Our understanding of Tennis, in terms of skills required, changed over time.
When we started, we focussed on basic skills of forehand, backhand and service. While my son’s tennis skills in terms of strokes improved, I did not find him improving on his athletics level, even though we were spending lot of time on court and that’s lot of running as well.
Something was amiss, I was not impressed with his feet movement. Through out the 8th year, I focussed on his movement. He improved slightly but not yet at the level required. I had no idea why; I also discussed with coach but he was not too concerned for the moment.
My son is brilliant when the ball height and distance is perfect. But the moment he needed to adjust his position to get to the right height and distance, he would most likely make mistake.
I am not sure wether its his physical abilities or he is just not bothered to commit himself (read lazy) at times. So I thought to tackle both. I have taken a leave from his Tennis coach for at least a term and put him into an athletics squad. Athletics target different muscle groups, which should make him stronger. Plus Athletics squad spends lot more time on stretching and warming up exercise than Tennis squad and that should instill some good habits and prevent injuries. So far its only once a week for a couple of hrs. If he likes it I shall increase number of days.
For the other “mental awareness” side of things, what I meant is the control i.e. can he place the ball where he wants every time, where opponent is not forcing any error. Currently the answer is Nope. This is also where my son has a very different start from others in his age group. Generally kids start with the control and move on to master their strokes but in my son case, he has not yet at the decent level of controlling balls. That’s where our focus is as well for rest of summer.
I have been doing above plan for a few weeks now but I have not seen any improvements so far 🙁 . It could also be due to the fact that we had to cut down hrs spent on Tennis courts in order to accommodate all these. Plus he is lot more tired at the moment because of Athletics. I shall though continue to focus on these for another couple of months.
My son is turning 9 in a month time. So looking back at the year, I could say he is a lot better than last year but he does not have much to show for. He also played a few u12 tournaments (which use normal yellow balls) with mixed outcomes. His u10 tournaments were also similarly lacklustre.
Age 8 was a year more of learning than performing. He opened fronts on physical and mental side of Tennis, besides strokes. It is a difficult state of mind where we need to focus on multiple things.
The end goal is to put those fronts in an auto mode and focus back on enjoying competing and playing, where we both excel 🙂