Bal Harbour Junior Continuous Improvement Process
Bal Harbour tennis academy has a unique and proven "Continuous Improvement Process."
The Junior development process consists of four significant areas or components of the game required to make a complete tennis player: Technical, Tactical, Physical, and Mental or Physiological.
They are all connected and interrelated, so if one component is weaker than the others, that component becomes the weakest link and makes the highest negative impact on the player's performance.
The player is as weak as the weakest component of his or her game.
Tennis is a very high-skill game. Like golf, playing tennis at any significant level can only be possible with sound technique and form.
The most important part of junior development is the technical part.
The saying, "You are out of business if you do not have the tools," applies to tennis, a very technical and highly skilled sport.
Young players and beginners must develop efficient form as a tool to play tennis.
At Bal Harbour Tennis Academy, efficient technique, form, and skill development are priorities. As the form is the foundation of any tennis player's development, developing techniques during the early stages of the developmental process is of essential importance.
National tennis associations from many countries and the USPTA (United States Professional Tennis Association) define four main stages of development. Those steps cover player development from young beginner juniors to the highest level of tennis (professional or collegiate).
Each development step has a suggested percentage of technical, tactical, physical, and mental components. (source, USPTA, and Spanish tennis association):
Development Step 1:
Age group 4-10 boys and girls
Development Step 2:
Age group: 10 - 13 girls & 10 - 14 boys
Development Step 3:
Age group: 13 - 17 girls & 14 - 18 boys
Development Step 4:
Age group 17 + girls & 18+ boys
While the percentage of each component might vary based on different factors, it is clear that the technical aspect is essential for all young juniors that join our academy. Our coaches have the highest training, education, and experience to teach the most efficient technique and form so that when our students reach 15-16 years of age, they will be fully prepared to compete on the highest level. By 16-17 years of age, technique and tennis skills must be well developed so players can focus on other components of their development.
The only way to maximize the benefits of Bal Harbour's "Continuous Improvement Process" is to participate in it actively.
The system consists of private lessons, academy group lessons (drilling), academy matches, and tournament play. All steps should be taken, with the guidance of Bal Harbour's coaching staff, to get the best result and achieve full potential - there are no shortcuts in the process.
The process starts with private lessons. These are tailored to individual needs and priorities and create an environment where the real learning happens.
Academy group lessons, first half
The skills and knowledge acquired in private lessons are applied in the first half of Bal Harbour academy group lessons. Players practice form and technique while working on different tactical elements of the game.
Academy group lessons, second half
During the second half of each session, players practice match play and situational match play, focusing on particular aspects of the game.
Bal Harbour organizes a limited number of UTR tournaments, but there are many tournaments in the area, the City of Houston, and the State of Texas.
The four segments of Bal Harbour's "Continuous Improvement Process" are interrelated. After each component, output, results, and ideas for continuous improvement are collected, and the analyzed information is used to design private lessons.
The circle of continuous improvement needs to be closed, and all four segments need to play into each other.
What to look for in a Coach and an Academy
Not all tennis coaches are created equal.
There are many tennis coaches to choose from but they’re not all the same. If you’re looking for a coach to help your child develop great skills, look for one who has a proven record of developing high level players. What does developing mean? A good coach is someone who has taken a complete beginner or recreational player and developed them (over many years) into a high level junior player or better.
Coaching takes time. It starts with the basics, proper grips, strokes and technique. Then it takes countless hours of repetitive drills and practice, match play and tournament play to create a quality and consistent game. Add in strategy and mental toughness, and you have the foundation for a high level player.
When you interview a coach, watch them. Do they just hit with your child, or do they have a lot to tell your child? Do they talk to you, the parent as well? Tell you what they are doing and why? If they have no answers or information to give you, keep looking. Ask questions and find out what they know. With any coach, you are not just paying for their time, but the information.
Junior tennis coaching has two primary components.
Those are the teaching component and training (drilling).
The teaching component of coaching is essential for coaching tennis form (technique) and tennis tactics, as well as the mental element of the game.
Training component is integral to coaching, but teaching is necessary before "training" happens.
When the coach primarily hits and plays with the players and feeds balls to a player, then he is doing training.
Training and drilling could be counterproductive if the coach doesn't teach proper form and technique before training.
Coaches that only or primarily hit with students are only "hitting partners." Training could improve students briefly without a coach performing comprehensive teaching, but eventually, a player would stop developing and start regressing. Training and drilling without teaching tennis reinforce inefficient technique, leading to the degression of the players' skills and ultimately worse outcomes.
Training without adequate teaching leads to high injury rates and a higher chance of students quitting the sport.
Teaching is a unique skill, requiring excellent knowledge of tennis skills, pedagogy, and psychology, and the teacher's high patience to reinforce the learning process to students.
At BHTA, our coaches have numerous students whom they have developed into high level players, including Division 1 college players, NCAA Champions, and ATP & WTA tour professionals. Please check out the Staff section for bios and more information.