Nick Bollettieri and his teaching professionals from IMG Academy headlined an exciting Kids Day on opening day at the Atlanta Tennis Championships. Bollettieri taught two clinics in the afternoon, the first for kids 10 and under and the later for kids 11 and over.
In both sessions, Bollettieri gave the kids demonstrations on the proper technique on forehands and backhands. He then divided the kids up on the courts and gave each child personal tips for improving their strokes along with his other experienced teaching professionals. Bollettieri acknowledged that each kid is different and there is no one perfect form or style that will lead to success. He told the kids that they do not need to focus on being perfect, but they should just focus on trying to improve every time they play. This includes not focusing on results, but trying to keep your mind set on the big picture and take everything one step at a time.
Bollettieri utilized the USTA’s 10 And Under Tennis courts, which he claims he "may be the biggest supporter of in the world." The 10 And Under courts are designed to help the kids work on the fundamentals of tennis as well as to help them to have early success. Frank Solona, one of the teaching pros at the clinic, praised the 10 And Under program because the low-compression balls and smaller courts allow younger kids to have success in tennis. The goal is to get kids playing from the start, which results in more confidence and fun for the kids. This approach is essential for helping children continue to pursue tennis. With the success 10 And Under Tennis, Bollettieri and his staff love seeing the joy on kids faces as they gain confidence and have fun with through their success on the court.
After helping the kids with their strokes, Bollettieri then fielded questions from the kids, revealing a fun, unique insight into the mind of the coaching legend. The questions ranged everywhere from, "Can you help me with my backhand?" to "Who was your favorite player to coach?" and "How did you get into tennis?" Bollettieri fielded everyone’s questions with his personal stories throughout his long coaching career. One thing that became quickly apparent was that with the right attitude tennis can truly be a sport for a lifetime.
Throughout the clinics, Bollettieri and his staff sought to instill a constant theme of paralleling success in tennis and success off the court. IMG Academy’ overall message was to prepare the kids "to go out and make the world a better place." Bollettieri preached that in order to accomplish this, kids must a positive attitude not only on the tennis court, but in all aspects of their lives.
At the end of the session, IMG Academy had giveaways – Prince racquets and racquet bags -- for the kids. The grand prize was a week at the IMG Academy with Nick Bollettieri.