US Tennis Performance

I have particularly interested in the reaction to the poor performance of American players at the Australian Open. The hue and cry is similar to what I have seen in other sports over the years as other countries caught up to us. Success in sports is not the exclusive domain of the United States. Many other countries are taking a much more systematic approach to the Long Term Athletic Development process than the US. I have written several different times in this blog about the decline in youth fitness and lack of physical education. That is the foundation for any kind of athletic success. You cannot build a house without a foundation. In our local paper this morning tennis guru Nick Bollettieri offered up some of his opinions. It was what you expect from a guru, quite self serving. His idea was to bring back the past, get kids younger into academies and play more tennis! To quote Bollettieri “We had them at a young age and never ran out of ammunition. We should be concentrating on players who are 11, 12, 13 and 14 years of age.” I had the opportunity to consult at a nearby academy several years ago (Not Bollettieri’s but modeled on that) and it was ridiculous. The kids were on the court up to eight hours a day. It violated all principles of sound training and motor learning. They were just repeating errors when they were tired. When that was done then they were supposed to strength train or do ‘speed’ development. It was borderline abusive. For all of this the parents were paying in excess of $20,000 a year. Needless to say the players who have talent and survive are good. Contrast this with other countries that are systematically developing their players. They work on coordination and specific fitness. They observe the influence of growth and development. Folks this is a problem that transcends tennis. Look at basketball it is much the same.


At 1/25/06, 12:11 PM, Blogger Joe P. said...

Glad you mentioned basketball Vern. As soon as the season ends, the kids go from "AAU" to "Summer League" to "Open Gym". The athleticism they come into high school with is what they leave with. Looking forward to your book.

At 1/25/06, 1:33 PM, Blogger jbeyle said...

How do we get the message across? Some of these coaches (AAU, Select Soccer, etc.) are looked upon by parents and coaches as almost gods. We have the potential to have a wonderful school soccer team this spring, but many of the girls are being denied "permission" to play from their club coach. I went to a basketball game yesterday (middle school in which my daughter plays) and an AAU coach was coaching from the stands. I truly believe it has to start with the parents and taking back control of their kid's future. Tough situation. As "just a PE teacher", my knowledge has no weight to these "experts."

At 1/26/06, 10:15 AM, Blogger HEARTSTART SERVICES, INC. said...

As a Tennis Instuctor for 5 years now I very much agree that kids are over trained and in regards to their health and wellbeing, and underappreciated(with there voice in training). Giving kids a say so in there training is also important. It allows them to stick around longer "The kids have a voice and its paramount to listen to them". If they show extreme signs of fatigue it should not be folled into strength training then intensive anaerobic activity. REST...REST..REST.. the body.

At 1/26/06, 2:01 PM, Blogger jbeyle said...

Another scary thing is the cumulative effect of the kids that do choose to play multiple sports. We have several kids who are playing school basketball (5 days a week), play volleyball 2-3 nights during the week and select soccer on the weekends. When do they rest?


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