You know that point in an arm wrestle when two evenly matched opponents seem to always get to. The part where their arm starts to shake and you know they are in for the long haul. Loving that part is the nature of being a great competitor and if you love this part the chances are you will like the challenges that tennis brings.
For young kids this part is difficult to love because they believe that as long as they try their best they should be successful, it is part of the nature of being a child. Thinking the world is always fair and no one else has an influence on what happens in your world!
Well-meaning coaches and parents can often make this worse, believing that their job is to make a child successful, a winner, a champion when actually children would naturally experience failure every day if their environment was not interfered with. After all when not under the microscope children call failure “trying” and are quite used to things being tough, they are, after all, little people in a world designed for adults. The very nature of parents being supportive means that now children are in a goldfish bowl style court with ever watchful eyes looking in. Pressure comes not from losing or the challenge but by being judged based on expectations.
The Court Warrior workshop looks at these issues and helps you to train young players and parents so that they understand the battle and love it. Adversity becomes the fun part, winning or losing is just the bit that happens at the end. So we thought we would share one of our favorite games from the workshop, it’s simple enough but if you really understand it you can come up with other options.
We call this game Roll Em as it uses a dice. You can use a physical one or download one of the multitude of dice apps to your phone. To start a tiebreak each child must roll the dice. These points are then free. So if one player rolls a four and the other a one the tiebreak starts 4:1. If the players in the lead wins the Tb then they get one point for their win but if the players who is behind wins they are awarded two points. If both players roll the same to start then roll again until the players roll an uneven start.
The secret is simple, add a luck element to start the game that creates an uneven starting point. The child might huff at first but once they realize that if they are behind they get the chance to win double points they can start to enjoy the luck element of the game and as it is only for one TB they are quickly on to the next match.
This is just one of the very simple ideas that we use in our workshop and we believe that this type of training is essential. Competition is the tipping point for long term participation. Getting it right means players are hooked for life but getting it wrong can mean a quick sprint for the door and on to another sport or activity. A young players readiness is often viewed based on their skill level but we should understand that they ability to deal with the mental challenges of the game are far more likely to determine if they love the game or not.
Don’t miss the opportunity to understand if your young players are really ready!