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The Benefits of a Diverse Approach to Coaching.

There are lots of conversations about 70% of points being won in shots 1-4 but without doing technical work, which give shots repeatability and resilience, we limit the success in a player’s execution of specific patterns of play. Imagine a young player with a poor serve due to technical issues; they are unable to work simple patterns without first having an effective stroke which in most cases comes from a high degree of technical proficiency. To develop the skills required  takes a considerable amount of time and repetition with lots of  guidance and feedback from a coach.

If a coach is training/coaching high level young players it’s great to work with more of a games based approach and indeed focusing on shots 1-4, but this isn’t to say a coach will never do a purely technical session isolating specific needs of a player in order to further develop their ability to execute a game plan. 

Every player has bespoke needs and there is no exact formula to maximise a player’s potential and learning. Personally I like to coach using aspects of many different philosophies. Its very easy to get wrapped up in a specific methodology and then miss valuable learning opportunities which coaches from different backgrounds and tennis cultures are advocating.

Having a diverse approach to coaching will help players find what works for them and ultimately take greater ownership of what they do.

The balance of volume and quality!

In a high performance programme both quality and volume are accepted requirements but there is a tipping point at which volume may become mindless, counter productive and in some cases damaging.

How do we define quality training?

I would say quality training is: purposeful and deliberate - a player knows what the intention and theme of a session is and then is structured and delivered to challenge the player

Good intensity and Energy - This is brought by player and coach and can quite often be linked to culture (this could be a geographical culture or culture of the coach/academy and player(s)) specific, measurable and relatable -  This is a coaches understanding of the player’s game and the ability to communicate. a player needs to understand the process and what it will achieve.

How do we avoid mindless volume?

Training in high player to coach ratio sessions should not be the norm. Occasionally is fine  but in general this is used for volume and hitting with peer group.

Hence work in focus groups of 2-4 players.

Structured and progressive lesson planning by coach/academy with clear effective delivery of information.

We must also schedule in rest and recovery including days off, sometimes those extra couple of hours on court on a day off can do more harm. Fatigue can lead to frustration which can lead to lower confidence which may effect performance.

Finally training cultures of the coach and player(s) need to align and only at this point will real quality work happen.

Under the Microscope!

We take our children to squads, we watch

We take our children to 1-2-1 lessons, we watch

We take our children to tournaments, we watch

On top of all this one or more coaches may watch

When I was a junior there were nowhere near as many parents watching squads, lessons and tournaments, in fact many of us made our own way to tournaments via public transport. Obviously there are pro’s and cons to both scenarios but the anxiety of being judged was far less in my day which allowed for a greater freedom of expression and creativity. I look back at on court behaviour 30+ years ago and to be honest it was worst than today but was this a bad thing? We had so many characters that developed into highly successful independent adults who have had and are having incredibly varied and fulfilling careers. 

The thing is are we wanting to develop independent, problem solving autonomous adults or young people who continuously look for approval and to be given the answers to life’s many questions?

Something to try:

Drop your young player off at a squad, a 1-2-1 lesson or a tournament and leave them. This will empower them giving them the responsibility for their own actions. To begin with this may be difficult for both the player and parent but over time will greatly increase a players confidence and ability to look after themselves and make decisions independently.

Questions at pick up:

Did you enjoy yourself?

What did you learn?

What were you proud of?

You don’t need to ask, “did you win/lose?” a player will volunteer that information, also if that’s the first question asked it sends out a very clear message that this is the single most important point!

When we (parents) watch we tend to talk to a young player post a session or match about what we saw, when surely we should be listening to the players experience and how it was for them. 

Just a few thoughts while sitting on my hotel bed as Ava goes off to play her first round at Bolton. 

20/11/2020

I am so proud of everything we have achieved at York St John University Sports Park over the last 5 years. Our long term vision was always to have an indoor tennis facility which was accessible to all and after a lot of meetings, discussions, proposals, business plans etc we finally have our amazing centre. Believe you me, persuading a national governing body and a university to invest over £1 million in your dream is no mean feat. 

A massive thank you has to go to York St John University and Rob Hickey Chief Operating Officer for seeing, believing and supporting our vision and the LTA (Paul Sheard, Paul Bennet and countless others) for their “Transforming British Tennis Together” scheme which gave us a vehicle to base our project on.

This project is a success for everyone, York St John University, The LTA, Down The Line Tennis Academy, the community but most of all for Tennis as now we truly have a 365 days a year accessible venue in York for everyone to enjoy the sport I have loved since being a young boy.

“VERY PROUD” 

2020 our story so far........

2020 was always destined to be a game changer of a year for DTL Tennis with planning permission granted for a 3 court indoor tennis facility with all stake holders agreed on all aspects of the build. 
On 23rd March a national lockdown was announced by the government due to the rapid spread of a novel virus called “Corona” and DTL Tennis was closed along with all other non-essential business. This also meant that there would a delay on the build. As with everyone else in the UK this meant very uncertain times for us. 
8 weeks later, after a glorious spring with no rain and seemingly great tennis weather, lockdown restrictions were eased and we were allowed to start coaching again under strict guidelines, which we were happy to adhere to as me and the coaching team were just happy to be back on court.
By the beginning of June we got the exciting news that construction would start mid June and would not be effected by any COVID 19 restrictions so a completion date was set for the end of November 2020. We felt this was very ambitious but as my birthday is on St Andrews Day felt it was fate!
Coaching over the summer months was very busy albeit very different as schools were closed so daytime was much busier and evenings quieter, TBH this was a real treat for us coaches as it allowed us the luxury of working closer to a 9-5 working day.
Slowly the country opened up and various restrictions were eased unfortunately this led to a rise in COVID infections and the rate of transmissions. On November 5th we we asked to lockdown again for 4 weeks to slow down the virus spread and to ease the burden on our amazing NHS. 

This time lockdown didn’t seem so daunting as we’d been here before and of course the big incentive that when we come out of lockdown on 5th December we would be able to launch a new chapter as the indoors would be finished.........

Ideas to help motivate!

Shadow tennis is such a great thing to do when we aren't able to get on a tennis court. Really focus on your technique and using the correct footwork, stances and dynamic balance. There are also some S&C videos and are just designed to give you ideas, you can add to them and be creative. Keep checking back as we'll be adding more soon. 


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