Was your bedroom wall plastered with posters of your sporting heroes? Mine were and I think we have an opportunity to bring the nostalgic days of posters on children’s bedroom walls.
I am fed up of competitive tennis players not following professional tennis. There are more opportunities to watch tennis than at any point in history. Unfortunately there’s also a million times more distractions for children’s time nowadays. How can we get our children back to studying the game they say they love playing.
I have lost count of the times I have asked very good competitive tennis players if they watched the amazing tennis match the night before. Their reply is often ‘what tournament is on?’ In the very next breath I hear them talk about Jose Morinho’s latest outburst in a press conference and they don’t even play football.
Watching and studying tennis matches is such an obvious and powerful way of learning how to play the game. You learn so much from really sitting down and watching the professional players problem solve on the court.
I could have told you who my tennis friends had been watching recently on TV as they would pick up all the little idiosyncrasies of their technique and style. Every week I would change my service action to emulate the players I had most recently been captivated by.
Then I began to collect tennis magazines and, before you know it, my bedroom walls were covered in all my favourite players. I could have told you what racket they used, what it was made of, it’s weight, balance, stringing pattern, tension of strings and so on. I would read those magazines from cover to cover and then start again.
I remember finding a VHS tape long enough to record the 1988 Nabisco Masters Final (equivalent of the World Tour Finals). It was Becker vs Lendl. Becker was my idol (not any more). It was a massive 5 set match where Becker won in the 5th set tie-break with a dead net cord after a 37 shot rally. I used to watch that match over and over studying everything they did. I’ve put the match point below (point starts at 1m 07s in).
I’m not a fan of talent ID in juniors but if I was to dream up a talent ID programme it would be completely out of the box and include questions on how much tennis kids watch, who their favourite players were, how do they play, what’s their best shot etc.
I would also pay particular attention to the late starters as I often find they are the ones who really love the game. I believe starting tennis very young often makes kids sick of it by the time where they should be loving it the most.
So, let’s get our kids back into watching tennis, reading magazines and books on it and putting their favourite players up on their walls. Bring back the poster days!
As with every other journal entry I make, if you like it, please share it with your tennis friends.
Thank you for taking the time to read it and let me know what you think.
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