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Growing a Champion

At any given time at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy we have students attending from over 72 different countries from socioeconomic groups that range from those on full scholarship to those of incredible wealth. As diverse as the group is there are certain key traits we look for in indentifying future champions.

After 50 plus years of coaching I can say with confidence that I have seen and worked with just about every makeup of player at one time or another. With few exceptions, I have found the following to be true:

  • Motivation is a by-product of genuine hunger.

  • Parents have the distinct ability to sabotage their children's chances of achieving their highest level of performance (and, often do).

  • Champions are born, not made.

Let me break these down a little bit further...

People often bring their 10, 11, 12 year olds to me and request that I "motivate" them. Usually when this happens, I have a child standing in front of me that either (a) doesn't really want to play tennis, (b) doesn't have the natural talent it will take, (c) doesn't have the heart of a Champion, or (d) all of the above.

So, the question then becomes "what can I do for this child?". At best, I can build up their level of confidence - which may or may not result in a more motivated child. The worst-case scenario (for the parent anyway) is when I am completely honest with them about their child's slim chances of becoming a "successful" professional player.

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