After working with many junior players in their development years (7 to 12 years) through our regular coaching programs, we have found that there is one certainty; no individual players’ development or pathway will ever be the same.
But one thing is for sure, is that Rome was not built in a day, and the journey is long with plenty of speed bumps. Long term it is very important to stay the course based on your (the player, the coach & the parent) plan, not based on results. Many label results of a junior player as either good or bad, but the result is irrelevant. The key is the learning taken from the result and the player’s ability to develop a competitive mindset, irrespective of the score.
5 rules for developing a sports kid under 12 years
One of the biggest mistakes made in developing an elite junior tennis player is that the fundamental development years (8-12 years) are rushed the minute a player gets a result or two.
In these times, parents (and tennis coaches) can get carried away with their child/player winning. It seems that patience and ego takes over the actual plan.
Remember for junior tennis players under 12, they should:
- Stay the course, follow the long term development plan. If you don’t have one, then find a tennis coach who does.
- Focus on developing the athlete. They should be spending at least 40%-50% on other athletic skills and games.
- Compete, but the goal must be focused on working on the game (technique, tactics, mindset), not results. Help the player complete with high levels of consistency.
- Periodise your tournaments and competition play
- The best monitor of progression is what I like to call the ‘fun-o-meter’. Keep developing technique skills, as well as their athletic development for progress – and not a tennis ranking sheet.