Updated: Apr 2, 2020
This is, it goes without saying, a challenging time for both us and our players. But while the world is in crisis, it’s important to practice what we preach: look for the positive, have a growth mindset, and keep fighting.
Our first priority should be to ensure that we don’t lose touch with our athletes. As they say, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. This is a perfect time to reach out to our players, make sure they’re doing ok, and show them that we’re thinking of them. Both players and parents will remember the gestures we make during this time.
It’s also a great time, if possible, to influence their mindset. Many of them are no doubt struggling, either with frustration and disappointment at not being able to be on court or with giving up in the face of adversity. In either case, let’s help them turn a negative into a positive. Many players around the world will fall into bad habits, which makes this a great opportunity to get ahead of the curve. Our players need to be reminded of this.
While this is our reality for the next few months, it will not be permanent, and we will all eventually be able to look back and reflect on how we reacted. Especially for a young player who has not been through as much, it is important to understand that this is temporary, and that they will one day look back and recall how they did or didn’t take advantage of this opportunity.
As with everyone, we at The Tennis Centre are working on ensuring our players can continue to develop tactically, mentally, and physically from home. With that in mind, I’ve developed an at-home workbook for tactics, which includes content on tactics, patterns, anticipation, and charting, as well as homework assignments. I’m more than happy to share it here. Note that some of the material is simplified, as it is directed at kids. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org. As I develop more content I will share it here. I've also begun regular Zoom sessions with the kids, both as a way to stay in touch but also as a way of going over the homework and reviewing video (see image below). I highly recommend it.
I would also encourage any players to continue to get “touches”, so long as they respect social distancing and government recommendations. This could be by hitting against a wall or exchanging volleys with a parent in their basement. If they have enough space, I would also recommend footwork and coordination exercises, a plethora of which can be found online.
Lastly: this is going to be a tough year for the vast majority of us. Even when life returns to normal, business may not. Not only are most coaches taking a hit financially, but there is also a mental health risk posed by the isolation that some are going through. Please reach out to the coaches in your wider circle and make sure they are doing ok.