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Specialists vs. Generalists

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Today’s Guest Post is written by Ryan Segelke of High-Altitude Tennis. Enjoy!

Throughout my training career, I have been very lucky to have the opportunity to work with many ambitious athletes that have gone on to achieve great things in their sport, not to mention their professional lives after they “retire.”  I periodically look back on some athletes that I knew, but did not have the opportunity to work with.  Some in particular, could have achieved more (at least in the athletic arena), but were hindered by a couple main things: lack of love for the game, or perhaps their program hindered their potential.

Does this mean I know everything and they would have been able to turn professional if they worked with me?  Certainly not.  But I cannot help to periodically think about these athletes that did not seem to reach their full potential and wonder “what if?”  Below is just one of my recommendations on how to allow your child to maximize their athletic potential:

Work With A Specialist

By working with a specialist, I mean find a complete program that has everything your child will need to have the best chance to achieve their athletic goals – and whose sole focus is just that.  If you program is not complete or is focused on many different things other than your child’s development, and you have to outsource aspects such as a fitness trainer, sports psychologist or nutritionist, make sure you do your do diligence and ensure they are a specialist in their field.

Far too often, I have seen families settle for a generalist rather than seeking out and working with a specialist.  At least in the fitness training realm, a generalist will typically work at a club and work with anyone that will pay them for their services.  They could train a 60 year old man with the goal of stress relief at 4 pm, a 45 year old woman that wants to lose 30 pounds at 5 pm, and then your child for tennis at 6 pm.  Does this make sense?  Is this trainer really specializing and devoting all of their time to developing the best tennis players?  Or are they just taking on any person that will pay them, regardless of that person’s goals?

When searching for a fitness trainer for your child’s tennis, I would suggest asking these questions (and similar ones) to ensure you are picking the best:

  • How long have they focused on training tennis players only?
  • What sort of education do they have? Do they have any tennis specific training education?
  • What are some of their results? Can they furnish exact results of what they have helped the athletes they train achieve?

Do not be afraid to ask the tough questions, challenge their assertions and take a hard look at your child’s program.  Realistically, your child only gets one opportunity to play tennis as a junior.  It would be a shame to look back and wonder, “what if?”


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