| By Jason Wass

September is an exciting time, as the U.S. Open is in town, school is starting and it’s back to the daily grind for tennis players, parents and coaches alike. Now is the perfect time to evaluate or re-evaluate your tennis goals (maybe your other goals too).

I believe that it is vital for players, parents and coaches to have a realistic plan for the upcoming weeks, months and years in order to get the most out of your time on the tennis courts. I like to keep my goal-setting exercise fairly simple, by setting up three time frames:

Short-term goals (0-6 months)
These goals allow you to set your focus on immediate expectations and how you are going to accomplish them.

Medium-term goals (six months-one year)
This time frame allows for you to look into the future and set somewhat lofty but attainable goals that will allow you to strive for greater objectives that you would like to see yourself accomplish and really sets the direction you would like to see your tennis go. For instance, if you are currently playing Level 2 tournaments, you may want to set a goal that you will play three Level 1 Tournaments within this time frame.

Long-term goals (one year and beyond)
These goals are further reaching, but should give insight into where the player, parents and coach will eventually want to end up based on the other goals that have been set and the type of training that is being provided.

Here are some tips for planning your goals.

Be realistic. While considering talent, desire, schoolwork and other time commitments, create goals that are achievable and something that you will be able to reach with hard work and dedication. If you set your goals too low, you may not push yourself to full potential, and if you set goals too high, it could become discouraging to fail.

Don’t forget the how. It’s fantastic to plan accomplishments, such as “I want to be a professional tennis player”, however you have to remember that once goals are created, the next logical question becomes: “How will you reach your goals?” If you plan to “hit better backhands,” plan to devote time and energy in your training.

Quantify. It’s always easier to measure how you are doing if you quantify things. For example, if you are trying to improve your second serve, you may need to strive for certain numbers like “make 10 second serves in a row” in practice. In tournaments, you may want to challenge yourself to reach the next level of a tournament, “Semifinals of a Level 1 Tournament.”

Consider the obstacles. See “Be realistic,” but more importantly, remember your other commitments (obstacles), such as schoolwork, dance recitals or musical performances. It is very difficult to become a professional tennis, concert violinist and NASA astronaut.

Good luck with the goal-setting process and remember that this needs to be done as a group which includes players, parents, coaches, trainers, and sometimes, doctors, in order to make this exercise useful for all involved.

Jason Wass

Jason Wass is the Director of LuHi Summer Programs, he spent over 20 years as a Director of Tennis for Sportime Clubs.  A USPTA and USTA Net Generation Certified Coach, Jason has  a passion for youth sports development.  Jason believes in developing strong foundational skills in all young athletes.  He strives to provide positive athletic and camp opportunities to families to encourage healthy habits and lifestyles.  Coach Jason lives in Massapequa with his wife, Julie, son, Daniel and dog, Shelby.  He may be reached at jwasstennis@gmail.com.