Friday, October 26, 2012

Choosing the Right Clinic For Your Player

The facility is gorgeous, but does the junior program fit your needs?
Bless you HootSuite, Twitter, Google Alerts and all other such technology. Thanks to them I have found so many wonderful resources on the Internet. Today's gem is a great article at CAtennis on how to evaluate the various junior tennis group clinics available in your area. You can't tell a book by its cover!

The article lists 10 important features of a quality junior tennis program. I wholeheartedly agree with most and have made some of the same points in a couple of earlier blog entries here and here and oh yeah here. I only have two pickies, as we used to say in my writing critique group:

Point #2 of the 10 discusses the number of balls hit during the lesson. They suggest 250-300 balls struck per student as a rule of thumb. I think that's too many for very young players. I would argue 250-300 total balls struck during the class, not per player, is more realistic for players under 7. As the authors note in a different point, tennis instruction is no longer all about 60 minutes of dead ball feeds. Live ball drills and match play reduce the number of balls struck. Even though this is so, these types of activities are more beneficial to the players IMO.

Plus, how on earth can a parent tell how many balls are being struck? I have a second rule of thumb for you. Large ball carts can hold about 300 regulation size balls, so just see how many pickups are done during the lesson. Multiply by 300 and divide by number of students. If they are using the small hoppers, estimate 60 balls.

Point #10 stung a little bit. As a non-traditional instructor coming late to the party, I resent the comment that certifications are 'largely meaningless'. The implication is that any goofball can get certified. While I did not go through a junior development program, and the highest playing level I achieved is 4.0, when I did commit to teaching junior tennis, I went to the trouble and expense of doing it right. I received and maintain my certification. While neither USPTA or PTR is perfect, I think they are on the right track and have the correct goals at center: to provide quality tennis instruction. I would argue if the facility's staff cannot be bothered with becoming certified (said certification achievable by any goofball), one has to wonder why.

Anyway, as I said, I agree with 8 out of the 10 points so be sure to check out the entire article. Thanks CAtennis for a great read.