Extinction / Evolution of tennis

MODERN ERA OF YOUTH TENNIS DEVELOPMENT

MODERN SOCIAL / ECONOMICAL / ENVIRONMENTAL INFLUENCES ON COMPETITIVE TENNIS IN WESTERN WORLD

Countries with high quality of life are facing crisis in competitive tennis. This is a fact and I can prove it to everyone. Why is the percentage of recreational players rising and percentage of competitive players shrinking? Why are the young players in these countries not so successful? USTA is criticized by many for not doing a good job, Australia has all it takes, but there are not enough players breaking through international scene, London’s LTA is trying to solve this problem for some time investing huge money and is not so successful, Canada seems to be successful so far in its fight, wealthy parts of Germany do not even realize how far in trouble they are, and there are more. Let’s read some important information, before we get to the point. It is always good to see the whole picture first. Watching others, family, friends and role models on a daily basis, and learning from their behavior and experiences affects the way player performs, thinks, and behaves. This learning of accepted behaviors, values, rights and wrongs is known as socialization. Family and especially parents play a huge part in tennis players’ development. Parents can and should be a helpful coach, but can and very often do destroy the career of their children-player. Since tennis parents have it all in their hands, every decision they make is so crucial for the future of their child. Second biggest factor influencing players’ growth is his/her love partner / partners, husband or wife. Friends and other family members are also to be considered if it comes to minor distractions. Popularity and successes of sport and specifically tennis in my club, city, or at national level should be considered as environmental influence affecting not only me, but also all the other players in given city, region or country. Number of tennis clubs, tennis academies, and tennis players in my home city and region influences the popularity and brings needed competition. Popularity, growth of tennis and successes of teams and individuals on the top international scene (Davis Cup, Fed Cup, Olympics, ATP, WTA, ITF) are as well crucial to the development of young players.

INTENSITY

• How many tennis clubs were / are in my city and near region?

• What sports are most popular in my city, region or country? Kids usually want to do what is popular.

COMPETITIVENESS

• How many players are involved in tennis?

• What is the level of players involved in tennis? LTA in UK is proudly presenting growing numbers of players and coaches involved in tennis. Millions of Pounds were invested into famous foreign coaches, but there are still no visible results on the competitive level. There are few good players ranked lower in WTA and ATP, which would most probably make it where they are anyways.

POPULARITY

• How popular is tennis in my city, region and country?

• How many top players from my country are ranked TOP 100 and 200 ATP / WTA / ITF?

• What is the history of sport and tennis particular in this country? As an example we can look at players in Quatar and Dubai…great facilities, investments in foreign coaches and high expectations DO NOT MAKE CHAMPIONS. Australia is a country with many great tennis memories and victories, with a grand slam tournament. But with retirement of Pat Rafter, Leyton Hewitt and few other top doubles players came also the retirement of Australian tennis on the international scale. Yes, there are few players here and there such as talented Tomic and Kyrgios, but they are mostly immigrants or with foreign blood. The arrogant behavior came from avalanche money Assie federation was / is pouring on them, traveling with 3-4 coaches, sponsors hoping for next Hewitt. So, if you are a super talented youth player and you want some sun, ask them to give you citizenship, because they will do it if you can hit the ball well. Again, Australia has one of the best lifestyles in the world.

QUALITY

• How many quality coaches are involved in growth of tennis in my city and country?

• How well organized is National Tennis Federation in my country with its regional brunches?

• How well is this national Federation recognizing and supporting its top players, running talent seeking programs and supporting talented individuals? Here I would again compare few countries we have seen the coaching education in action as well as accreditations the federations are giving. In parts of UK, New Zealand, Germany coaches working with hundreds of young players were not aware of the proper grips, stroke styles, and did not know why they are using the drills they do on every day’s basis. Therefore they are not as affective and these tennis clubs and academies grow players with very low quality and skills. Sweden, Slovakia or Czech Republic have had a great history of success on the highest level in tennis. Although Sweden is in bigger trouble then it has ever been regarding competitive tennis. Did the modern high standard of living started affecting development of young athletes in this country? Maybe.

So, would you believe, that all the above mentioned important social / environmental factors are not the ones that worry me the most? There are countries where 50% out of all children involved in tennis training can hit 20 balls over the net in one rally, 20% can hit even 50 balls, and 10% are strong competitors. There are also countries where 80% of all kids involved in tennis have problems running without losing balance and are happy to keep a rally with 3-10 balls. Please compare and comment only if you were involved or worked with higher number of beginners to advanced players in more countries both very comfortable and less comfortable lifestyle. Which country has a bigger chance of developing healthy competition which eventually brings few top players?

Let me introduce to you two boys, one is John (11) from HIGHER LIFE STYLE world and other one is Adam (11) from LOWER LIFE STYLE world. Now don’t get me wrong, this problem is not about money, race, or nationality, because in tennis it doesn’t matter if the kid is from Germany, Slovakia, USA, Russia, China, or Serbia. Any parent involved in competitive tennis needs to have certain financial strength to support their children’s expensive development. Lets get back to the kids. So John is driven to school and picked up from school every day by his mother. The house is about 1.5km away from their house, there are buses and it would take him about 15 minutes to walk home. His mother drives him also to and from tennis training 4 times per week. Adam on the other hand lives about 7km away from his school and uses bus to get there. Adam loves to ride his bicycle to the tennis training and in the winter comes by bus or sometimes his dad drives him. THEY BOTH LEARN TO DEAL WITH LITTLE SITUATIONS AND OVERCOME THE OBSTACLES WITHOUT EVEN KNOWING ABOUT IT. John is quite busy with other afternoon activities besides his school, such as music school, cricket training, and horse riding. Those are a must since most of his friends are also involved in those or similar activities and it is a standard to keep. Adam, plays tennis with coach only 2 times per week, but spends a lot of time in the club and arranges his friends to hit with him. He actually plays tennis more hours than John and when he comes home, he drops his stuff and runs to play soccer with his friends near his house. John is proud of his 20+ trophies collection in his room. He got half of them just for attending tournaments which his national association organizes to motivate the players to be involved in sport, some for school activities, and few for reaching semifinals at local tournaments. Adam on other hand has only 3 trophies above his bed, one for regionals finals in singles, one for winning doubles, and one for being singles semifinalist at nationals. John simply lives and eats well, has comfortable and less stressful life. HE GETS VERBALLY OR MATERIALLY AWARDED FOR EVEN SLIGHT SUCCESS OR EFFORT. TEACHERS AND COACHES IN HIS COUNTRY HAVE TO BE SO POLITICALLY CORRECT AND CAN’T EVEN TOUCH, PUNISH OR SPEAK LOUDLY TO THE STUDENTS. IN MANY YOUTH SPORTS THEY ARE NOT ALLOWED TO KEEP SCORE AFTER THE MATCH. John and his friends are for some reason getting sick a bit more often than Adam and his friends, which have more stress situations to solve, are often riding bicycle and eating a bit less expensive food. John doesn’t feel responsibility for his actions. HIS MOTIVATION AND RIVALRY TO SUCCESS ARE KILLED BY STANDARDS, RULES, AND COMFORT OF HIS LIFE STYLE. In fact, he doesn’t need to take actions to overtake obstacles or to be successful. He thinks he is successful, everybody tells him “well done”, “good job”, so he is not even able to accept criticism or hear comments such as “not good enough”, “no!”, “come on!”. After those he usually starts crying or gets angry and talk to his parents to change sport or coach. John’s father doesn’t come to school very often, but when he comes he might be accompanied by his lawyer trying to blame and threaten teachers for mistakes they make. This parent does not accept the fact, that his son can make mistakes, might be a trouble maker and therefore deserves to be punished, get bad grade, and recognize his responsibility for all the mistakes he makes. John’s mother sees how her husband solves the problems and she feels the power to do the same on the tennis court. She expects, that the tennis coach and everyone she pays to make miracles with her son. She expect the coach to solve all the issues John is presenting on the tennis court in just one hour. These issues are thou what John’s parents create every day for many years. Adam on the other hand is well aware of his actions, because he needs to solve his problems. He is also trying to find the easiest way out of trouble, but what is important is, that his parents will not always back him up, when they see he was involved in something not appropriate. Adam’s parents try to stay objective even thou it’s their lovely son. Adam is also more independent and appreciates the effort, time and money his parents or coach invest into him. It is very possible to expect John to tell you, that his parents are paying you for the training and therefore you can’t kick him out of the training when he misbehaves. The elementary and high school system in John’s country is just too soft and easy in compare with for example in Adam’s country. So what is this story about? Well, did you hear about EVOLUTION of intelligent animals? They had to solve everyday problems in groups and in complicated situations. Some of them were very simple species at the beginning, but just a change of the environment or climate forced them to find solutions to survive, find food, or simply ways to fight for their life. COMFORTABLE AND SIMPLE LIFE FULL OF SECURITY DESTROYS OUR INTELIGENCE, CREATIVITY, PROBLEM SOLVING, LOWERS THE IMMUNE SYSTEM, MAKES US FATTER AND LESS SKILLFUL. Kids involved in tennis in countries with high living standards are generally lazier, have lower self-discipline to work hard, are less adaptable to changes, are saucier, are less physically fit, and have lower immunity. We are talking in general since most of the behavior is also affected by parents, rules in the household, and genetics, there are also individuals with great mental and / physical attributes. Parts of UK, Australia, Austria, USA, Germany, New Zealand, which are all great countries to live at, but have something in common besides high living standard and good lifestyle.

So, why extinction? Well, have you ever heart of Extinction pyramid process in every civilization? Great Roman Empire, Greek civilizations, and other great civilizations such as Easter Islands where people had everything they wished for. Make some research about what is the most common cause? It is the living standard, comfortable life, where people do not wish to work much but want to earn more, hard work is considered to be silly, people spend more money and time on fun, pleasure, and recreation activities, rather than on education and sport. There was a point, where food and natural resources came to the end, than conflicts started to happen even between own people until there was nothing to fight for. Is this related to the topic of social / environmental influences on tennis players?