We have been slowly but consistently expanding our offer of junior development / performance sessions over the past 2 seasons. This has been an intentional shift in our program and is in response to the growing demand for such sessions both within our program and from new players. As our player base has become more experienced we have found a greater need for more ‘serious’ tennis training sessions and as we have begun offering these on an invitation basis we have also found that there is a broader demand for such sessions across South West London. This has led to many new players joining our Performance Academy over the last season which has created a stronger playing pool. In 2016 we will be consolidating these sessions while looking to offer 4 further Green / Yellow squad sessions – 2 at Barn Elms and possibly 2 at a location in the Wandsworth / Southfields area (more on this soon!) With most sessions running for 2hrs each this will bring our total to 24 hours of performance sessions running per week.
Our aim is to help players develop to their potential. Currently the level we best cater for is competitive juniors capable of playing inter club tennis in the LTA County competitions. Over the next year we will also be looking to expand the competition aspect of our Performance Academy both during the squad sessions themselves and through stand alone teams events and tournaments. A good example of ‘in session’ competition already occurs during the excellent Barn Elms Saturday morning yellow ball squad – this group undertakes intensive training drills for their first hour and then play individual matches in a competitive round robin in hour number 2.
The 3 key ingredients for successful performance squads
1. Our commitment to prioritise access to a large number of courts for junior players. Unfortunately at many clubs and parks in inner city London, court space is not available for junior players of a competitive standard. As a result most activities and drills end up consisting of long lines of players all waiting to hit two or three shots before promptly being sent to the back of the queue. In all of our LTT Performance Academy sessions we try our best to have four players per court, meaning each player is able to dedicate the maximum amount of time to purposeful practice during each squad session.
2. Creating a culture for each squad with an effective cooperative team environment while at the same time challenging each player to take responsibility for their own individual learning and development. Achieving this balance is essential due to the co-operative structure of our performance squad sessions, which rely heavily on hitting and live ball competition drills. By continuously ensuring each player puts in their best effort individually, the group as a whole benefits through continuously pushing up the standards for each squad.
3. Players having a genuine individual desire to improve their technique and a love for competition and matchplay. Our team of coaches strive to instil this desire, however ultimately this is dependant on the players own attitude toward embracing the learning process and becoming accountable for their own progress in the sport.
These are certainly not the stereotypical after school or weekend babysitting tennis sessions that you may have encountered elsewhere but for juniors with the right motivation and a healthy love of the sport they are incredibly rewarding.
If you have a child interested in taking a play test with us to trial for one of these squads then please get in touch with Luis Perez our head coach and he can help organise this for you firstname.lastname@example.org