The 7 things you need to know before you select your tennis coach, so you don’t waste your time and money!
1. Qualifications and Recommendations (Word of Mouth)
One of the first things as a coach, is to go through the Tennis Australia Coaching accreditation process and become qualified, insured and screened. There are also plenty of professional development opportunities for coaches through Tennis Australia after their accreditation has been achieved. The next level of qualifications links to recommendations and/or a history of developing players. As part of the Project Talent, Tennis Australia are recognizing excellent, passionate coaches who specialize in the development of under 12 year olds. These coaches are a vital element in the athlete development pathway and now have the opportunity to be recognized as a Talent Development Coach. How does a coach get recognized as a Talent Development Coach?
- Be a Tennis Australia Coach Member
- Hold a current TA Club Professional, Level 3 or High Performance coaching qualification.
- Have a track record in the successful development of athletes. This is measured by athlete participation and performance in national level competition.
Word of mouth is one of the best ways to get some feedback on your prospective coach. If the coach has a track record (not only as a TDC with high end player development) in developing players, clubs and programs; it is highly likely they are able to impact your child. This is at all levels of tennis;
- the coaches enables development of motor skills at a beginner level (hot shots progressions)
- impacting a junior player to progress into local club junior competition
- a child who is progressing through the various tournament levels
Recommendations, social proof and results of other kids are a good start in selecting a coach.
2. Technical knowledge – Error detection & correction
For parents, without a tennis background, how do you asses the coaches technical knowledge, ability to error detect and develop you child’s game? First you must look at the type of coach they are (see the the following link about The Dictator, the Babysitter and the Teacher, Click here).
- Has the coach undertaken the right education process, and values ongoing development on himself and the coaching team (on and off analysiscourt)? Who are your coaches mentors and how did they acquire their knowledge?
- Does the coach teach your child so they have an understanding of the “why”, so you child is able to problem solve?
- Does the coach use Video Analysis, visual aids such as pictures and comparisons to help your child learn?
There is no one absolute way of teaching tennis, but there are key fundamental principals that need to be taken into account by the coach for all players of all levels.
- What is your coaches philosophy and are they strong in imparting their development plan for each individual as they progress?
- Is the coach passionate about teaching tennis and is all about the individual needs of the child?
3. Will the coach care about my child?
The coach / player relationship is pivotal in the selection on your coach. The student has to feel comfortable, welcomed and safe to interact with the coach and other students. A great way to know if your child is in the right environment is to have a free trial session or watch a couple of lessons being delivered at the club. You can also speak with others at the club while you watch.
As your child develops and starts to play competition and tournaments, does / will the coach watch the student play? Kids perform very differently from training to matches, and it important for the coach to see the player in different situations and pressures. It is also an opportunity for the coach to see if the development areas that have been worked on in practice are being implemented You don’t see Mick Malthouse not show up on game day.
4. Is the coach organised, professional, reliable & trustworthy?
These qualities are the little things that you should notice from the first time you have the opportunity to form an opinion. For the parent it will be things like; easy of communication, access to information, class organisation, consistent quality and is the coach passionate?. Other things you may notice about sessions are;
- what’s the coach to student ratio
- are the coaches in uniform, look & act professional
- do they know each child’s name
- are they set up before sessions
- do they have lessons plans
- is the coach always on time (start and finish times)
These are some of the little things that not only you as the parent will notice, but your child will also, and will impact on their experience.
5. Will the coach be a roles model for my child ?
The role of a tennis coach is not just teaching how to hit tennis balls but has many facets & will continue to change as the child ages and develops in skill level. Some of the key fundamental roles of the coach are;
- Increase self-confidence of players
- Help make the child more independent
- Teacher / Trainer / Motivator
- Friend / Confidant
- Role Model
6. How does the coach communication to your child and to you as the parents?
Communication is often what sets coaches apart in all sports, at all levels. There are many dimensions to effective communication but most of all the coach needs to be a two way communicator. This means they listen as well as speak and value non verbal communication The key things, as parents you should be looking for in effective communication towards your child are;
- Understand the purpose of the message
- A complete measure
- A consistent measure
- The communication is timely
- Has a positive approach, not judgmental
- The communicator has an understanding of the receiver
- Feedback (send & receive – two way)
The other aspect of communication with your coach is communication to you, as the parent. This needs to be open, honest and realistic. What is the best form and time, for communication between you and the coach? If you are not sure, ask, as during sessions coaches need the time to impact the child.
7. Are the session fun & in a welcoming environment?
This is an area you will be able to see as soon as you arrive at the venue. How are the coaches interacting with the children before they start their lesson? Are the kids engaged in their activities on court to continue stimulation through fun? The player will always learn more and develop faster when they are enjoying their time on court. This is another aspect where word of mouth and testimonials play an informative role.