How To Choose A Great Coach (Part1)
Being a good coach consists of few factors: extensive knowledge of technique, precise root error detection and effective methods of fixing it, constant feedback, ability to transfer knowledge to a student, ability to structure practice with the most benefit to the student, motivation and support, being able to create a fun atmosphere without losing the effectiveness of training, knowledge of off-court training, knowledge of tennis psychology, knowledge of tactics and strategies, knowledge of recovery process, and having good people skills, etc. I guarantee you there are very few people who possess all of these, but that’s what you should be looking for in a coach. The more of these factors the coach possesses the higher his/her value goes, consequently, the more benefit he/she will bring to the student. Let’s start by looking at these factors one by one.
1. Extensive Knowledge of Technique
This is by far one of the most important aspects of good coaching. After all, the coach is there to teach students how to hit the ball correctly, right? It follows that they will have to know how and why it has to be performed in a certain way. There are certain principles that have to be followed in order to produce an effective and efficient swing and there is virtually no room for creativity or interpretation there in terms of the mechanics of it. A good coach will be able to give you the big picture and then break every motion down and explain its function. “The devil is in the details,” people usually say, and every stroke in tennis is full of them. Starting with an accurate grip and ending with the end of the swing, it’s coach’s job to oversee and enforce correct stroke production and consistently correcting the wrong or inefficient ones.
Every student is different, and they will always bring a part of their own flair into their swings. It’s coach’s job to let their personality shine through their swings but at the same time make sure they maintain proper fundamentals in doing so. If there is ever any friction between proper form and student’s own interpretation of a certain swing, proper form should always come out on top. The coach should make the call whether their flair is compatible or complementary with the correct stroke production or not. If it’s not, it means that it is damaging to the student’s game and they should never allow it.
Unfortunately, there are many coaches out there who know only bits and pieces (if that) of a good swing and that forces their students to fill in the blanks themselves, overwhelmingly with the wrong mechanics that are extremely time-consuming to undo in the future. It’s a lot easier to learn the proper technique the first time around than learn and unlearn a bunch of times, that’s where the value of a good coach comes in. They will make sure that their students learn the proper form right away, which gets them better faster, spares them a lot of frustration from learning and unlearning, saves them their body and their wallet in a long run, and increases their overall enjoyment of the game.
I always say that any swing in tennis is a like a manual watch, it contains many gears that have to work just right in relation to each other. On court, it is up to the coach to break every factor of the swing down to their students, make them grasp the reasons why those factors are there and what benefits the students will attain in performing them accurately.