The Great Tennis Bakeoff
As Britain becomes gripped with the Great British Bakeoff! Ok that is a shock tactic to get you to read this blog, I’ll admit it! I have no idea how a nation becomes gripped by a program about baking, but according to the media it has!
It hasn’t gripped me yet but it has made me write this as somehow the obsession with baking (not mine) has managed to plant a seed in my brain. In 1977 first venture into business was when I decided that I would make cakes for the Queens Silver Jubilee and sell them to relatives and friends. For a nine year old it was a pretty good business; I had zero costs, as I raided the cupboards at home and then took all the money. My mum happily supported my venture by buying yet more ingredients each time I ran out, and by coaching me in the art of making a victoria sandwich! Am still pretty good at it to this day!
But I very quickly learnt two things!
- You can’t make a good cake by leaving some ingredients out – the one without the eggs didn’t seem to work at all!
- You can’t just turn up the oven and make it bake quicker – despite scraping the burnt bits off it wasn’t a saleable commodity!
Like all good processes you have to do it right at each stage and you can’t speed up the process by taking short cuts and that’s the same in building a young player. You wondered where this was going, didn’t you?
Through my travels I have seen some great examples of under 10 tennis programs that really focus on the details where great coaches understand the growth and development of children and how each stage build on the previous. Equally I have seen some red, orange, yellow programs and some orange, green, yellow programs. Global best practice was used back in 1999 and 2000 to decide that there should be three stages before yellow and while the rule change in 2012 determined that sanctioned u10 competition could be with any of the three balls before yellow there still seems to be a disparity in how the process is used.
Competition equally is presented with emphasis more on one ball than the other. With ranking points for some levels and not for others, (my vote would be that there are no ranking points for any under 10 competition). The race still seems to be on to get from one ball to the other without attention to ingredients or cooking time.
While one of the big benefits of the ROG U10 program is the increased development of tactical skills there are still many examples of people throwing half the ingredients in the tin and expecting to win the bakeoff. As supporters of the ROG approach our fear is that in 5 years’ time people will reflect on the cakes that were baked with the missing ingredients and suggest that slower balls don’t work.
If you are going to do U10 tennis properly then you need to immerse yourself in every stage, understand the process in detail and focus from start to finish. Like all coaching it’s about looking at the needs of the player in front of you but it’s also about understanding the recipe.
Nov 7th – 9th we will be presenting much of this detail at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. We would love to see you there so we can help you to build a world class under 10 program for your facility.