I have been writing posts with valuable information about how to develop tennis players this week. I want to round it out by talking about the power of consistency.
The first thing that comes to most people’s mind when I say consistency is keeping the ball in play. Be clear that is not what I am talking about here. What I mean by “consistency” is the consistency in coaching and the messages the player is receiving over a long period of time.
Imagine yourself in a high school algebra class. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday you have Mr. Smith as your teacher and on Tuesdays and Thursdays you have Mrs. Jones. Mr. Smith and Mrs. Jones are both award winning teachers but they never talk to one another, never plan anything together, and have different proven methods and progressions for teaching algebra. As a student you get confused very quickly because there is no consistency from day to day. In fact, you never end up learning algebra from either one of the world-class teachers because you never get to practice the same concepts consistently over the course of time.
All too often the same exact thing happens in the world of developing tennis players. There are many great and proven coaches. All good coaches have, over time, developed their own teaching methods and progressions. I personally do not agree with many things other coaches do and I am sure many do not agree with me either. The truth is neither is probably right or wrong. The only time it becomes wrong is when a player is trying to learn from both coaches at the same time. The messages are not consistent and it is a disaster and real shame for the player’s development.
This inconsistency often happens within junior tennis programs as well. If all of the coaches are not on the same page with what they are teaching, the methods, progression, and terminology it is inconsistent and works against maximizing player development. Even though everything is housed in one location the message is still inconsistent. This is exactly why schools have curriculums and invest heavily in educating their staff. The secret is not one magic curriculum or algebra teacher. Instead, the secret is consistency and progression in the messages being sent over the course of weeks, months, and years.
I have been to visit some of the greatest tennis programs in the country, such as the Junior Tennis Champions Center (JTCC). In my time spent there the thing that sets JTCC apart from so many other programs is consistency. All of the coaches are on the same page and are working towards the same goal. Much like a school, the JTCC heavily invests in educating their own coaches. The messages the players receive on a daily basis are consistent and that is the real secret to the work they do.
To prove my point about how important consistency is look at some of the best tennis players in the world. Think about players like Andre Agassi, Martina Hingis, Serena Williams. They were all coached by their parents for most of their lives. Their parents were not world-class tennis coaches or players but their parents were consistent. Some of them consistently crazy but none the less consistent. Even Rafael Nadal was coached and still is consistently by his Uncle Tony who taught him to use his left hand, even though he was right handed!
So please if you are reading this blog post understand the importance of consistency in working with a coach. Not everything will always go smoothly when developing a tennis player. There will be times of struggle and there will also be triumph. The good and bad times are what make a relationship strong. Even though at times finding a new coach when things are hard may seem like the right thing to do be wise in sticking with a coach consistently.