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Tennis Coach's Corner

Tennis Tip

Presented by Mike Gardner, Camp Director
Nike Tennis Camp (Amherst) at Mount Holyoke College - All Skills Program

Tennis Tip: Mike Gardner's Keys to Developing Junior Tennis Players

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I often get asked what is the key to developing junior tennis players to their optimum potential…

  1. Is there a secret or are there tricks you use to get to the level of performance you have experienced?
  2. What level of commitment is required for a child to become a good competitive player?
  3. What is a good age to start a tennis player on a competitive path?

There are short cuts that a quality coach learns through years of direct one on one experience. Much has been published and shown on social media sites, but at

Nike Tennis Camp, we follow a specific path of great fundamentals that include excellence in balance, stroke production, preparation, and conditioning. A key to great stoke production or fundamentals in any sport is balance. If a player is “off balance” and tries to hit a moving object while running, they will find themselves hitting off center, with little or no consistency while never reaching their power potential.

Once good balance is established, the instructor or “technician” must train the student in consistent quality stroke guidelines that will encourage “muscle memory”.

When and only when balance and good stroke production is established, a player can expect to prepare for a fast, incoming ball to hit successfully. If all of the above is accomplished, the final phase to getting a student on a path of success at a competitive level, fitness and conditioning should be introduced.

To reach a competitive level of success in any undertaking, a specific level of commitment is always required. A lot of the time, we mistake an achieved player as “talented” or “gifted” whereas when we dig deeper, we find that hard work and dedication were the driving factors in their progress or success.

Very often, I see very young, skilled children who have been led into tennis by parents at an early age, say 4-5 years old. Although I believe it isn’t a bad idea to develop “hand to eye” coordination and balance, too much emphasis on a specific sport, especially an individual sport like tennis can really be counterproductive. In my experience, children that play in other movement sports who get into tennis at a later age, say 8 years old, tend to do as well if not better than the younger ones. I’ve had players begin their tennis as late as 12-13 years old who have earned Division 1 scholarships!

If you have any questions regarding our RESIDENT or DAY program, feel free to contact me at [email protected] or by calling my cell phone at (978) 618-9254.

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About US Sports Camps

US Sports Camps (USSC), headquartered in San Rafael, California, is America's largest sports camp network and the licensed operator of Nike Sports Camps. The company has offered summer camps since 1975 with the same mission that defines it today: to shape a lifelong enjoyment of athletics through high quality sports education and skill enhancement.

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