The design and implementation of an elite training system for tennis
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The purpose of this study was to design a framework for a tennis training system that can be used to develop young tennis players into elite, world-class professionals. An elite tennis player is defined as someone who ultimately attains a top 200 professional ranking on either the men's ATP Tour or the women's WTA Tour. This system is meant to be utilized by training institutions as a whole, as well as individual players and their coaches. The methodology involved a literature review of research in youth talent development and talent detection, with emphasis on the works of Bloom (1985) and Ericsson (1990, 1993, 1994, 1996). Interviews were also conducted with prominent independent tennis coaches like Nick Bollettieri and Robert Lansdorp, as well as with a private coach from Estonia, and coaches from the tennis federation's of France and the Czech Republic. The results found that tennis development should begin between the ages of six to eight. In the early stages of development it was found that fun, stroke technique, and learning how to play matches should be emphasized. Sport specialization should not occur before age 13 or 14. In order to attain expert performance players should amass 10 years and 10,000 hours of directed deliberate practice. Although researchers theorized that players do not benefit from practices lasting longer than four hours, coaches interviewed believe that it is essential to practice for five to six hours between the ages of 16-18 when the player is transitioning from junior tennis to professional tennis. A nurturing relationship with a coach and supportive, yet moderately involved parents, are also key elements to this development program. Most importantly, players must develop and maintain a love for tennis if they are to attain expert status.
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