For years, I have been practically begging junior tennis coaches to create a written set of guidelines for the families who hire them. I have posted various suggestions for what to include. I’ve even emailed coaches directly with ideas and examples of Agreements and Evaluations that my son has received. And, while I’ve heard of a few coaches who have adopted the practice of using this type of written “contract,” the majority still leave things totally up in the air when it comes to what they expect from the player and parents and what the player and parents can expect from them.
One coach, Steve Whelan (click here for Steve’s website), from the UK has created EXACTLY what I’ve been promoting. I’ve shared his work on the ParentingAces Facebook and Twitter feeds but got his permission to reprint it in its entirety here so you can share it with your child’s coach. To the coaches out there, Steve is happy for you to “borrow” his guidelines and tweak them to suit your needs. By the way, Steve will be the guest on my radio show on Tuesday, April 14th, in case you want to hear more about his coaching philosophy. Coach Steve, thank you!
Ten things we tell our parents who take their children to competitions
1. Try and travel with fellow players – it saves money and takes pressure of players who feel they are competing as a team.
2. If you can’t watch with out a poker face or your mouth closed – don’t watch.
3. If under 10 go grab a coffee and let them play. It’s about playing at this age, take pressure of players by watching from distance.
4. Make sure players have a list of SMART goals . These can be agreed with a coach before the event.
5. Ensure players arrive at the event in good time and have a proper physical warm up with dynamic stretches, explosive footwork patterns and a full racket warm up . Arrange with a fellow player in advance to warm up . If you don’t know anybody in the draw ask the referee to send out your contact details and request a hitter.
6. Nutrition – make sure pre and post match meals are suitable as well as staying hydrated.
7. Learn how to match chart – match charting is simple and can provide a lot of ACTUAL feedback for your coach. Sometimes parental feedback is based on one or two good / bad points they remember. A match chart highlighting match flow or errors can help give your coach the bigger picture.
8. Make sure the player gets in a routine of packing their own bag pre event. Also players should carry their own bags too and from the car . Players need to learn how to be independent quickly in tennis – this is a good starting point at an early age.
10. Don’t use ‘it’s not about winning’ garbage! Tennis is a sport , it’s competitive and we play to win . But winning comes in many forms not just winning the match. Winning may be completing your player goal of making a % of first serves, winning x amount of points of short balls. Use player goals to set realistic targets with a focus on performance and not outcome.
What you can expect from the coaches
1. Professional – Our coaches aim to be the very best in terms of their behaviour and appearance.
2. We are here for YOU – are goal is to make you better, your coach will work with you as an individual and help you achieve your goals.
3. Your coaches will be prepared and have the appropriate equipment and resources each session.
4. Every session will be planned, organised and delivered with the goal of making you a better player.
5. The coach will make it clear at the start of the lesson the learning objectives of each session and how you’re going to achieve them.
6. The coach will ensure each lesson is challenging enough so your progress but not too difficult so you lose confidence.
7. The coach will feed back to you your progress as and when appropriate.
8. The coach will end each session with a recap of the learning objectives and what you have learnt.
9. The coach will keep you up to date with events, sessions and activities you may wish to take part in.
Ten things we expect from our players (As taken from our 2015 player syllabus)
1. Players arrive on time for lessons.
2. Players come with the correct equipment and clothing suitable for tennis. It is the player’s responsibility to be prepared.
3. Players are fully aware and clear of their own personal goals and targets set out for them in the program. This will come in the form of their player goal sheet.
4. Players step onto court with a positive attitude and a willingness to learn and improve. This includes listening to demonstrations, asking appropriate questions, and trying to the best of their ability in each session.
5. Players enjoy playing the game and are able to react to the pressures of winning and losing in a positive manner. At Pro Tennis Academy we do not accept racket, ball or verbal abuse at any time.
6. Players are focused during lessons and activities.
7. Players are competitive and play to win or play to improve personal goals and targets. Winning is important, but winning comes in many forms not just winning a match.
8. Players are athletic, not only in performance but in terms of physical effort during activities.
9. We are a team here at Pro Tennis Academy, we help each other, support each other and encourage each other. T.E.A.M =TOGETHER , EVERYONE, ACHIEVES , MORE
10. Be the best you can be.