| By Ricky Becker

Different coaches teach different things and have different theories.  The problem is, I'm the only one who is right.  Just kidding of course (at least the obnoxious attitude.)  One of the items I have debated with some other coaches over the last few years is the amount of tournaments kids younger than 11-years old should play.  I really believe that kids of this age should at most play an averag of one tournament a month.  Here are the reasons I think this....

  1. A lot of kids I know who are admittedly burned out when they are 15, 16, 17 (peak years) will openly admit that they would have more motivation if they didn't saturate so much of their younger childhood on playing tournaments every weekend.  Playing tournaments seemed fun and important at the time, but by the time these kids were 14-years old, they were ready for the next chapter of their lives.
  2. Winning strategies are losing strategies at a young age.  Why consistently rehearse them?  Net play, offensive tennis and conditioning are increasingly important in later years.  They are often losing or unimportant tactics/characteristics at the younger age groups.  Subconciously, they force kids to often deemphasize these important tactics.
  3. This whole tournamnt thing is a marathon and not a sprint for parents.  Trust me, if you want to raise a tournament playing junior, you will have to miss plenty of weekend activities with your friends.  You can raise a tournament playing junior who achieves goals without living this lifestyle twice the years you really need to.
  4. I prefer my students to salivate for their next tournament.  It should be a carrot and a reward for practice.  Not something that is a dull, mundane part of the routine.

Ricky Becker is The Director of Tennis at Glen Oaks Club.  Ricky also coaches high-performance juniors throughout the year and has been the Director of Tennis at three of Long Island’s biggest junior programs.  As a player, Becker was the Most Valuable Player for the 1996 NCAA Championship Stanford Tennis team and ranked in the top-five nationally as a junior.  He can be reached at rbecker06@yahoo.com, 516-359-4843 or via juniortennisconsulting.com.