The coaching role has become a lot more complex these days than it was two decades ago. A lot more is expected from us coaches as the flow of information and knowledge has expanded tenfold. Knowledge not always translating into wisdom, as knowledge needs to be prioritized in order to be used effectively. I will do my best to put some of my perspectives in these few lines.
The amount of influence we have in the actual coaching arena is much bigger than it used to be 20 years ago. We get players from every corner of the planet due to globalization. Tennis has become more accessible to people all over the world than before. That brings the influence of the different “cultures”, way of being, surface where the game was learned, weather, physical typology and so forth to the table. Technology has made our life easier in several areas, but also more difficult in some others as information is available to everyone on the internet with no filter. It is hard for someone that doesn’t have experience with the game to make sense of the information and separate useful from not. In some aspects we do have a higher impact on development than others and we need expertise to understand which information is really useful and can have an impact on someone’s development. Whereas on the other hand, we also need to be able to discern which kind of information will not create a healthy relationship between what you invest and what you receive in return. Also, the new generations (Y) are more likely to not follow instructions without understanding and sometimes that understanding is not available to them due to their lack of maturity.
At times we need to be mentors and share our knowledge and experiences, then we have to be visionary leaders and help the young players to develop their own vision. Some other times we need to be trainers and have to help them repeat fundamentals and understand the value of discipline and perseverance, while modeling the behaviors we want to instill in them. Then, we coach, we ask them questions that can expand their horizons, we help them look inwards to understand themselves better and to be able to think for themselves. This at times is so very difficult, as parents are trying to save the kids from possible challenges and failures to not see them suffering, not aware that the champion inside of every one of us, is found beyond pain and suffering. The master will only show up once we have overcome many challenges on our journey.
And then finally there is another role we take and that is the role of managers, planing for our players and controlling the outcomes in order to create processes that bring up growth and progress.
So as you can see, to be a good and well rounded COACH is not an easy task and done well, it requires a lot of practice, experience, knowledge and time. Time that very often is not available or is difficult to finance. I believe that is why tennis still produces players that break through in a more spontaneous way, than as a result of a deeply planned project with strong foundations on knowledge and quality.
A good COACH:
Expresses interest in and concern for his COACHEES success and personal well-being.
Is productive and results-oriented.
Is a good communicator—listens and shares information.
Helps with development.
Has a clear vision and strategy for the COACHEES.
Has key technical skills that help him or her advise the COACHEES.
Evolve Your Game