6 Mistakes Tennis Coaches Make
All Tennis Coaches are trying to do their best, but that doesn't mean you will never make mistakes. It is alright to make mistakes as long as we learn from them. Below, I've listed six most common mistakes tennis coaches make.
1. Wrong perception
When communicating, we have to remember that there are two perspectives: the coach and the player. Too many times coaches take their own perception based on their own experiences and don’t take into consideration what the player feels and thinks. This is a mistake that can make coaching really ineffective. Coaches should always try to put themselves into their player's shoes and try to understand them. Every individual player is unique and should be treated as such. A person from a rich neighborhood will act differently than a player whose parents struggle with money. Always try to take your player's perception into account before you say anything.
2. One way of communication
Another mistake that many coaches make is communicating in only one way. Delivering information can happen while using different methods. Words are the easiest and most popular way, but rarely the best way. We can also communicate using our body language. If you want to teach a proper serving motion, instead of describing all steps you can visually show them. Many players are visual learners, so it's important to use what works best.
Don’t forget that your communication can also be successful while being a role model. Many coaches try to make their own players eat healthy, but telling them is not enough. If you eat healthy on your own every time you eat with your players, it will surprise you that soon enough your student will also change their eating habits.
3. Not listening enough
We are all guilty of this. We love to talk. It shows how much we know. People appreciate when they hear good tips, but coaching is way more effective if you listen more than you talk. It is not about the quantity of your words, it is about the quality. Always listen to your players before you start because what you might think will help the player can be completely off. The best communicators are also great listeners, so practice your listening skills in order to talk less and achieve more. Again, it is about your player, so firstly focus on your student. Only when you have feedback, you can use your knowledge to help.
4. Coaching every player in the same way
In the beginning, coaches teach the basis principles of tennis, but it's important that there is enough freedom for each player's playing style. Do you force every junior player to play his backhand double handed? Or do you leave the player free in his choice when he sometimes hits doubled handed backhands and sometimes single-handed backhands? Do you teach your players the same playing style you had in the past? Certain general technical key points are important, but every player is different, so giving your players the freedom in their playing style is important.
5. Not involving the parents enough in the development of the player
Often coaches see the parents as an enemy. Parents are good enough to pay and bring their kids to the practice, but on the court the coach is the boss and they do not allow parents to interfere in the practice. Never forget that parents are actually in charge of sending their kid to your practice. Of course they don't have the knowledge a coach has, but they deserve to be informed about the progress of their child. When parents are unhappy about your practice, they won't send their child anymore to you practice, and then it will be too late to talk to them.
6. Not knowing enough about your player's background
It's important to know something about your player's background. Maybe your player is always exhausted in your practice, no matter how you hard you try to motivate them. The reason can be that he has a very busy week-schedule with daily practices with other coaches and other sports as well. Maybe your players regularly forget to bring their towel, water bottle, or sometimes even tennis shoes. The reason can be that the parents are divorced and that your player is living in two different houses, and has his stuff spread over two places. Maybe your player is not practicing well because he is worried about his school grades. Knowing the background of your player makes it easier for you to understand him or her.
When you recognize one or more of these mistakes in your own practice, you're already one step closer of being a good tennis coach. When you are aware of what mistakes you make, you can start by trying to avoid them.