Let’s face it tennis can be a pretty expensive sport. Most of the time the player/coach relationship is one of mutual respect and many successful moments and achievements. However, there are those families and players who have invested a lot of time and money into development only to feel like nothing has been achieved. Individuals spending thousands of dollars (sometimes hundreds of thousands) before realizing their coach has been faking it all along.
We have put together a few bullet points on what players should be looking for when it comes to coaches who care about them and are invested in their development. In addition, the second half of this guide lists eight warning signs that your coach might not be the right fit and it may be time to move on.
Coaches, this is a great reference and opportunity for you to review the way you build relationships with your students. We appreciate there are plenty more points that fit into each category but hopefully, these 16 will help out a few players and coaches with the player/coach relationship!
8 signs your coach is invested in your development:
- They check-in with you from time to time asking about your progress, not just to schedule your next session.
- Get to know you as a person and shows interest in your life outside of tennis without crossing any boundaries
- They make time for you and make it clear that you are important. You want to work with a coach who is understanding when unforeseen circumstances arise!
- When you are on court with them they are 100% focused on your session. Coaches shouldn’t be wandering off the court, engaging in lengthy conversations with people on other courts. This is your time and therefore you should be the single focus.
- It might seem like a little thing but having decent quality (or the right level) balls is essential. A good coach will make sure they are using the correct balls for each individual student…not settling for a few balls out of the dog’s collection to top off the basket!
- Everyone needs downtime including the coach but that doesn’t mean taking days to get back to students via email, phone call, or text. Coaches who care will get back to you promptly.
- Equipment is a very important part of the game, your coach should take the time to make sure you are using the correct racquet and won’t try to sell you a frame from their own sponsor just because it makes them look good.
- Will establish good communication with parents or team members.
8 reasons you might want to find a new coach:
- When coaches don’t listen to your opinions and it’s a one-way conversation, it’s not a good sign.
- They call you their favorite students and number one priority and they schedule you for the 6 am slot. It’s totally ok if 6 am is the only slot, but its big red flag if someone tells you that’s the prime spot when the 9 am-11 am or the 4-5 pm time slots are actually the most popular booking times.
- Recruiting new students is part of the business but be wary of coaches trying to give private lessons to a lot of players in your age group. (This is relevant to High-Performance players – national level students. This is merely a caution, be wary, and assess are they invested in you as an athlete, or are they worried about how many lessons they can do trying to make as much money as possible. It can be very difficult for your competitive players if their coaches work with multiple players in their age group and tennis is an individual sport. Everyone is a competitor and this does make it hard for young players if a coach is trying to coach a lot of players specifically in their own age group. the same does not apply for squads or groups.
- We all love traveling coaches or pros that will come along to weekend matches. Be warned, there are coaches out there, particularly on the professional tour that will take a job working with a lower-ranked player just so they can scout a new player while they are getting paid. These coaches can be sneaky and the warning signs will not be very obvious. One thing to look for is when a coach has worked with several players over a short period of time. If it looks like they are trying to one-up each time and use players stepping stones, there is a chance that’s whats going on.
- Everyone likes to let their hair down and have a good time, but coaches passing out in the tournament hotel lobby only to be woken up by the morning cleaning crew are probably best avoided. The same goes for coaches who are out drinking heavily and show up to practice/matches with alcohol breath.
- If your coach spends the whole lesson on their phone or checking text messages, move on.
- Your time is valuable, disorganized or careless coaches who regularly start lessons late or finish them early are being disrespectful and should know better.
- If you get the feeling that all you coach cares about is money, you are probably right. Business is business and coaches have to make a living, but if you ever get the feeling that you are nothing more than a paycheck, it might be time to find a new coach!