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A quality coach is someone who can continuously improve/develop the player’s abilities without injuring the athlete, since the best athlete is the one that is healthy (how much good does it do if you have the fastest serve but you can’t walk onto the court?). With reference to the aforementioned definition, the quality of coaching in tennis (not just in the US) is questionable, especially in organizations that proclaim to be great in player development, such as NCAA Div I schools, Evert Academy, Schüttler-Waske-Tennis-University, and IMG. Don’t believe it? Pay attention to how many tennis players have to withdraw from tournaments each week due to injury.

The main reason is that most coaches are simply uneducated in key scientific areas as they relate to coaching. If, at a minimum, a coach doesn’t know about:

then he/she cannot be a quality coach because all these factors play a vital role in player development. Just because a coach works with a top 10 player or at a well-known tennis academy doesn’t mean that he/she is a quality coach.

One could argue “that you can educate yourself in all of these fields without a degree from a University. You may not be able to prove you have educated yourself without the actual degree but a good coach is constantly looking to improve and is constantly reading and studying to do just that.”

True but why spending all the time and money trying to learn all these things without gaining a proof of competency especially when schools outside the US don’t charge as much tuition? Also, if one had to pick a financial adviser why would one choose someone who is uneducated in the field of finance but holds a bachelor’s in politics, series 7 & series 9 certification, and has some work experience? Of course, one wouldn’t want to have someone with an education and extensive background in finance etc…The point is that in the world of tennis, unlike in other professions, a quality education and proof of competency are not required in order to work at the top level. It is simply a shame how badly educated most coaches are in the top academies and even on tour. Most kids don’t even have a chance for success because their coaches are unqualified. Instead of helping the kid out reaching his/her dreams, the coaches don’t fully apply themselves but expect to get paid well. Go and watch a training session: most coaches don’t plan any practice sessions and most don’t do more than 20 different drills/exercise, ever. How many do warm ups and stretching before and after each practice?

“How come each kid seems almost a clone of every other child? They all can bang the ball but that’s just not all there is to the game.”

The reason why one sees so many “cloned” kids is that there is limited quality individual coaching, which would require some expertise and effort on the part of the coach. Instead, they do the same routines all day every day, which requires the least amount of effort. Then the coaches tell the kids that they are doing an awesome job and are getting better and the kids believe it of course.

It doesn’t matter how one teaches but it is the tennis coach’s responsibility to develop a player, which means that he/she is able to consistently execute all kinds of shots and different spins. Fact is that one can go to the national championships and observe that 85-95% of all players are limited in their stroke production capabilities (e.g. how many girls can volley properly? One-handed slice and backhand volley?). Some can be attributed to mental pressure but the main reason is that the athletes have not been developed properly.

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How many former great tennis players do an apprenticeship and shadow a successful coach on tour or at national training facilities? None! Instead, 2 weeks after they finished their active playing career, they open up “one of the best tennis academies in the country” to produce future champions. Then they will say that they coached former tour player X,Y, and Z and that they know how to make your kid a professional player, which requires taking 3-4 private lessons/week @ $100/hr in addition to the academy routine. Don’t believe it? Check out just how many former tour players have tennis academies in Florida and what parents feel they need to do in order to get their kid the training he/she should have.

 

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