The following letter came from a tennis parent
“Hi!! I am in trouble, need your help in deciding the right coach for my kids. Is yelling and demotivating at every step is a solution to producing a good athlete?? I have a feeling that my son’s tennis coach really yells at my son during the entire private lesson mostly. He thinks my son is a slow learner and keep repeating the same mistake, but at some point I feel the coach is not able to do the right way to teach him.
In this process I feel my son is loosing self confidence. He is not a natural athlete and is doing his best to get better as he really loves the game. What do you think should I do?? Change his coach?? What to look for when choosing a good tennis coach.
Every time my son looses a match, or doesn’t play well in the match he kinda calls him names and says that he is incapable to play tennis. Is this the right attitude??”
I asked our tennis experts Marcin Bieniek and David Mullins to give their advice
Marcin Bieniek: Yelling and demotivating are not actions that we would like to see in successful tennis coaching. To be honest with you we are looking for completely opposite traits. Good tennis coach should motivate players, believe in them and be able to positively communicate with them.
Your coach looks like he is entirely results-oriented and because of lack of results he is full of anger. If your son loves the game and tries his best every time during the practice session and tennis match it means something is wrong with the cooperation.
You should think about new coach. While looking for a better fit consider these factors: positive approach, goal-setting, long-term plan, support, performance-oriented, skilled at communication. Let me know what you decide and if you have any further questions. Remember that it is not an easy job to find a perfect coach but you can’t allow your current coach to demotivate your son and make him lose the passion for tennis.
David Mullins: I believe your mind is already made up that this coach is not the right person for your son. If your son is loosing self-confidence and motivation to play the game then it is definitely time for a change. I am not sure what age your son is, but this coaches philosophy and style that you describe does not seem appropriate for any age, especially a young junior player.
Thank you for your honesty in owning that your son is not necessarily a “natural” athlete but loves the game. This is the vast majority of junior tennis players; very few players are going to succeed at an elite level. It sounds like you want your son to continue to enjoy the sport of tennis, and learn some valuable life lessons in the process.
Firstly, there is no rush to find another coach. I believe that too many junior players these days are over coached, and don’t appear to be allowed or willing to develop their games without some form of adult supervision around at all times.
You want to find a good tennis coach that puts the same energy and passion into their coaching sessions regardless of the age or level they are coaching. You want to find someone who loves the art of coaching tennis, and is in the profession to help as many people as possible maximise their potential and love for the game.
Take some time to let your son enjoy the game without coaching. During this time start visiting clubs or asking other parents or players you know as to who they would recommend and why. You want to make sure this next experience is a positive one for your son. The coach should not make any wild promises as to what your son can accomplish or sell you on taking X number of lessons per week.
If they are pushy, or trying to sell you something then they are probably in it for the wrong reasons. They should be generous with their time and understand that the player-coach relationship goes beyond the one hour a week on the court from time to time. Hopefully you will find a personable coach that looks to connect with your son and can help him on his pathway.
Your son also has a responsibility for his game and lessons. He should be able to tell the coach what aspects of the game he is struggling with and would like to work on from one week to the next. The relationship goes both ways, and the coach should be very open to this kind of exchange.
I have no doubt you will find a good tennis coach in your area that can meet the needs of your son. You are the customer, and if your expectations are that your son looks forward to and enjoys his tennis lessons then you should be a very happy customer when you find a coach that can deliver on this need.