I am going to be completely honest in this post, very early in my tennis coaching career I was focused on things that simply were not very important in the bigger scheme of things. As I have grown older and wiser I have been fortunate to have learned the real value in coaching. The real value lies in using tennis to serve others, developing the person first and the tennis player second.
What I mean by using tennis to serve others is simple. In my humble but biased opinion tennis is the greatest sport in the world. The life lessons and character that a child can learn and develop by pursuing tennis is truly priceless. Here is a link to a previous blog about the Life Lessons Tennis Teaches. I feel very fortunate to have learned through my experiences lessons such as developing a strong work ethic, dreaming big and goal setting, and I pass these and so many more on to young athletes. Instead of focusing on self-serving aspects like how I can benefit from coaching tennis, I focus simply on how I can use tennis to better each player as a person first and tennis player second. I find that in the process I am much more fulfilled and many of these young athletes happen to turn into champions of life and pretty good tennis players as well. It has been amazing for my coaching because it gives me such a wonderful sense of purpose and fulfillment.
This way of thinking about my coaching has allowed me over time to develop some very powerful mentoring relationships with young athletes. I have a system or curriculum I use to develop tennis players. I teach things in a progression and have a methodology that I follow. However, what I have found is that it is not the system or specifics about technique that makes instruction great. Instead, what makes instruction great is the relationship between athlete and coach. When athletes truly respect their coach and learn deeply from them this is what makes instruction great. It takes time to earn trust and respect, as it should, but I have found that when a coach cares about the person first and tennis second it makes it much easier to develop a player to their fullest potential. It is only when you have that relationship built on trust and respect that the real magic with the tennis starts to happen. They say, “No one cares what you know, until they know you care.” I think that quote sums up what I whole heartedly believe in as one of the foundational pillars in my coaching.