As per coaches, my son was doing good in both Gymnastics and Rugby, but when I looked at him doing those, I did not find any spark or natural talent as such for those two sports. I think he was doing good because he had some athletic talent but most of time he was just lucky to be at the right place :). There was another issue, it was boring for me personally as well. I did not participate with him or even followed those sports in general and therefore there was a little communication between us regarding those activities. As kids initially do things just to impress their parents and in absence of any passionate interest from my side, he was getting dull about those two activities. At this point, I thought to introduce real Tennis to him and was hoping if he gets it OK we will have some activity to spend time together. I had zero understanding of coaching to kids and wasn’t aware of any learning paths for kids (which I learnt a little later).
I already had lots of tennis rackets at home but they were all adults one. So I asked him to pick one and he picked 27.5 inch one, longest I had. It didn’t even occur to me then that I should have looked for kids size racquet for him (surprisingly). To make it sound even worse, I picked up my ball machine’s pressure less balls (Xtreme) to start with. These balls are even harder than normal balls. Again I was not even aware of Red/Orange/Green balls at that time.
We started at a local club near to our place. Surprisingly his first issue was not heavy balls or big racquet, infact he was a little bit afraid of balls hitting him in case his racquet missed them. He was not stranger to the game as he was aware of all the rules and scoring through his Xbox experience but feeling the balls close to his body was new for him. That fear of balls hitting him made him to watch every ball until the end while swinging his racquet.
I don’t remember him having too much difficulty in his hand-eye coordination.
He didn’t have any power initially to cross the service box across the net. So I encouraged him to swing faster [This would be a big no no in coaching terms]. After his initial hard work, soon he was able hit across the whole court.
I had no idea what to do next but this was fun for both of us. I was already passionate for Tennis and now I also had another family member, who could speak the same language. We were spending lot more time on court.
One day it was raining but we both wanted to go so I booked only indoor court in the town. When we went there, some guys were still using the court. We waited for some time to let them finish but as indoor court booking times were very strict due to limited availability, I interrupted them and told that we had booking. They started packing while we jumped on the court. As it was already late, I immediately started feeding the balls. My son was also excited so he started hitting as well. One of the guys, who were playing before us was also watching him while packing up. After a few balls, he came to me asked how old was my son. He introduced himself as the talent development manager for Tennis for the state and asked if I would be interested to know more about the development opportunities. I then recognized him.
After a few more weeks of training my son, I wanted to know if he was any good from a more experienced and independent persons point of view; whether he should take-up Tennis seriously.
The talent development manager was kind enough to come over in one of our training sessions. He watched him while I was feeding the balls. He also watched me how I was feeding the balls. He then fed some balls by himself. He then asked how much I knew about Tennis and finally he thought my son was good enough for his age but he asked me to get a proper coach for him 😉 . He also told me that we were using wrong racquet and wrong balls. This was the start of Tennis journey for both, my son and also for myself. My Tennis education was about to start and I was about to start exploring the endlessly fascinating new world of Tennis as I had never known it before.
The focus was now full on Tennis.