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Getting Players on the Pathway - and Keeping Them There

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  • Getting Players on the Pathway - and Keeping Them There

    Let's discuss Paul Lubber's interview on "Getting Players on the Pathway - and Keeping Them There"

  • #2
    God nice to see someone from the USTA be so forth right. Those numbers about tournament participation are stunning. 15,000 kids? With so called 20 million national players? Now we are getting to the reality!

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    • #3
      Originally posted by ClassicStrokes View Post
      God nice to see someone from the USTA be so forth right. Those numbers about tournament participation are stunning. 15,000 kids? With so called 20 million national players? Now we are getting to the reality!
      Very few kids these days want to be players. Take a ton of player driven passion firstly, family and community to make it happen.
      Last edited by hockeyscout; 05-07-2016, 03:04 AM.

      Comment


      • #4
        The number of juniors in the UK playing competitively is also tiny. Our recreational player base is quite large but few are inclined to take the game further than that. I am not sure how reliable these national figures are either. Figures in the UK are probably inflated because the LTA encourage coaches and clubs to hit player-number targets. It's easy to artificially inflate numbers here to appease the LTA. But that's by the bye.

        We are about a year in front of the US in terms of strategy to combat declining numbers. We are doing this by tweaking things to make the game more palatable for parents.

        You see, the problem starts when players leave mini tennis. Mini red events last a couple of hours at most. Mini orange events last two to three hours. Mini green events last just 3 or 4 hours. But when a kid reaches yellow ball they are then playing two matches per day and often these matches are significantly spaced out. The parent is therefore at a venue all day long. On top of this, yellow ball matches often involve a fair bit of travelling. If a child gets through the early two rounds, they then have to return the next day and do it all again. Summer tournaments often involve children playing the entire week if the make it through the early rounds.

        The LTA have done away with the third set in many events and implemented a ten-point tiebreak to replace it. They are also likely to make it mandatory that singles events are played over a couple of days. This winter season they implemented fast four events, which are diabolically quick, to make events run even quicker. All these adaptions have been to appease the parents who don't want too much hanging around. Building a tennis player would seem to be secondary by all accounts.

        It's all a load of cobblers. The game is being diluted to a ridiculous degree. Tennis is mirroring life. No one wants to wait for anything these days. They want it now...right now. The game is in trouble.

        The odd thing is the children don't seem to mind long days. Many would play all day and come the next to play all day again. The problem is the parents.
        Stotty

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        • #5
          Stotty,

          Amazingly similar situations! But one thing I think is a factor that Paul alludes to and I wonder if it is for you guys too. The absolute toxicity of the tournament environment. The cheating. The families turning on opposing young players.

          It's not a positive joyous sports experience. For us we had incredible team competitions in US junior high school. If it wasn't for that I doubt I would be where I am now. Saw my old junior high school coach last year. He is 80 and the same as ever. Some of my all time best memories--not just tennis memories. We have to find a way to create that kind of environment.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by johnyandell View Post
            Stotty,

            Amazingly similar situations! But one thing I think is a factor that Paul alludes to and I wonder if it is for you guys too. The absolute toxicity of the tournament environment. The cheating. The families turning on opposing young players.

            It's not a positive joyous sports experience. For us we had incredible team competitions in US junior high school. If it wasn't for that I doubt I would be where I am now. Saw my old junior high school coach last year. He is 80 and the same as ever. Some of my all time best memories--not just tennis memories. We have to find a way to create that kind of environment.
            Cheating certainly doesn’t help. And in the mini tennis stages there are clearly going to be problems when kids are left to adjudicate their own matches, which in the UK often starts as early as mini orange. By the time children reach mini green wonky line calls are rife. This often rectifies itself by the time kids are 12. The better brought up kids are calling correctly and you are left with those who genuinely cheat. As there isn’t the manpower to referee every match, these problems look difficult to completely eradicate.

            The LTA have a FAIR PLAY motto which they brandish wherever they can in an attempt to educate both parents and children. It’s a good thing and has certainly helped. FAIR PLAY posters are seen everywhere at tournaments and their message is starting to become embedded in the psyche.

            https://www.lta.org.uk/globalassets/...&_t_hit.pos=55

            I think the cheating problems are more acute in the US than here. I have known many Brits who have been in the college system over there and found it diabolical. They found the level of cheating during matches to be both high and blatantly obvious.

            But cheating certainly plays a part in making tennis unpleasant here in the UK also. I run a substantial Open tournament every year in August. I get round these cheating problems by making sure all matches at red, orange and green are umpired. It takes a lot of manpower but there are rarely any problems on my watch. It’s the only way to go in my view.

            But the overall problem is one of children leaving the game at both recreational and competitive levels. There are bucketloads of mini reds here. By the time they reach mini orange that figure is well more than halved. When they reach mini green the figures are well more than halved again.

            Retention is vital. No one has thought about this problem more than me. The club I work at is phenomenal for its size. We have seven courts and a junior membership of 400. We are a grass roots and development centre right at the heart of British Tennis. What happens at a facility like mine is crucial.

            I have five other coaches working with me. All are good at what they do and have the personality for the job. One of them I recruited specially is a slightly mad, coco the clown character. Even he cannot stem the flow of kids that exit the game from our club. So what is the problem? Why do kids leave the game?

            The majority of coaches in my vicinity collectively agree on one thing. Kids start too young. A lot of us think if kids started tennis aged eight going on nine the game would be better off. Children aged younger perceive tennis as a game (like tiddlywinks or hide and seek) not a sport. A child approaching nine can start to see that tennis is not only a game but also a sport. A kid starting tennis aged nine can immediately be captivated by the game in a way he could never be at a younger age.

            All sports are competing for athletes. Each sport has devised ways to attract children at the youngest possible age. But are they all just slitting their own throats? Is it not simply a self-defeating strategy? I think it is.

            I guess the million dollar question is can a child starting at nine be as good one starting at six? A lot of coaches will tell you no. I am not convinced.

            I would like Paul Lubbers to visit the forum and share more of his thoughts. Can you get him to do this, John? Tell him Stotty is like-minded and wants a chat.
            Last edited by stotty; 05-08-2016, 11:49 PM.
            Stotty

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            • #7
              I can ask. But I suspect that probably crosses some unwritten political line.

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              • #8
                The 1,000,000€ Question…To Bank or Not to Bank on Babies

                Originally posted by licensedcoach View Post
                Cheating certainly doesn’t help. And in the mini tennis stages there are clearly going to be problems when kids are left to adjudicate their own matches, which in the UK often starts as early as mini orange. By the time children reach mini green wonky line calls are rife. This often rectifies itself by the time kids are 12. The better brought up kids are calling correctly and you are left with those who genuinely cheat. As there isn’t the manpower to referee every match, these problems look difficult to completely eradicate.

                The LTA have a FAIR PLAY motto which they brandish wherever they can in an attempt to educate both parents and children. It’s a good thing and has certainly helped. FAIR PLAY posters are seen everywhere at tournaments and their message is starting to become embedded in the psyche.

                https://www.lta.org.uk/globalassets/...&_t_hit.pos=55

                I think the cheating problems are more acute in the US than here. I have known many Brits who have been in the college system over there and found it diabolical. They found the level of cheating during matches to be both high and blatantly obvious.

                But cheating certainly plays a part in making tennis unpleasant here in the UK also. I run a substantial Open tournament every year in August. I get round these cheating problems by making sure all matches at red, orange and green are umpired. It takes a lot of manpower but there are rarely any problems on my watch. It’s the only way to go in my view.

                But the overall problem is one of children leaving the game at both recreational and competitive levels. Their are bucketloads of mini reds here. By the time they reach mini orange that figure is well more than halved. When they reach mini green the figures are well more than halved again.

                Retention is vital. No one has thought about this problem more than me. The club I work at is phenomenal for its size. We have seven courts and a junior membership of 400. We are a grass roots and development centre right at the heart of British Tennis. What happens at a facility like mine is crucial.

                I have five other coaches working with me. All are good at what they do and have the personality for the job. One of them I recruited specially is a slightly mad, coco the clown character. Even he cannot stem the flow of kids that exit the game from our club. So what is the problem? Why do kids leave the game?

                The majority of coaches in my vicinity collectively agree on one thing. Kids start too young. A lot of us think if kids started tennis aged eight going on nine the game would be better off. Children aged younger perceive tennis as a game (like tiddlywinks or hide and seek) not a sport. A child approaching nine can start to see that tennis is not only a game but also a sport. A kid starting tennis aged nine can immediately be captivated by the game in a way he could never be at a younger age.

                All sports are competing for athletes. Each sport has devised ways to attract children at the youngest possible age. But are they all just slitting their own throats? Is it not simply a self-defeating strategy? I think it is.

                I guess the million dollar question is can a child starting at nine be as good one starting at six? A lot of coaches will tell you no. I am not convinced.

                I would like Paul Lubbers to visit the forum and share more of his thoughts. Can you get him to do this, John? Tell him Stotty is like-minded and wants a chat.
                Super post! Let's make it euros! Tilden said…"it takes one year to learn to play the game, five years to be a tennis player and ten years to make a champion". Do the math…you are absolutely correct and then some.

                Banking on babies to save the day? Pure and utter nonsense.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by johnyandell View Post
                  I can ask. But I suspect that probably crosses some unwritten political line.
                  He doesn't have to cross any lines, just compare notes with me. Like Paul I am looking for solutions. Retention is the biggest problem in our sport right now. If we don't tackle it soon we will pay for it a few years down the line, in fact we are paying for it now already. American tennis is in the doldrums and it's likely your system will produce no one. Like us, what you need is a genius to come along who can succeed in spite of the system.
                  Stotty

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                  • #10
                    Like I said I will ask.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Stotty,

                      So Paul said he would visit! Why don't you ask him a question and then he will have some direction when he logins in. If anyone else has a comment or question feel free to leave it. But let's keep them to a couple of sentences.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Message for Paul Lubbers

                        Paul,

                        I have written a couple of posts already in this thread. I am from the UK but we are having identical problems to yourselves.

                        I have a question for you:

                        I feel kids start too young. Wouldn't it be better to start kids aged eight or nine? Children age 4-7 I feel perceive tennis as a game (like hide and seek) and not a sport. A child approaching nine can start to see tennis not only as a game but also as a sport, and be captivated by it.

                        All sports are competing for athletes. Each sport has devised ways to attract children at the youngest possible age. But are they all just slitting their own throats? Is it not simply a self-defeating strategy? I think it is. The burnout of kids in our sport is huge. Are they not starting too early?
                        Last edited by stotty; 05-11-2016, 01:05 PM.
                        Stotty

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          The Tennis Baby Syndrome...

                          Originally posted by don_budge View Post
                          Tilden said…"it takes one year to learn to play the game, five years to be a tennis player and ten years to make a champion". Do the math…you are absolutely correct and then some.

                          Banking on babies to save the day? Pure and utter nonsense.
                          Originally posted by licensedcoach View Post
                          It's all a load of cobblers. The game is being diluted to a ridiculous degree. Tennis is mirroring life. No one wants to wait for anything these days. They want it now...right now. The game is in trouble.

                          The problem is the parents.
                          Hammer…hit head. You've got it in a nutshell. Scary Stotty…he's sounding a bit like me.

                          The game is dumbed down. Tennis is metaphoring life. WE are in real trouble. The brain trust has it ass backwards as usual. Or they know how messed up it is and just try to keep it on life support.

                          Here comes the post Roger Federer culmination point…any guesses about what happens next?

                          Suggestion…not that anybody is listening to me. Re-engineer. Social engineering. Here's a clue for you all…it has been designed to fail. Engineered to devolve. The only thing evolving these days is AI (artificial intelligence).

                          Let's begin by teaching children to play. I can only imagine what they are teaching them in school these days. Not much I would hazard a guess. Teach them to play. Spend a couple of hours every day in their favorite physical activities. Keep them moving.

                          The dumbing down process has taken a number of decades. To reverse the trend will take a number of decades. Hell…even making the decision to reverse the trend will take forever.

                          Originally posted by hockeyscout View Post
                          Very few kids these days want to be players. Take a ton of player driven passion firstly, family and community to make it happen.
                          Tennis was traditionally a family affair. The family has been destroyed…gay marriage and the LBGT agenda are some indicators to measure by. Television shows like "Modern Family", "I am Cait", "Two and a Half Men". That's the fact…families have been destroyed. Look at divorce statistics. Look at relationships between men and women. All in the dust bin. The mulch pile of traditional behavior. It used to be that we as children took up the game because mom and dad did. Big brother or big sister started playing. We were just mimicking what they did.

                          Mom and Dad don't have time anymore. They probably aren't even together. It's easier to give the kid some kind of electronic device to amuse himself. It sure beats trying to hold up some kind of disciplined regimen. Discipline is cruel anyways isn't it…politically correctly speaking.

                          Toxic tournament environments? By it's very nature it is dog eat dog. You have to be old enough, tough enough and secure enough to manage that process. Cheating? Welcome to the game sonny. The game of life. Little children simply don't have the bones for that. They are too young to be told the facts of life. Tennis is like that and you cannot dress it up otherwise…there is a winner and a loser. Human nature dictates the rest of it.

                          John's old American model of the junior high school days evolved into high school days and then even college days. Progressive pressures. Structured tournament play during the summers. Whatever happened to all of that? It's a strange game…it requires you to accept total responsibility for what is happening on your court…on your side of the court. That is some tough stuff…it always has been. It ain't for veal calves.

                          I went to a Platform Tennis Seminar recently here in Sweden. It's all about this sort of thing…tennis for kids. I asked the question…the 60,000 dollar question. How many kids that begin playing mini-tennis are still playing at 15 years old? Statistically? There was no answer. Strange…I would have thought that would be one of the first questions that would be answered. Silly me.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Beyond "The Tennis Baby Syndrome"...

                            Re-engineer. We need a program that infiltrates the school systems. Athletes that are excelling in other sports should be also introduced to tennis. Stotty suggests the age of nine instead of four or five. I'm going one step further…let's recruit independent of age.

                            It only takes one year to learn how to play the game…five years to be a player. Ten to make a champion. They don't all have to be champions…but we need numbers. We not only need numbers…we need players. You can take a 12 year old in one year and he is playing the game. The twelve year old has hopefully received a lot of sports training in other sports and comes to tennis with a lot of skills that won't have to taught from scratch as they will with a child. That same twelve year old will come to tennis with some success in other endeavours and will not be so daunted in playing a sport that is entirely individual. A twelve year old is developed enough physically, emotionally and intellectually to realize what he has gotten himself into. He comes to practice on his own volition. A seven year old is not…neither are most ten year olds for that matter.

                            The kiddie program is fine but it's only looking for a needle in a haystack...why neglect harvesting the rest of the field. Look at the tennis being played today. It is stunted in the junior game. It is literally retarded. Toddlers have an inkling of success in their baby tennis and have a difficult time giving up the two hand backhand because it is like taking away their favorite security blanket.

                            John's comments about the junior high tennis…which morphs into high school tennis…which morphs into college tennis is the most logical, economical and sane logistical approach. Remember when tennis players used to join the army? Whole Davis Cup squads were made up of military members.
                            Last edited by don_budge; 05-12-2016, 12:55 AM. Reason: for clarity's sake...

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                            • #15
                              Hello Stotty

                              I like the way you’re thinking!! Early Specialization in sport causes more harm than good. Many individuals ( coaches, sport administrators etc) take the adult model of training and practice in sport and impose it on children who are not ready developmentally for a high volume of training. Premature injury, burnout and often kids quitting a sport occurs. I believe in early sport initiation and the specialization can begin when a child really falls in love with the sport and are playing it for themselves. Early sport initiation is really just creating opportunities for youth to play multiple sports, to have fun and develop an athletic base.

                              Paul Lubbers Ph.D.
                              Sr. Director of Coaching Education & Performance
                              USTA Player Development Incorporated

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