Friday, August 27, 2010

A level playing field - New Rule changes for 10 and under tennis.

The International Tennis Federation today approved an amendment to the Rules of Tennis for 10-and-under competition. The change, approved overwhelmingly by the ITF Annual General Meeting, is designed to make tennis easier and more fun for children and to ensure that competition is appropriate for those 10 and under.

The rule will go into effect in January 2012 and will mandate modified courts that are smaller in size than the 78-foot courts currently used for tournament play. It will also mandate low compression tennis balls that move slower through the air and bounce lower and are thus better suited to the size and abilities of younger children. 

"This is a great step forward for tennis, and I thank the ITF AGM for their support of this important initiative," says ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti. "Tennis 10s will improve the way we introduce tennis to young players."

I believe we have a place for the above concept, however if this is brought into sanctioned 10 and under events at tournaments I believe this is a step backward not forward in making world class tennis players.Can you imagine a young Rafa or a young Andy Murray at 10 playing with a low compression ball on a shorter court......not on your life. I have had a lot of success with 10s and produced players that are very competent on a full size tennis court playing with real tennis balls, what happens now? tell them they must take a step back ....or what most will do leave their age group to an older age group playing real tennis. What effects does that have socially mixing and competing against older age groups? As I said this is a great concept for juniors just starting competition ...and it has a place for those juniors that are not adept to a full court, however those that can play "real" tennis should not be categorized nor expected to play on a shorter court with low compression balls.So coaches you will have to have another basket of low compression balls and change your way of teaching to a certain extent, have you ever used a low compression ball on a windy day?

Whilst on the topic of a level playing field I pose this question How many coaches ask their students after a match how did you go win or lose? or do most coaches just ask how did you play and not really care on the outcome? For those that ask the later you have to question what is that telling you really from the student .An experienced coach will ask both questions because they will be taking into account variables such as  DID YOU PLAY UP AN AGE GROUP, YOU BEAT THAT SAME OPPONENT LAST WEEK BUT LOST THIS WEEK,STARTED USING A NEW RACQUET ,I CHANGED YOUR SERVICE GRIP BEFORE THE TOURNAMENT......and so on,so many variables you have to factor in when considering a win or a loss.To just ask how did you play tells me that coach has never ever played a decent level of tennis and does not want to deal with losses.Its great to keep kids positive but as we know losing matches is the best way to learn, and if the coach does not know if you have won or lost then its time to change coaches.

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