| By Eric Faro

An extremely common question that the parents of our tennis academy students ask our coaches around this time every year is, “How can our children improve their game this summer?” They want to know if it beneficial to send their child to a tennis camp in Florida, California, Maine or Europe. There are so many camps and different options available to everyone, and it can be very confusing to parents and students. Our students have gone to different camps to train and we have always gotten mixed reviews.

The biggest issue with sending players away from home is that tennis camps can sometimes seem like a factory. There are so many kids coming in and out of these various camps. The question is, do they really give individual attention to the students? Do they really understand what your child’s needs are? It seems as though many of these camps can be very generic in nature. Yes, we as coaches have all called these various camps to talk to the directors about our students and what needs to be worked on. The million-dollar question is, “How do we actually know what’s going on?”

After many years spent as a tennis coach, I’ve come to the conclusion that the best thing for a player’s development is to spend a significant chunk of time at home to train with a coach or a team of coaches who already know the player and their individual needs. The summertime is a huge part of a child’s development, no matter what age or level of play. It is a time to focus on their game without having to worry about the pressures of school, homework and tests.

This is a critical time where coaches can go beyond technical development. It is a time to ramp up focus on on-court situations, strategies and tactics, as well as off-the-court fitness, and building up mental toughness. Summer is an ideal time for coaches to bond with their students off the court as well, and develop a deeper student-coach relationship. In my experience, the process of pushing oneself to attain new heights as an athlete occurs first and foremost through hard work. Having a coach who understands a student and knows exactly which buttons to push is critical in getting the most out of a player and providing motivation to reach full potential.