Talent identification is a key component to any sports success.In New Zealand on the tennis side this area has not yet been truly explored, but i am sure there are plans ahead for a National Talent identification program.Participation of youngsters in any New Zealand sporting code is often determined by tradition eg rugby , netball,ideals,desire to take part in a sport by its popularity,parental pressure,schools speciality often driven by a teachers preference and their own sporting background and of course proximity of sports facilities especially in major city's.For Coaches and elite national programs hoping that individuals have chosen the correct sport in any code let alone tennis is simply not good enough.
Sporting codes in various country's have developed specific methods to identify talented individuals.Whilst the world is focusing on Beijing and China this is an example of a country with different talent identification and implementation compared to western country's such as New Zealand.Its important to note in China's case that two very important factors are keys to their sucess.1.Its backed and totally funded by the Government. 2. And access to the worlds largest population.They have established 1,782 sports schools catering for 185,000 athletes.Their projection that 10% of these athletes will ascend to elite level.The success of this can be seen over the next two weeks.
This story gives an example of what is happening in china "A Chinese table tennis star tells when she was 7 scouts came to her school and had all the children try to throw 3 balls in a bucket 10 feet away.All kids that got the three balls in the bucket where whisked away for three hours training a day.This player turned pro at 11 years of age by that time she was training 8 hours a day".
Here in New Zealand the success of an athlete will be determined by their junior development program with factors such as where one lives,socio-economic status,training facilities,coaching and competition exposure are all key components for the "big picture" of becoming an elite junior tennis player.
This is Part 1 as I explore several factors on making an elite junior tennis player in a local environment