Last year I was lucky enough to get to watch Sabine Lisicki play a against one of my players at the 2010 Bell Challenge in Quebec City, Canada. She was just coming back from a horrific ankle injury she had sustained on match point during her 2009 2nd round U.S. Open match against Radionova seen here....http://youtu.be/6lTX2frhoUc
The Bell Challenge was one of many tough tournaments during this come back period for Sabine. She struggled with every chapter of the match. The warm-up looked pained and tedious, she looked like a fish out of water. Her father, a balding, sort of gentle giant whom I believe is a doctor in Germany (don't quote me on that!) was sitting a few feet to my right. The anxiety that his daughter was feeling was apparent and his parental concerns written all over his face. After a short struggle Sabine was ousted in the first round by my student at the time Alexa Glatch 6-2, 6-4 and she bowed out with class. Her lack of confidence and match play had been obvious.
Sabine handled this rough patch in her career with class. She is a soft spoken, well mannered, hard working professional which is not as common as one would think. Each Player handles difficult times in their careers differently. Some throw tantrums and rackets, others look at it like a math problem and figure it out with hard work and hard hat mentallity.
Fast forward to this years Wimbledon where Sabine has now advanced to the second week of the third grand slam of the year, her best result in a major to date. It is refreshing to see a player who was struggling to find their game a little less than a year ago, experience their hard work paying off in a big way! There was no crystal ball for Sabine, there was no guarantee that if she worked hard she would see the results. But she had belief.....belief in the unknown. As Larry Bird said “I've got a theory that if you give 100 percent all of the time, somehow things will work out in the end.” Sabine Lisicki's eyes welled up with tears of joy after her win against Li Na in the second round of Wimby. Her hard work payed off! I am a fan of Sabine Lisicki........
By Steve Smith
One short answer would be juniors change so often because pros do. Juniors do copy pros.
A longer answer would be the role of the ‘buyer’, the ‘seller’ and the ‘taker’. The buyer is the parent(s). The ‘seller’ is the tennis coach. The ‘taker’ is the junior tennis player.
Yes, as always, there are exceptions to the rule but this is how the typical scenario plays out.
The buyer (parent) has no idea what they are buying. They are writing checks with little or no experience and little or no tennis knowledge. The buyer is an under-educated consumer.
The seller (coach) knows what they are selling and it is not tennis development. They are selling credibility and credibility is not product knowledge. Credibility means you are believable, not necessarily truthful. To be truthful as a tennis educator, one would need information.
Teaching is information transfer. Unlike the buyer (parent), the seller (coach) has experience. But the seller generally does not have an abundance of tennis knowledge. Actually, it is a tragedy how little product knowledge the seller usually has. The seller is a street entrepreneur. If the seller were selling cars, he could convince you that if you bought a car without tires you would save on air.
The taker (junior player) just takes. They take private lessons, groups, clinics, camps as well as one-on-one fitness sessions. The junior player, like the parent, has little or no experience and little or no tennis knowledge. Of course, the junior player, like the parent, gains experience the longer they are in tennis. But seldom do they truly gain tennis knowledge because the seller does not have it.
Note: If there were such a thing as product knowledge, the product, which in this case is tennis, would have to be produced. Players would have to have serves, volleys, specialty shots and the list goes on. Players would have complete games and be a ‘ finished player’; which used to mean that you can play all over the court and finish a point at the net.
Back to the buyer (parent). The parent is going down a path for the first time. Siblings are usually close enough in age that their tennis path with coaching is the same as their brothers and or sisters. The parent is going down a path that they have not been down before and with no directions. The parent usually can only rely on their opinion or the opinion of others, on how to evaluate a coach, but the method in most cases has little or no merit because their judgment is usually not based on fact. Coaches generally are 98% people skills and 2% product knowledge. The parent loves personality. The upbeat, cheerleading coach that is full of optimism, has pockets full of money.
"It's the best player in the world versus the best player of all time." This comment Rafa made about the Djoker/Federer semi-final speaks volumes about his personality and the respect he has for the game of tennis and the players in it.
After a hard fought battle this sunday, you had to admire how Fed handled the aftermath of a very frustrating day at the office. He congratulated Nadal in three languages with a genuine smile watching his friend hoist the first place trophy. The level of class these two competitors exude is an outstanding example for todays youth.
In an era of prima donna's and instant gratification somehow we ended up with two role models who exemplify what it takes to be a successful person in todays world. As Aristotle said, "We are what we repeatedly do. Therefore, excellence is not an act. It is a habit." We are all lucky to be part of the Fed/Nadal era!