My children started their tennis lessons over three years ago when they were around 7 years old. As a beginner, I had tried to play tennis with them, that is to say throw the ball so that they catch it. However, given the time commitments, I decided to send them to group tennis lessons run by the local tennis organization in Singapore. Having taken group lessons for a few years now, I have had the opportunity to observe the type of attributes that a good coach would need:
I have found that the most critical element that a good tennis coach would need is great patience. This is important because most beginners may not know how to hit the tennis ball because not everyone is fortunate enough to have a good sense of the ball. Some just aren’t able to coordinate as well. Therefore, the tennis coach must be able to discern among those students who are more naturally inclined to ball games versus those who are not so naturally gifted. Having dealt with this problem, the right trainer will be patient when coaching different types of students. For young children, patience is especially essential. I have seen coaches show a “black” face after every practice session due to the frustration of not seeing their young loads being able to hit the ball. Such expressions of mild anger should not be shown.
2. Technical skills
It is always obvious. To be a good coach, you need to have a certain level of tennis. This can be understood over the coach’s years of play as a junior player. Plus, a good coach would take lessons and constantly improve. In Singapore, a qualified coach must have at least an STA Level 1 Coaching Certification. Therefore, always ask for your trainer’s qualifications. Don’t be shy because you are paying for his services.
3. Coaching experience
Nothing beats the experience. It cannot be bought or taught in school. Therefore, a good coach would generally be in the coaching business for at least 10 years or more. These are what you would call “seasoned” coaches. They would coach the school tennis teams, some also coach the elite youth teams or various group lessons for children by the STA. Again, ask your coach about their coaching experience.
4. Communication skills
This is very important because a coach with good communication skills is able to transmit his technical know-how to his charges in an effective and efficient manner. This will allow students to improve much faster. Therefore, always talk to your coach to see if you are able to understand or understand what he wants you to do.
5. Keen eye
A good tennis coach must also have a keen eye to be able to spot problems in his students’ strokes and therefore, be able to correct or adjust such tiny changes in strokes. A keen eye, in my opinion, is like a sixth sense. Good coaches would somehow be able to see things that someone else might not. They are also able to easily and simply communicate the recommended changes to students.
6. Positive, firm and encouraging
I find that a good coach must also always be positive and firm with his accusations. This will ensure that students take his teaching into account and improve accordingly. Being firm can sometimes be a “pain” and some parents or even adults may not be able to take the “hardness” of coaching. However, the coach must also be encouraging all the time. Nothing beats a positive word. It is the antidote of our soul.
Well, I sincerely hope that you can use the above as a checklist when evaluating or evaluating your future tennis coach. Good game!