Robby Menard: Building Confidence in Athletes and – YES – in Children

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***Robby Menard who has a Bachelor of Physical Education (Science) and Specialization Tennis Fitness, is Tennis Canada Level 4 coach and Club Pro 2.

Robby is the cofounder and head coach of the Académie Ménard Girardin (A.M.G.) Montréal. Coach of the year in Québec 1993, 2005, 2007 and Tennis Canada Excellence Award holder 1994-96, 2005, 2009-2010, he has been an influential leader in the last 15 years in the Québec Tennis Federation commission of coaches, and has been involved with many professional ranked players such as Simon Larose 188 ATP and Stephanie Dubois 98 WTA. Cristina Popescu top 5 ITF ranked player.***

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I just came back from 2 National events:  the U14 in Vancouver and the U16 in Quebec.

Both events are important for the sports of tennis in Canada because they showcase our best players. Some of these players are trained by yours truly (13 spots came from our Academy at the 2 events), some by other Canadian academies and clubs, some by Florida’s academies, some by Tennis Canada and also parents/coaches. Basically, it is a great melting pot .

There is a feeling… I say feeling because I can FEEL that the kids are NOT as good as they should be .

Well, let’s just share some facts:  Rebecca Marino and Milos Raonic have not ever won the U14 Nationals. Milos also never won the U16 Nationals.

I have seen them play at either the 14 or 16 , and I can assure you that Rebacca’s backhand was not “GREAT” and Milos’ footwork was “very ordinary”.

You all see where I am going…. FOR SURE, they both serve great and were gusty, maybe too much, in their shots selections .

They had strength and they were willing to work on the weaker part of their game.

Hopefully, nobody with “MORAL AUTHORITY” told them that they were NOT VERY good tennis players.

In all good books that talk about building confidence in children or adolescents, all of them talk about having a positive approach, setting realistic goals and being loved.

In NO WAY does this conflict with having high standards, I want to be clear on this: when someone has strong beliefs in a positive approach to develop high performance athletes, THIS DOES NOT mean that the standards are lower… It is just a healthier approach.

I meet people constantly – parents, coaches and athletes – and they often ask me about a specific player… And I answer that what I see is POTENTIAL.

Now not all kids HAVE the talent to serve like MILOS, run like Stephanie Dubois, have returns like Alek Wozniak, volley like Frank Dancevic, hit forehands like Peter Polansky, compete like Andrew Sznajder or play doubles like Daniel Nestor.

BUT as a country, we did see these kids grow up , and this should keep the faith that we can see these unbelievable world class skills be developed BY US… Canada.

A deeper dive into second serve statistics

The two most widely reported second serve statistics in professional tennis are the number of double faults a player hit, and their second serve winning percentage. If we’re trying to understand the effectiveness of a particular player’s second serve, relying only on those statistics has significant drawbacks. Article by Michal Kokta.

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