Before an athlete is an athlete, they are first a person. A person who has strengths, weaknesses, emotions, life stressors, school, work, financial pressures etc. They have a story to tell, influences around them and factors that effect their decision making in both life and on the sporting arena. Before we, as coaches, attempt to assist an athlete we first must understand them.
We have to have an understanding of;
- Why the person is the way they are?
- Why they make certain decisions under pressure?
- Why they get anxious prior to a big match?
- Who is the driver in their development?
- What the make-up is of their home life?
- How they were parented?
- What are their goals?
- Their personality profile.– (Understanding how your athlete acts or responds in their own way)
- Their preferred learning styles.– (Understanding your athletes preference for learning, and retaining information)
- Their work rate.
Secondly, the person needs to have certain physical attributes to be able to perform relevant tennis skills. Early specialisation is a major concern in the development of an athlete. From a young age it is important for each person to try different sports or activities that develop both the gross and fine motor skills. Gross being the body movements of crawling, jumping running etc and fine motor skills being the ability to use the smaller muscle groups including the hands, feet, fingers and toes. As the child grows, so does the need for the motor skills to be clearly developing to the likes of throwing, catching, tracking, striking etc. Without these motors skills it becomes increasingly challenging to help a player in a sport like tennis.
Thirdly, as a coach, if you understand the person and their capabilities, we find it easier to implement correct technique, anticipation, perception, game sense and overall tennis abilities. If you are a tennis coach, then knowing the game of tennis and being able to teach it is the easy part. But, if we do not understand how to convey our message specifically for the player in front of us in a way they will accept or the player doesn’t have the athletic ability to perform the required task, then it makes our job impossible.
Our Philosophy has been created from over 20 years of trial and error. Think about your own process of teaching and if your philosophy resembles a successful retention model for your athletes.
Creating your own philosophy becomes critical to the success of your teachings. When you get a moment write down the 3 key components of your philosophy that can help you stay consistent when making decisions based on your athlete’s development.