Coaching is a responsible job. Many coaches even say that coaching is not a job – it is a passion and mission at the same time. This profession gives incredible opportunity to teach way more than just tennis skills. The most successful coaches are also great friends, mentors and supporters to name just a few roles they have to get into. Unfortunately not all the coaches are of the same ambition and professionalism so you should be aware of it.
Coaching job got through the big transformation over the past years. Many years ago coach was responsible just for teaching right strokes and incorporating some tactical patterns. Then coaches started to pay more attention to physical preparation and some healthy nutritional habits. Modern coach is a multicomplex machine – he has to be knowledgeable at almost all areas. Starting from typical technical, tactical, physical and mental skills, modern coach has to implement also nutritional plans, recovery techniques, analytical methods and organise all environment around the player.
Recently, tennis world starts to get coaches more involved in competition. Few years ago we saw post-match interviews with coaches and nowadays the new rule is that coaches can talk to their players during matches at Junior Grand Slam tournaments. Is it a good change? That’s not the point. The point is that the role of coach is going to be stronger and more visible than anytime before so it is time to pay more attention who we hire.
I get that coaches come from different environments and have own experiences that have influence on own coaching style. There are some general things that all coaches should have but there is also a pretty long list of traits that should make us cautious about hiring particular person. As a private travelling coach I was able to see many coaches both during my playing and coaching career and I see some activities that I will never accept.
If you see one of these activities performed by your coach it is time to thing about change:
- Coach is late for practice session
- Coach doesn’t give 100%
- Coach thinks he knows everything
- Coach never says „I am sorry” and „I was wrong”
- Coach doesn’t explain his actions
- Coach doesn’t have plan for all practice sessions
- Coach doesn’t care about your goals
- Coach puts more emphasis on one player over the other
- Coach is negative all the time
- Coach uses mobile phone for not coaching purposes during practice
- Coach is not a role model
- Coach doesn’t have time for you after practice
- Coach doesn’t want to go to any tournament
- Coach doesn’t improve own knowledge through workshops etc.
- Coach loves talking and hates asking
- Coach thinks he is the most important person
- Coach has big ego
- Coach is not open for changes
Now you are armed with handy list that you can use to assess your current or future coach. Remember that one trait from this list doesn’t have to cross the coach out but the more he has the bigger chance that you will pay more and receive much less than you expect. If you have any experiences with coaches that you are not rally happy about please share your thoughts in the comment box.
Marcin Bieniek is a professional tennis coach and founder of instructional website http://tennisisland.us. Marcin has been working with USTA, top 50 ITF and WTA/ATP players. He is a frequent contributor to TennisPro and TenisKlub magazines and he was a speaker at International Coaching Tennis Symposium 2016 at Hilton Head Island, USA.