach that a couple weeks ago just in passing that he could help my son out alot with a bit of praise b/c I don't want to tell him how to do his job. But...really, isn't that his job? To help groom our kids to be better players on court and people off?

    This is how my son felt last year...the coach orders new shoes for all the players every year for both mens and womens teams...and guess who didn't get his b/c the coach f'ed up the order...that's right...my son. Out of 30 kids. Then, when he tried to order the shoes, they were out of stock and he ordered my son a cheaper pair. I HAD to buy him a good pair of court shoes.

    I had a chance to speak with Dr. Bryce Young who is a sports psychologist who called me the other day...and if I can swing it, and if my son really wants to improve I may us his services. Dr. Young told me its really up to my son whether or not he really wants to succeed or just be a good tennis player...nothing wrong with either. But why struggle mentally and confidence-wise with all the 'unknowns' of whether or not you are going to play well enough to be varsity material. I wouldn't want to. I hope he doesn't either.

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