21 Feb New era in tennis coaching
Information vs Transformation in Tennis
When I was a junior tennis player I practiced in a hometown tennis club in Croatia. It was a different era in tennis, when everybody was having more fun playing club games and doing group practice, and above everything, everybody was listening to the club coach. And I literally mean everybody: juniors, seniors, best players, parents, fans and even recreational players. Back then, the knowledge about tennis was much appreciated and the only person who could provide it was somebody who had years and years of experience. And that was the coach.
Today, we are living in a whole different story. People involved in tennis today have so much information about things like technique, tactics, fitness, mental strength, tournament scheduling, etc. As I wrote in my previous blog about nutrition, anybody who tries to compete in providing information today is going to lose to an unbeatable competitor. Even in Tennis, he is everywhere and his name is Google.
Have you ever experienced while coaching/explaining a certain point in technical or tactical element of the game that a day after the player or more often a parent comes with a couple of questions about what you were saying? I’m sure you have. And the best thing is that many times they have a point, what they’re saying makes sense. Welcome to the new age! Today, information is everywhere. It’s cheap, abundant and people can get an answer to just about everything in a matter of minutes.
So, do players actually need a coach any more?
Here are two things why I think they do:
First, as in many things, hence in tennis as well, it takes years and years of work and experience to get to the point where you can find a very simple solution for almost any type of problem. A good coach has the ability to filter all the information in a matter of minutes and provide to a player only the most important one in a very simple way.
Second, the problem is not that the players or the coaches don’t know what to do, but in actually doing it every single day. They can have all the information they need, but if transformation on the court never happens, it’s worth nothing. Again, we are getting to the point where the power of transformation is much more valuable than power of information.
Competitive advantage of a modern tennis coach should not be in providing information; it should be in aiding the player’s transformation.
Our job as the coaches of professional tennis players is to help them do things they already know, and to do it every day with the same focus, same intensity, same passion, same quality. That’s our job. It seems easy, doesn’t it?
Coaching is a process used for transforming people from who they are to who they want to be. Professional tennis coaching became far more integrative than just providing information on the court. We need to be there with the player every day and help him/her to make that transformation. Without setting an example and high standards, inspiring, looking at the bigger picture, it is very difficult to do that.
There is nothing brand new that I’m going to tell them that they haven’t already heard. I might frame it in a different way. When they hire a coach, they are getting me as a person and as a coach. And a coach is someone who holds them accountable, leads them, motivates them, encourages them, and inspires them.