League Tennis Strategy: Navigating the USTA League Schedule
Have you ever gone out to eat – let’s say to a really nice Sunday Brunch. The spread is amazing. Everything looks good – it’s all of your favorite foods: eggs benedict, custom omelets, crepes, thick cut bacon, fresh seasonal fruit… you get the idea. What happens when you indulge in all of it? How do you feel?
This is what I see happening with many league players and the USTA schedule. The USTA’s s job is to create an amazing “Sunday Brunch” style schedule each year. They want to give you tasty options. Your job is to choose wisely.
Too many players are “gorging” themselves on the schedule and end up not feeling so well – over scheduled, juggling multiple teams, injuries, upsets, burn out etc.
So after working with hundreds of players and consulting several league teams, here’s how we’d like you to think about your schedule. We believe there are 3 different types of teams. They are all equally important – they just have different goals.
- Fun/Social Team: To have FUN and be with friends
- Developmental Team: To work on your game – try new things
- Championship Team: To strive to make it to post season play
Fun, enjoyment and success will happen more often when team captains and players find the right fit. The team needs to be on the same page and aligned around the common goal.
It starts with the Team Captain. What type of team do you want to captain? Captaining a team is a LOT of work – so choose carefully. As the captain, you set the tone for the team. What are you up to next year? What are your goals? Once you decide this, then decide when you want to captain and then build the team with like-minded folks. If you are not able to “recruit” players at your club, then make sure you know what the goal of the club team is and really think about whether or not you want to captain it.
On the player’s side, I suggest the same thing. Figure out what your goals are and then choose the appropriate team. It’s all about the right fit.
Here’s what we encourage my players to do – pick one league season a year and make it your “Championship Team.” Put your fanny on the line once and year and strive for post-season play.
Pick one league season – 18+, Adult 40+ and be part of a team whose goal is making it to postseason play. Make this the only team you play on that season. Make a commitment to yourself and the team. There’s nothing like the experience of being on a united team striving for the same goal. Your game will improve.
Then decide what your goals are for the remaining leagues – which one will you play for fun and social – Flex, Mixed? Which one will be your developmental season – where you get to work on implementing aspects of your game (slice backhand, doubles formations) under match conditions. Your goal here is to grow your game. If your team happens to qualify for post-season play, great, that’s a bonus.
The USTA 2019 schedule is available now. Take a look and start planning your year – it will pay off!
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