loris bertolacci

Sport, Health and Fitness

Australian Tennis. What is the problem?

I have had a reasonable insight into tennis since about 1990 given then I had an association with Michael Baroch who is a well known coach. I assisted quite a few of his juniors for a few years and in the past 2 years have again had some gigs with some junior players with their fitness programs. I also worked with Ann Quinn at Essendon Football Club and again this provided me with some insight into the sport.

Many reasons come flying around this time when we seem to have less and less ranked players. Yet at the Olympics we seem to do well in some sports. Without going into it too much they are usually sports that have really benefitted from the Institute set ups and sports science back up.

We do not seem to have had too much success in sports that require high level eccentric conditioning at the Games. That is a topic for another post but relevant to tennis.

The obvious hypothesis re tennis is that the rest of the world simply started playing tennis from the 60’s and 70’s. Yet John Alexander says we do not have courts in OZ, all I see close to home is courts and coaches. Cannot buy that argument. Too simplistic.

We also have a traditon from the good old days here, and that seems to still have an influence. I remember in AFL it took till the late 90’s for the coaches of the old VFL to embrace professionalism. Even then it was a struggle.

European nations seem to have simply evolved their tennis in line with elite sports principles rather than what the “old pros” did in the past. In Australia there a lots of kids hitting massive amounts of balls. In fact some give up footy and soccer and netball in pursuit of tennis dreams at early ages and thus are denied the mutlilateral base these kids need. Same problem is OZ exists with Little Aths which is a healthy pursuit but a waste of time asĀ  nursery for track and field.

It seems to me that coaches really make their money with kids yet when it gets to 15 to 20 the clubs do not have any resourcesĀ  to create pro environmnts in OZ. There is a massive gap after puberty for players that only the institutes can fill, but too few kids get there and are they the right kids?. Talent ID is really difficult in a sport where the averega age for men in the top 100 is over 25 and for women over 24. It takes time to produce players. Youth policies take time. The AFL is a bad example with the under 18 system because it is a closed National system and who gets picked plays. No one from Ecuador to beat.

Sports Science to me has not been embraced as much in OZ with tennis. That is a pity given the resources we have.

Simply some thought has to be put into creating a large base of kids after puberty and then supporting them till 16 to 20 in some system that allows them to improve. The superstar will come through but that is one player every 10 years.

Coaches must work hand in glove with sports science and fitness and not run amok with massive loads on young underdeveloped kids. Some of these kids are so scrawny.

Power and speed must be prioritized as must be technique and fine tuning, versus running around the TAN.

To say we dont have players is odd to me when so many coaches make a living coaching little kids. So what happns to these kids when the parents no longer can afford to pay for lessons at 13? And it may take a player till 20 to break into he top 250 and till 22 to brea into the top 100. That;s ok and normal in tennis.

So giving some juniors some wildcards will not solve a thing.

Interestng eh!

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January 17, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment