There is always a subject talked about by coaches of all standards and abilities – and that’s the state of tennis.
Personally having been involved full time for over 10 years as a professional coach, I have seen some huge changes to the sport.
Pee wee tennis, hot shots, super 10s, 12s, etc. I was lucky enough earlier in the year to get invited to the Gold Coast QLD to work with some of the best 10 year olds in Australia – and let me tell you the standard of coaching has improved greatly since our first WA representatives battled it out on court in the Eastern States. Also the Mentoring roles from some of the older more experienced coaches who took the time to talk to us about tennis and life and the points of difference that separate you, from the rest of the coaching field.
One thing clearly stuck out for me, and its a word I use daily -PASSION. talking to the other coaches their as well it was clear you can have all the coaching credentials, you can have all the gear and equipment, you can have experience here, there and everywhere – but unless you have a passion for the game, the industry and to deliver world class programs and lessons, then I believe you cant provide a quality service and you can’t expect your players to have the passion. The best girl at this camp was motivated, on the jump rope, drinking water, she was the best mover, striker of the ball, and she was the most passionate about her tennis. And so was her coach. As laid back off the court, talking footy and holidays, once that gate was walked through onto the court it was “game time”.
Learning from these great coaches, mentors and State talent coaches, gave me confidence in two things.
1. Knowing the programs we deliver along with the passion we have for improving each player as an athlete and a person, will always create a successful environment for those involved. and
2. For athletes to be serious about there tennis – a commitment is needed from their coach in the form of travel and support on the road. I have met some great coaches on the road, travelling to events. And the general talk is…there are a lot of cash coaches out there happy to take your $$ for a 30, 60,90 minute lesson, but not happy to take you to tournaments and events. Ask yourself this. Money is paid for a service, to get better and improve at tennis -not to improve hitting with a coach. But what is the point of paying a coach and then get to a tournament and your alone and no-one sees you play. I’ve been travelling to events the last 13 years and always with a clipboard (now a smart phone) making notes, things to work on, positives and negatives to dicuss after matches, but it also helps to set up for the next training block, whether it be squads or private lessons. Travelling in a group provides an instant crowd and support, instant mate ship after a loss, a hitting partner whenever needed. The kids feed off each other – the passion grows.
One thing remains the same. If you have the passion and desire to play good tennis – you will. Regardless of the gear, the costs, the travel etc. If you have the passion, you will forever be improving and developing on and off the court.
I love reading stories about players who hit against brick walls and tin sheds, had hand me down racquets, and that did it really tough. Recently on holidays I read for the 3rd time Andre Agassi’s book. He was forced into tennis by his dad, and his dad worked him to the ground. He had talent and was picked up by Nick Bolleterri. At Bolletteri’s Andre rebelled until he got a belief that he could actually be world no 1. And he did everything in his power to do that.
Here in Australia we are blessed with so many options for kids, from the main sports to freestyle dance, trampolining, rock climbing, there are so many choices. We can look at the Spaniards, the French and the Russians doing so well on the tour, do they have the same lifestyle that we have here in Oz? We can also look at the heavy population in these areas. We have the beaches, the technology, and the options. Talking to a coach we were interviewing from Spain about the lifestyle and the options kids have in his hometown. To put it simply it is work or soccer or tennis or crime…that’s it – So simply for the Aussies to have more than 2 athletes in the top 100 is amazing. Let alone the numbers we have at the moment.
Personally I think the talent pool will grow, but only with the passionate athletes. Without this passion, we wont have the superstars. But I think the future is great. Kygrios has had an amazing season cracking the top 60. We have a Junior Grand slam singles and doubles winner just last week at the US Open.
We can be quick to judge and compare – but with what we have to offer on our door step, I think those with the passion will follow their dreams, work hard and hopefully succeed. We let our advanced juniors know performance is everything, but personally I can tell you that when you have the passion for what you are doing, performing is a lot easier and simpler!