Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

In part 1 we did write about the story of early development. Those of you who missed it, please do take out 5 mins (reading time just over 5 mins) and read it by clicking here.

Now to the story of late development is ready.

Here we go – The story of late development is synonymous with patience. This path of development carves itself out in a different manner than the path of early development.

Imagine this –
U10->U12>U14->U16/ITF->U-18/ITF===> World of Pro tennis/World of College Tennis/World of Tennis
It is a long journey but not a reversible one. We should try and make this journey debt free. What does this mean?
Serious tennis talent development works start from U-10 onwards. For instance, by the time your child reaches U-12, the basic expectations are coordination development to be on the right track, some focus on speed and adequate focus of technique. All of the above needs a planned effort. As parents, our duty remains to give our child the right environment and to make sure we don’t push them during U10->U12 stages. For example – During under U10->U12 stages when a child grows spending time in developing coordination, it is loads of fun as coordination drills are at times off court drills and they are fun at that age. For kids, it is like a fun sport!
How will we as parents make sure that this happens? One choice we have presently is to ask the right questions rather than surrendering. Maybe go an extra mile. What is that extra mile? More on that later, it will need another post.

Moving on – Research has shown that it does not make a lot of sense to push a child under U-10->U12 journey. If you don’t push you are producing precious time for the right kind of development. Rankings and points will not remain forever. A good game will. Since late development advocates that we should not push a child early on (and hence the name late development), you will find these children to be low in rankings during their U10->U12 journey. That is perfectly normal.
However, this brings us to the most critical point. As a parent, we must understand that the time we create by not pushing our child needs to go towards child’s development with planning to achieve something when they are 14-15-16 years of age category. But do we have that kind of system around us which can deliver this expectation? Do you as a parent aware enough to understand what this means? How is it even possible for a non-tennis playing parent and TV tennis fans (most of us are guilty of that) to even know what is right and what is wrong? We need a subject matter expert to answer that. Isn’t it? One way to figure out what type of tennis development environment you are in is to talk to your team directly and understand their long-term talent development approach, not short term. That will give you some definite hints.

Moving Further on – A tennis debt is challenging to pay. Like any other debt, it needs to be paid back with interest. Here are some examples of interest part.
Fast forward few years and your child is now U14->U16 range and still struggling with their first serves. You don’t have to go further to any other stroke or skill. Serve is the ultimate test of your child’s development path as it is the most complex stroke to master.
Now correcting a serve will need quality work & time. But how do you even know that your child’s first serve is not up to the mark even after training for 3-4 years? Well, that is where you as a parent need to find a way.

In the world of international tennis where the ecosystem is different from what we have, our kids face mighty competition. Kids from EU, US, AUS, SA and such regions mostly come out of slow development approach and are overall superior players. At this stage, these kids from these regions are still developing their game. They reach their peak performance by improving and developing their game which is at a much higher level than the group of kids who underwent the path of fast and early development.Since the slow and late development slowly but surely covers all the areas related to tennis development their peak is much different than kids who went through early/fast development. Please note that at a certain level of tennis (slow development at U16->U18) it is seen that the time goes in building variety, dealing with complex situations &  conventional match play situations only. This only happens when our child is not busy paying tennis debt like fixing a serve at this stage. We see kids evolve as being mentally stronger in this category (U16->U18 late development). Mental strength is directly proportional to the years of a late/slow development approach that eventually takes them to their peak an gives them enough confidence to keep going.

Concluding remarks-
As a parent, it is a reality checkpoint & it is a tough one for most of us primarily for those parents who want to do it. We can suggest the following examination to understand where your child development has reached so far.

1) Your child plays 100s of matches and gets a good rank.
The child is principally in early/fast development mode. Most of the tennis technical skills are not as developed as they should have been at this stage. Sign – debt is on the rise.
Suggestion – Plan to take a break. Get your child tennis skills evaluated to be sure about where they have reached in their journey and what needs to be done next. Sooner the better. Find out ways of tennis skill evaluation from subject matter experts.
2) Your child plays 100s of matches still does not get a good rank.
The child is again in early/fast development mode but lacks the natural ability to mostly play defensive tennis of keeping the ball in with simple strokes. Makes a lot of unforced errors and maybe has anger, emotional and temperament challenges. However, these attributes are noticed in some children.
Suggestion – don’t get disappointed by low ranks but again take a break from too many tournaments. Get your child tennis skills evaluated to be sure and wait for the child to grow. Age too will help in overcoming anger, emotional and temperament challenges and related issues if any. There are advanced ways of dealing with these issues too.
3) Your child plays few matches and gets a decent ranking.
Also, check – If your child has a decent technique/tactics for their age. What about motor skills? Get that checked too. If you are in this zone, you are doing okay. Keep going. Overall debt is less, and this is good news as there won’t be much interest that this category of child will have to pay while growing up. This is what helps to improve at a higher level as time does not go in paying back the interest.
4) Your child plays few matches and does not have a decent ranking.
Evaluate your child’s game (technical and tactical) and try to understand the reason behind low ranks. Work on motivating the child and see if they really like playing the sport at a competitive level as much as you want them to.

Note: TuPA works in the zone of evaluating your child’s present tennis debt.  Furthermore, TuPA can assist you to plan further from where you have reached as a tennis parent so far.

Good luck!