The comedian Jeff Foxworthy gets more than a few laughs with his ongoing “you know you are a redneck if…” routine. Along those lines, here are a few thoughts for you and your junior player:
…You carry your own racquet bag. If Mom is carrying your bag, you are not a tennis player.
…In your bag you have a jump rope that you use and use repeatedly with strenuous routines.
…You have a pair of running shoes in your bag for your off-court running program.
…You, yes, you make weekly phone calls to organize varied hitting sessions and match play.
…You can string your own racquets.
…You use the internet for other reasons than to just check out who your next opponent has played.
… You actually watch tennis on TV and can have a conversation that is deeper than the “small talk” of most commentators.
…You go to the net for reasons other than picking up balls and shaking hands.
…You study the game. For example, you have read some of Dr. James Loehr’s books as well as autobiographies on former legendary players. You know that “Billie Jean” is much more than just the name of Andy Roddick’s dog.
…You truly understand your level of play and are truly working on aspects of your game that will take you to the next level.
The list, of course, is endless.
You Know You Are NOT a Tennis Player, Especially a Very Good Player, If …
…Every time you are on the court, you’re on the court with a paid professional.
…You never hit on the backboard.
…You never, on your own, just go hit serves.
…One of your parents still wakes you up in the morning and you go off to school each day without doing something to improve your game.
…You have no interest in playing doubles.
You Know You Are a SOLID Tennis Player If …
…You have played in front of spectators you personally do not know.
…You have watched a college tennis match and do not think achieving that level of play is a piece of cake.
…You have to board airplanes and upon arrival have to play the qualifier.
…You may not care for Bud’s pants, but you love the historical perspective Mr. Collins shares with us in the tennis world.
…You know you are a solid player only if you hit the ball “solid.”
I have studied and worked under many great tennis teachers. Great teachers are always trying to make a point that registers, hits home and makes a difference. Today parents are more involved with their kid’s tennis than ever before. So, I try to make educational input stick with the parents as well.
Upon evaluating a junior player’s strokes in slow motion with logic and scientific rationale, I avoid being politically correct – I tell the kid that eventually his or her technical flaws will be a wall, stopping their game from growing. Often the parents need to hear it in a tougher manner without their child present.
If your kid’s serve, for example, is not technically sound, then the light at the end of the tunnel is a train coming right at them. Make a list. Combine Jeff Foxworthy with Vic Braden. If you are beating your own serve to the net, you are not a tennis player. If your opponent is returning your serve from the service line, you are not a “solid” tennis player. Humor should bring out honesty.
Parents, ask your child if he or she is honestly doing what it takes to get better. The best adjective for effort is “honest” effort. Tennis kids are going nowhere fast if they are not building skills through a daily honest effort.
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