| By Juan Oscar Rios

The reason why we are not producing more champions in America is due to our overall coaching philosophy and how parents are involved with junior tennis.

We see too many junior players with different coaches, or players moving from one program to another. Sometimes, we see players with three different coaches at the same time. They have one coach for private lessons, another for an academy program or group lessons, and yet another coach/parent who takes them to tournaments.

Another trend I see is parents trying to do the coaching and not allowing the coach to do their job. Parents, with very little experience in the game, are coaching and instructing their child, which interferes with the coaches, thus not allowing the student to build a solid relationship with their coach. In my opinion, having more than one coach at a time will create confusion and a lack of confidence in the student.

We have many talented coaches in this country with different teaching backgrounds and coaching philosophies. In order for the student to have consistency and confidence in their game and with their strokes, they need continuity and repetition with the same teaching method for several years. If students are moving from one program to another, they cannot build a relationship of trust with the coach and acquire consistency and confidence in the process. Confidence is vital to a successful tennis career!

If we look at other major sporting programs in the United States, sports like basketball, baseball and football for example, we will see that kids generally have just one coach during their high school years and one coach throughout their collegiate years. This gives the athlete an opportunity to build a long-term relationship of trust with their coach. This could also be why the United States has the best athletes in the world in those particular sports.

If we look at the sport of tennis, we realize that only when the player gets to college is when they begin to have a long-term relationship with one coach. By then, it may be too late and they cannot reach their highest potential because of not having the consistency of playing for just one coach at an early age.

As parents, we should not be so concerned with success at an early age, but providing our children with a long-term relationship of trust and confidence with only one coach. Our coaches should also focus on the future of the student and prepare them for college, and not be so worried about their own fame or making a business out of coaching.

If we work as a team, we will not only have better players, but in the end, have better people.