Today’s Guest Post is from Coach Todd Widom:
I cannot speak for the rest of the country, but where I train my students in South Florida, there is an overabundance of tennis coaches and academies. One month a particular player is with one coach and a month later they are with a different coach or even at a different academy. They just cannot stay put and they bounce around to multiple coaches or academies. This is a sure way to not have your child progress in tennis.
I was blessed to have the same coach from when I was 6 years old to the time I retired at 26 from the ATP Tour. That’s right, I started as a beginner and I stayed with the same coach for 20 years. You are most likely saying to yourself that you think that it is extremely rare for this to ever happen and you would be right. This is rare.
When you watch a true tennis coaching professional, they can teach all aspects of the game to help that particular player achieve their goals and dreams. When you find this person, you do not switch coaches. It is very rare to find a coach that can teach proper technique, movements, discipline, etc. Just ask Rafael Nadal, James Blake and many others. You will see it is also crucial to have a bond with your coach. This is where the true development takes place because there is a strong trust between both student and professional.
I can definitely understand why a student and parent would want to leave their current coaching situation. There could be crucial aspects that are not being or have not been addressed and this particular player could be stalling in their tennis development or regressing in their tennis development. If you would like your child to be a high level tennis player, you cannot go through periods where the child is not getting what they need as there is no time to waste.
As a parent, you must do your research into who is going to guide you and your child to achieving their goals and dreams. You will be investing many hours and money into this process and there should be no time wasted to be making uneducated or uninformed decisions into who is going to be guiding your child to their goals and dreams. Just know that anyone can make a website, get a bucket of balls, find a tennis court, and coach tennis. That is how easy it is to coach tennis in this country. You will know a true professional when you see it, as they will be a role model, design a plan for how your child will achieve their goals and dreams, and help you the parent through this tennis process of development through many levels and years. The professional will show up every day ready to help your child improve their tennis skills over many years.
Multiple coaches do not work, whether you have multiple coaches at your academy or you hop around to different coaches in your area. Many coaches can look at players and know how to cure some issues in the student’s game, but all it takes is different terminology to confuse and destroy that particular player’s progress. To become great at tennis it takes a tremendous amount of discipline and consistency, day in and day out, with the same person if you want steady progression. You cannot get this with multiple coaches and multiple coaches working on different aspects of your tennis game.
Poor habits are difficult to break for any player at any level. It takes a tremendous amount of structure, discipline, and repetition to break poor habits in one’s tennis game. For example, if a player needs something significantly fixed in their game from a technical perspective, I can tell you from experience that it will take somewhere between six months to a year to fix that certain stroke. Also keep in mind that it can take this amount of time and you must work on it every day with the same coach until the stroke becomes a good habit. The way you can tell if the stroke is fixed is if the child can bring it out in a tournament and trust it under that type of stress in a tournament situation. This is just one example of why having instability in your child’s tennis training will be instrumental in generating poor results. It does not matter how established these multiple coaches are, your child will not progress at the rate they should, or even at all, if there is not one voice in the players tennis career.