Looking for the Champion 2

Rowden December 2020

The first stage in the development of any young player should be with the racket in the hand -- in other words the first priority should lie in the area of skills.

Bodily strength and conditioning can come later and will be part of the growth process. There should be too an early focus on attitude, that every ball has a purpose and that intensity in training is critical; this leads eventually to the understanding of the importance of keeping pressure on the opponent and keeping them off balance and produces winners, not just performers.

Crucial too is the early understanding that the one absolute certainty about human existence is change. Our journey through life is always about change. The same applies to our sport. To move forward we must learn to adapt to cope with changing situations, which means that the journey towards being a champion is about constant adaptation and updating. Whether it's different/unusual serves or receives, variation in spin, the early ball wide angle, the change in pace, fast and slow, short or long, the fast ball down the line to catch the opponent out, it's all about alternatives and change.

Equally it's about controlling your own destiny and not being a passive observer in what occurs. Change will often entail risk, which requires you to be calm and brave enough to take the steps which are needed. The top players always play the big points well and are capable of working out problems by themselves on court. These are also skills and attitudes you should foster with your young players. To identify the real issues/problems within your game and to be able to correct/improve these is indeed an art in itself.