Q&A: Sam & Lori Riffice on player development and the American Development Model
Fresh off winning the NCAA team and individual singles titles at the 2021 NCAA Championships, University of Florida men's tennis captain Sam Riffice sat down with USTA.com to discuss his development as a player, from his younger days through to his current status at the top of the college game. Lori Riffice, Sam's mother and a national coach with USTA Player Development, also joined for an in-depth conversation centered on the American Development Model.
In the above video, Sam and Lori discuss a wide range of developmental topics, including the importance of playing multiple sports for young athletes, how to have fun on the tennis court, and more. For a sneak peak of the conversation, check out some of the highlights below.
Lori Riffice, on young athletes playing multiple sports:
"The best tennis players are the best athletes. Sam's had lots of different sports in his past, which have helped him develop different skills for tennis... These skills can really only be learned when the child is young. There are certain windows of development. Really, when a player is under the age of 12, it's the ideal time for them to learn other movements, other coordination skills, agility and balance."
Sam Riffice, on having fun on the tennis court:
"When I have fun, focus on the process, and enjoy the little things that you have to do to get better, that's when I play my best. When you're out there and your practicing with your friends, you're kind of trash-talking, you're having fun while you're doing it. It's just good energy out there. You've got to enjoy that, because you practice a lot. If you focus too much on little things, you can get stressed out and it's just not as fun. You have to put in a lot of hours, and you have to have a good mindset while you're out there.