At what age should my child start playing tennis and join the program?
Optimally, children should start playing tennis anywhere between 5-8 years old. We have seen children starting as early as 4 (a certain level of maturity is important) and as late as 11, while still being able to achieve desired results.
My child likes tennis but would also like to practice/play other sports. Would it still be beneficial for us to join ROGace’s program for 9-week session, take a break and come back? If yes, does my child have to go back to the beginner level?
We wholeheartedly support playing multiple sports before age 12 and believe that it will help to improve performance in all of them. Our experience shows that it is better to play multiple sports simultaneously, up to three days per week, than to play one sport, 3 days a week for 9-weeks, and then switch to another sport. That said, we will be supportive regardless of your choices. We believe that children learn and retain skills with relative ease, so players should not regress a level, even after a break.
I want my child to learn how to play tennis, but it is equally important to me that he/she will have fun. Is your program a good fit for us or are you dedicated to only “serious” players?
You cannot teach children without them enjoying what they do. It is imperative that children have fun on the court, however we do not believe that it means that there has to be “candy and unicorns” as a part of a program. Instead, we trust that when children are in the right environment, surrounded by peers, dedicated and knowledgeable coaches, and able to observe their growing skills and competence, they are going to have a great time while simultaneously learning and improving. For us, education and having a great time is not an EITHER/OR proposition, but an “AND proposition.”
My child would like to attend the program, but only if their friend is with them. Is it possible?
Our program is built on closely matching player levels within a small group, so they can develop their game in the most efficient fashion possible. That being said, there are multiple courts/groups running at the same time, with joined warm up and visual contact between all the players at all times. We understand a child’s desire to be with friends and, if feasible, we will try to facilitate that request. We will also make sure that each player makes new friends in the ROGace program while feeling great about being part of their group.
If my child played already with green or yellow balls, but is still under 12 years-old can he/she join ROGace?
We would love to set up a consultation and, after we assess the player, discuss the best course of action. Our goal is to help every player improve and develop a life-long passion for tennis. We are aware of psychological, physiological and peer factors that are at play and will aim to discuss our recommendations with parents/guardians, so they can make a well- informed decision. We are here to help you (parents/guardians) assist your children in their athletic development.
Can my child join the ROGace program without any previous tennis experience?
Absolutely! We are looking forward to the opportunity to share this exciting sport with you and your child. We will be able to guide you through the entire process, starting with how, where and when, through what equipment to use, and even how to register for The US Open. (OK. We admit — the last one might be slightly more elusive than the other goals, but we will be here to support you and address your questions, regardless when/if you need them).
My child has played tennis for a few years already. Will he/she have to play with beginners?
We individually evaluate every new player joining the program. During the evaluation, we will determine the appropriate level and match your child only with players of a similar skill level.
Is there a different path in your program for high performance vs. recreational players? I would like for my child to try to play tennis, but I don’t want to overcommit, before I make sure that he/she enjoys it.
We believe that with children under 12 years old, there is really only one path. This means we equip every new player with strong fundamentals, an understanding of the game and various basic strategies. The path of high performance as well as recreational players begins in the same way, and there is no need for early specialization or classification, regardless of goals and aspirations.
What does ROGace stand for?
It is an acronym for Red, Orange, Green, which are the progressive court sizes and ball colors recognized by USTA. Those different stages are often incorrectly viewed as indicators of a players’ tennis skills. This is only partly true since it is also based on multiple factors like physical and biological stages of development. Using incorrect equipment or being in the incorrect environment (court size) will, in most cases, have profound negative effects on the player’s development.
What concepts are used for developing your program? Do they align with USTA and other leading international tennis organizations?
All of the concepts used for developing ROGace are in line with leading American and International tennis organizations. Youth tennis is a constantly evolving field, and we are deeply passionate about constantly learning and adapting ROGace to represent the most advanced thoughts and techniques. Our program uses unique elements based on the combined experience of our team, as well as the most successful practices observed in our industry.
What is your philosophy on participating in multiple sports?
We are big supporters of children playing multiple sports. We recommend hockey and soccer as the best supplemental sports for tennis, as well as some throwing sports like baseball, to help with a serve. We believe that being the best at something at age 10 is much more of a curse than a blessing, and our training methods are focused on creating a strong foundation for performance at 16+ years of age.
What is ROGace’s view on private lessons?
In general, we believe that private lessons should be treated as supplement to being part of a group program. In our program, players constantly play with each other, which allows coaches to have an individual view on each player in the group. This also allows players to learn within the most realistic environment since they are constantly exposed to less-than-perfect shots. Private lessons could help with addressing a specific technical aspect or getting a more in-depth explanation of a particular shot or a tactic. However, we believe that children being motivated by their peers, games and a fun environment can correct many mistakes without detailed instructions. Small group lessons are also budget-friendly option for parents.
What is your view on competition? When should my child start competing in tournaments?
We believe that one of the best things about sports is competition. We aim to incorporate games into every practice, and from the earliest stages, start introducing different types of point play. That being said, each player is unique. For example, our experience shows that boys are quicker and more eager to compete in tournaments, whereas girls like to first feel very competent with their skills before they feel comfortable competing. Of course, all children are going to be unique and ROGace will work with every parent/guardian individually to develop a personalized plan for their little champion.
What is a minimum, optimal and maximum number of times that ROGace recommends for children to participate in its program?
There is no minimum, but as with every other skill in life, doing something very sporadically will not provide great results. Optimally, we suggest two organized practices per week. We encourage your child to play more tennis with friends or parents/guardians (it has to be a fun, light time, in the proper environment and with proper equipment, but without coaching). The best athletes often mention playing pick-up sports for hours and hours daily, and never getting tired of it. But the crucial distinction is minimal adult supervision, and the intrinsic motivation of the child (for further elaboration on this type of motivation, please refer to the question about motivation in the “Player” section in this FAQ). The maximum amount of times ROGace is going to allow their players to participate in any organized practices (that includes private lessons) will be three times a week. Ultimately, one of our core principles is to ignite a life-long passion for tennis, and we are not going to allow any of our players to burn-out at a young age.
What do the lessons look like?
Typically, we aim for 90-minute sessions, during which players will be grouped together based primarily on their skill level. During each session, players are going to follow a specific lesson plan adapted to the needs of a particular group. There will be a coach assigned to each small group, as well as one main coach supervising all courts. Players will mostly practice with each other, with coaches serving as facilitators. This approach allows for the most individualized coaching approach, since the coach is not tied down to one spot on the court. By avoiding traditional coaching “feeding” methods, we avoid the lines and time spent waiting/standing around.
Do you follow a lesson plan? What is it based on?
Each session has a specific lesson plan and it is based on our system of badges. Each moment spent on court will have a well-defined purpose that will be shared with parents, through the portal, on a weekly basis, as well as face-to-face for those watching during each class.
Will my child always be with the same players/coaches?
In general, we are going to try to keep the groups the same during a 9-week session. We will also try to keep the same coaches so players can create a positive relationship with their coach.
Can parent/guardian sit on the court?
From our collective experience as tennis coaches, we believe that in majority of cases, it is much better for all parties if parents are not on the court. That being said, there are few things to keep in mind: with the youngest players we are willing to work with parents/guardians to do whatever it takes to overcome the fear of separation. Transparency and communication with parents are two pillars of our approach. We promise that parents/guardians will never feel like they are under-informed.
What are your methods of evaluating a player’s progress and how does a parent with no tennis experience know if their child is improving?
In order to provide maximum transparency and a collective understanding for players, parents and coaches alike, we have developed a unique system of merit badges that explain, in plain language, our goals for each level. This system has been built on a foundation of our collective experience and it is continuously updated and revised. We have identified six badges/areas of focus: Forehand, Backhand, Offense, Defense, Serve, and Sportsmanship. Each of those categories will have three levels of mastery in the red level and three levels of mastery in the orange level. Members of the program will have access to a detailed explanation of the expectations for each level. Evaluation, planning, etc. will all be based on those badges. Also, the badges will be printed on the shirts of each program participant, so there will an external sign of player’s progress.
Will all badges be earned in parallel or some of them earlier than others?
In general, we are focused on well-rounded development of each player. ROGace believes that all of the basic shots, ball rotations and directions should be covered, before a player advances to the next level. This is why each player will work on all their badges in parallel, not being able to advance in any particular badge more than one level ahead of the other badges.
What requirements must be fulfilled to move from red to orange environment?
At ROGace, we believe that players on the red court should be capable of learning all of the strokes, rotations, directions and basic tactics, before moving to a bigger court size. In general, you can expect your child to know how to volley, slice and serve with the proper grip, as well as be able to rally with both hands, and be able to play one and two-handed backhands before they move to orange environment. Playing on a bigger court does not make someone a better player, but instead it requires significantly increased speed and strength to properly play the game. Without the ability to succeed in the red environment, players are assured to struggle with the increased court size and equipment.
What should be expected after completion of the red and orange programs/graduating out of ROGace?
Players who will receive a ROGace certificate of program completion are going to be small versions of high-performance players, with an ability to hit every single tennis stroke (well, Nick Kyrgios style “tweener” might not be a part of curriculum, but all other shots will), understand tennis etiquette, basic tactics and strategy, as well as be able to successfully compete (if desired) in tournaments. This is the ROGace promise and we believe whole-heartedly that, regardless of player’s athletic abilities, with a sufficient amount of time (in most cases at least 3-4 years of participating in the ROGace program with a minimum once a week frequency) every single player is going to be able to achieve the skills described above.
What is the proper equipment and where should I buy the appropriate racket?
Proper equipment plays a major role in the correct development of young tennis players. We will gladly advise you on the right racket and have some available at the club for purchase. The key is to have the correct size and a good quality racket. Rackets sold in various non-tennis specific department stores are, in majority of cases, not the correct rackets. Regarding size, even in tennis specific stores we often observe a lack of a proper understanding of what young children need. Most of the advice (if any) is based on biological size of the child, which is not always the right approach. Also, non-specialized people often advise changing the rackets to a larger size way too early, which has a very negative effect on the strokes that require more strength to begin with, like slice or volley. Having larger and heavier racket will only make those shots more difficult. In all, please give us a chance to advise you before making any final decisions.
Do you rent tennis rackets or will I be required to purchase one?
Currently we do not offer any rental options. The correct tennis racket is very important and it is relatively inexpensive to purchase.
How often should my child change their racket?
Every situation is unique, but as a general rule, players will be able to use a racket for around 1-3 years, before they outgrow it.
What type of shoes do you recommend?
It is not necessary to have tennis-specific shoes to participate in the ROGace program. However, for safety reasons we require each child to have sport sneakers with covered toes and non-marking soles.
How do you choose ROGace coaches?
Working with children requires a high level of empathy, understanding, energy and experience. On top of that, we are looking for people who are passionate about tennis, even if they are not themselves exceptional tennis players. Being a coach versus being a player requires a very different set of skills and character traits. Searching for the best coaches, we focus primarily on the candidates who radiate passion for educating and positively impacting children, as well as for the sport of tennis.
What kind of training do ROGace coaches receive prior to teaching their first class?
We take the promise of the highest coaching quality very seriously. To achieve that, we have multiple training mechanisms as well as quality control mechanisms. Once the coach-in-training meets the objective training criteria, as well as is able to translate the theoretical knowledge to practice, they receive a ROGace Coaching Certificate, and are ready to join our coaching team as Level 1 coaches.
What kind of training do ROGace coaches receive throughout their employment?
We have no illusion that we can learn everything that there is to know at any given time. Furthermore, we live by the same philosophy that we are trying to instill in our players: the path to superb skills or knowledge is a never-ending journey, where every step forward reveals a new area for improvement. We love what we do and choose to work with people who have a mind-set of lifelong learning. Part of our core philosophy is to ensure that our coaches stay at the forefront of the latest in tennis training and coaching children.
How does ROGace assure superb quality coaching?
We believe that choosing the right people and providing them with proper coaching education is the cornerstone for superb quality. Additionally, coaches teaching a particular group will always be joined by a “supervising” coach unassigned to any particular court or group of players. This allows for an unmatched level of attention paid to coaching quality, the performance of group of players, as well as the development of individual players. This helps to improve the quality of the program across the board.
Do you require all ROGace coaches to be high-level tennis players?
Previous playing experience is a plus (the founder of ROGace has been a high-level tennis player with a history of competing in multiple professional tournaments as well as on the NCAA Division 1 level). However, our expertise shows that familiarity and the ability to successfully work with children is much more important than tennis ball striking ability. As a result, we focus primarily on the candidates who radiate passion for educating and positively impacting children, as well as for the sport of tennis.
Does ROGace offer any system for keeping parents/guardians informed?
Parents/guardians are a very important member of a player’s tennis team. ROGace wants parents to be involved and have as much information available to them as possible. One of our primary goals as a company, is a high level of transparency towards all of the involved parties, which we are trying to achieve by: an initial conversation with every new parent/guardian, a “Welcome” presentation for parents, a “Welcome” package that includes all of the important information, follow-up conversations during the session, written badges/progress feedback during each session, and a dedicated Parents Portal section on the website.
What are the ways in which I can share my feedback?
There are multiple avenues, including face-to-face, Parents Portal communication, parent/guardian feedback in the end of a session, email or phone call. Whatever method you prefer, we make sure someone is always available to field your comments or concerns.
As a parent/guardian, what should be my role in my child’s tennis development?
Parents/guardians have an essential role in their child’s tennis development. Their support, encouragement and involvement are very important from the youngest age. Parents/guardians will steer their child’s career for an extended period, making crucial decisions like coach/program selection, providing economical and psychological support, etc. The key for parents/guardians is to focus on encouraging, praising and rewarding hard work, commitment, and proper behaviors, instead of results and comparisons to others.
Are there any drills or exercises that I could do with my child to help them improve their tennis game?
Tennis is a sport where agility and coordination are very important, so doing any kind of exercises that can improve those traits is beneficial. From a technical complexity point of view, serving is the most difficult, but at the same time, the most important shot. We recommend playing catch with your child making sure that, in most instances, he/she uses an overhead throwing motion. Being comfortable with a throwing motion directly translates to a better serving motion. The best advice that we can give to parents/guardians is to always try to lead with an example, because children are much more receptive to “do as I do”, instead of “do as I say.” Try to join your child in any of the activities or exercises that you would like them to be a part of, and you might not only solidify your position as a shining star in your child’s eyes, but potentially also have some fun yourself.
How can I help my child with their motivation?
There are two primary types of motivation: intrinsic (self-driven) and extrinsic (focused on outside factors like doing something to please others). A majority of children are going to be very extrinsically motivated with anything they do. They draw energy from seeking praise and acceptance from people who they care about, primarily parents/guardians, but also coaches and other figures they respect. Initially, this is expected and that is why ROGace’s coaches are well trained in understanding how to be a positive, motivational factor for all of the players. Eventually, children, through process of maturing, become more intrinsically motivated, often enjoying doing things that at which they’re competent. We believe that the source of motivation and drive are much better predictors of potential for high performance, than the elusive “talent” that is not easily and universally identified. Do not expect this intrinsic motivation to show up immediately or even within the first few years of any activity your child takes on. But it will be very easy to spot, when/if the shift starts happening. Using tennis as an example: the moment that they are ready and excited to go to play tennis, without any need for reminders; they get genuinely sad when they miss a lesson due to circumstances that they did not have control over; or start talking more about tennis and getting more interested in watching professional tennis.
How would I know, as a parent/guardian, if my child is ready for a tournament play? What are the appropriate tournaments for them to attend?
This can be a rather confusing and complex question, without having a proper understanding of the subject. This is why competition and tournament play is one of the topics that ROGace will address in periodical parent presentations offered to all of the members. On top of that, we are going to be providing individualized recommendations.
In case that my child has a strong tennis potential and drive, I am ready to support their effort to become a high-performance player. Am I not limiting their path by not specializing early?
Using professional tennis players as indicators for when all of the pieces come together, and when players hit their peak performance, we can learn a very valuable lesson. As of mid-2018 to mid-2019 when this text was written, there are no male Grand Slam winners under age 30. Stan Wawrinka, Swiss professional tennis player, multiple Grand Slam winner, started playing at age 8 once a week until age 11, when he started playing three times a week. For female players, peak performance comes much earlier, however significantly later than 20-30 years ago. Tennis requires an incredibly long career and a motivation to keep improving, often for over 20 years, before achieving peak performance. As adults, understanding this perspective should help us look at an 8 or 9-year-old child in an appropriate light. Children should be children and have a chance to be exposed to many different activities, before/if they decide to fully commit to one or two selected activities.
As a parent I embrace the idea of getting involved with the activities that my children are passionate about. Could I potentially become a ROGace coach myself?
We are always looking for passionate people who want to become a part of the ROGace coaching team. We would require the same detail of training and commitment as from any other coach but having parents who are involved is fantastic. Our experience dictates that coaching your own children (that includes professional tennis coaches and long term ROGace team members) is a very unique and extremely difficult task which often leads to very difficult situations.