3 Essentials for Developing A Pro Player
I wanted to share three essentials to developing a professional player while on the "seed to fruit pathway." I asked myself this question, "What would professional development look like as a program?" This is a short blog post to address some of the wireframe pieces.
I find that most people have a perspective battle with knowing the difference between "developing a professional specific game" versus "having a player who can win throughout the amateur ranks." This said I wanted to offer a few pearls of wisdom to help everyone move forward. Below are three significant words everyone must understand before embarking on the seed to fruit pathway:
- Spend about four (4) hours a day & five (5) days.
- You will never be able to schedule a breakthrough in this life, nor an appointment to become a professional tennis player.
- It takes the time that it takes for you to complete the work each day. This probably means traditional private lessons from a teaching pro will never get it done.
- Commitment to the process has to come with sacrifice or you are not going about it the right way.
- You will lose the opportunities to make everything about family, friends parties, and vacations. Within the month, maybe a little of this can happen. However, if your social time is that important (that you sacrifice the tennis process), consider yourself not that serious.
- Be intentional with your time. Break up the time throughout the day and night.
- Trajectory Training - Make sure you are training for a very high trajectory. This is a long game you are playing in growth. Raise your expectations in order to scale your preparation.
- Dedicated time for technique, tactics, fitness, stretching, miscellaneous exploratory exercises, feeding/rallying reps, point play, and communication.
- Have an overall vision of where the thing you are training should lead you to. The question shouldn't be "what is this for," it should be "where this is headed?" Again, high trajectory thinking.
- Supportive Training - At least half of the time, mix in another player with your training on and off the court. Also, the coach should consider bringing in additional eyes and opinions about what he is doing. Not that the coach should change anything; however, thinking about your thinking makes the difference when growing is at the center of development.
- Remember a healthy challenge or the right question could shed light on your entire narrative.
- Iron-sharpens-iron period. The player needs hitting partners better and bigger. I am not talking about a high ranked junior (this tennis is not going anywhere - use an adult).
- When the player can competently stroke the ball, scale the level with transitional level professional players (such as Futures and top-flight college players).
- Playability Training - Match play under strain is important. Give clear and sometimes extreme tasks (such as making every serve over 100mph, transitioning to the net on the 3rd ball, the return of service game must start from inside the baseline, and etc). Also, drop the player in a tournament unexpectedly.
- Train in and out the habits and thinking you need.
- The coach should bring in and filter (manage) specialists for areas like fitness, health, wellness, rehab and other performance needs.
- Transparency is required for transformation to be successful.
- Personal Transformation - It's not the player that you are transforming, it's the person. The person leads the player all day. I call this personal development for professional success.
- What you sow, you grow. Player and coach (even the parent) should be a little self-aware throughout the process.
- It's important for the parents to not be disruptive during this process. Sometimes parents have a relationship vision issue with respect to their role and the coach's role. There is this idea of what they had in mind when they had the child in play. Wanting to be there for the first this, and the first that... Most of the times these kids are doomed and will go nowhere. Not enough resources to feed three. You can only have the coach and the player.
- There is no age group in professional tennis. Playing age groups will only serve as a narrative distraction.
- Communication is absolutely required - before, during and after every session.
- Performance Transformation - To make the player ready for a real game time, they should be exposed to game scenarios on-court, professional tournament environments (in front and behind the scenes), and professional players to train with on-and-off the court. Also, find a way to have the player work with other pro athletes from other sports. This will help shift their perspective and provide a better appreciation for working.
- Feel free to reach out and email questions to me.
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