There are lots of tennis success stories that tout lifelong dedication. The Andre Agassi and Williams sister stories are two of the most famous tales of childhood focus on the game and how it brought them to the top.
Of course there are tons of other current professionals who spent their whole lives working towards tennis stardom. However, considering the current state of American athletics, sports psychology, and how the two relate to one another, it seems that exposure to more than one sport at an early age is the way to go.
In looking at one making the decision to have their child focus on tennis before, say, middle school or a little earlier, there are risk factors to consider.
To put it simply, from my own experience, the phrase ‘too much of anything is too much’ can hold true for budding tennis players. Since the sport is so mental and trying on even the most fortuitous competitors, pushing a child to work too hard at an early age can turn them off from wanting to pursue the game.
Aside from that major mental consideration, there is also the risk of seeing a child physically burn out from too much tennis. The repetition of hitting thousands of balls a week has its benefits, but it can do more harm than good on the joints too. If a child wants to play a ton of tennis, then that’s okay; just make sure it’s their decision to do so, as well as not too taxing on their body.
At a certain point in adolescence, having a sport to focus on is definitely good. It’s likely a move from a multi-sport lifestyle to one that sets aside recreation time to a single competition will improve focus and other dedicative qualities to translate to other areas of life. For early childhood, though, exposure to multiple sports is the way to go.
As children get older and become adolescents and young adults, harvesting their own appreciation for something—rather than having it pushed onto them—will make for a more genuine pursuit of passions. This is something most parents probably want for their kids, and not being too forceful can help achieve it.