Pierre ‘The Bear’ Lamarche: “How the present system promotes dissension with players, coaches and parents”

Fri, Nov 16, 2012


Pierre ‘The Bear’ Lamarche: “How the present system promotes dissension with players, coaches and parents”

Written by: Pierre ‘The Bear’ Lamarche


***Pierre Lamarche has been an outspoken proponent of Canadian tennis and how the sport should have a major place in the Canadian sport landscape. He believes this lofty ambition can only be achieved through the combination of success on the international professional competitive scene, with the required domestic infrastructure and a true partnership between Tennis Canada and the tennis private sector.

His comments are often taken as critical by those who feel targeted by his questions. His background as a player, coach, and leader [see background] in the sport and coaching industry warrants that his views, which are shared by many others, be given due process by anyone [or organization] who really wants to help Canadian Tennis achieve the proper national status it deserves in the sport community.***


Flaws: Part 1

dissension [dɪ'sɛnʃən] n
disagreement, especially when leading to a quarrel

Dissension is not a situation which is usually conducive to achieving success in any venture. So if the present Tennis Canada system does foster dissension we all must agree that a better solution should be found.

How does it create dissension amongst players? Well, let’s imagine your daughter does not get selected to a regrouping when she is 10 years old and her best friend who plays at the same club does. Her friend gets selected because she is smaller, faster and looks better. But your daughter is gangly, has played half the time, and is going through a growth spurt which makes her uncoordinated. Not only that, they are basically of the same level on the court. One gets access to the National Center system and the other does not.

Your child sees her friend who was her best hitting and training partner taken away from her three times a week for private lessons at the National Center, get other benefits and starts wondering what is wrong with her. She might even think of quitting because her best friend is not there, she actually resents her friend’s good fortune because she thinks it’s unjust. Is there a way of doing this talent ID better? Is the talent ID system valid? If not, what an injustice, no wonder it will lead to conflict.

“OK, it creates dissension with the players but how does it create conflict with the coaches?” Well your daughters friend’s coach, call him John, had been working with her for four years. Her parents were new to the country so John helped them out and charged her one lesson a week for the three he gave her. He took care of her as if she were family, spent a lot of time watching her develop, took coaching courses to better take care of her, raised money for her first trip to the nationals and simply was emotionally involved with this player. She had a great nationals, was spotted by a Tennis Canada coach, offered the opportunity to receive supposedly better services and better future opportunities and as a result her parents forced her to leave her coach for the National Center.

Private lessons, training and most importantly the promise of subsidised travel is a great lure for the parents. You can understand, how would you feel if you were John, after investing so much to have your project taken away from you without the National Center coaches ever contacting you. They [the National Center coaches] decided as a policy to communicate directly with the parents because they know the coach would not agree. So now they have created dissension with the private coach, as their behavior is unprofessional and helps foster a feeling of distrust between John and the parents. How does the kid feel in the middle of all this? You want to put your kid in this situation? But, then the National Center coaches will say that they are offering only a complementary program.

But the parents who pay at the National Training Center do not have any money for John’s lessons and training program. So John bites the bullet, teaches her for free, lets her play in the program for free. But then, John’s student shows up one day with a new serve. John loses it, especially when the national coach who makes the change does not communicate with him, and this same national coach used to be his assistant. Dissension to the tenth power.

Dissension with the parents is obvious, my child gets overlooked, I must choose between the coach that my kid loves and the money from the center, I must travel from Niagara to Toronto to be in the National Center program. Who is right? The national coach or the private coach? One says play the tournaments the other says don’t. The national coach says she needs a new serve implying the old one was not good. Who do I believe?

Dissension, mistrust, conflicts, this is good for a child’s development? There must be a better way.

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4 Responses to “Pierre ‘The Bear’ Lamarche: “How the present system promotes dissension with players, coaches and parents””

  1. 1
    George Kylar Says:

    How true the story is, it happens all the time and everywhere, what is the solution?

  2. 2
    Max Says:

    Hi, nice examples and important topics. I have some questions though. When you offer scholarships to players at your club, based on what objective criteria you grant them? I would assume that you can’t give scholarship to all players. How about the other kids at the club who think they deserve but haven’t received any scholarships even though they play at the same level or even better? Does it create dissension among the players of the same club? Isn’t it the same situation as you described in your example about creating dissension among players? My point is that it is difficult to make everybody equally happy and you have to select in such situations and I don’t see anything wrong with that.

    The situation you described with the coach- is it real one or hypothesized? Is this a typical situation that occurs commonly and do you know many examples of such coach player relationship (coach being almost a family member -then he must be happy that the player is successful)?

    I think it is not exactly true that National Training Center coaches take away players even not contacting their coaches. As I know the coaches are contacted. By the way, why do you think that communication with parents is less important than with coaches?

    Even though there are many good ideas to think about I am still not convinced why the current system should be totally changed? I am sorry to say that many ideas you mentioned are highly biased towards benefit of coaches and clubs and not towards players themselves. Probably I am confused about your objectives, please clarify if possible.

    1. Are you talking on behalf of coaches to Tennis Canada especially regarding the competiion from Tennis Canada? ( lost revenues, lost players etc.)

    2. Are you representing parents and trying to communicate their ideas to Tennis Canada and OTA? If so, how many parents have you met personally and discussed the situation? Are you sure that the parents you have met are representative of all different types of families and players?

    3. Why do you think that NTC players are selected unfairly? It seems that this is the main idea you are trying to communicate.

    What do you know about them- what do you know about their hearts and dreams, about how much commitment and passion these kids and their parents put into tennis? Do you think that they don’t deserve to be selected while getting up at 5 am and going to bed at 11pm and practically living in the car in between the courts, training and tournaments? Why do you think that everybody should get equal benefit while it is obvious that everybody puts different time and effort in what they are doing? Is it fair? Maybe these kids should be ashamed or feel guilty because they were selected? Have you looked at those players tournament results, ranking and level of playing? What other objective criteria are you proposing other than those I mentioned?

    As a parent I haven’t received any support and help from any clubs for my son’s development and even though NTC program is not solution and direct path to success, it gives at least some form of support for such parents.

    I truly hope that this forum is OPEN forum where everybody can express their ideas and not attacked personally. Thank you again for bringing up such important topics and giving chance to be heard.

  3. 3
    Max Says:

    I am sorry I haven’t read the 2nd article, many great ideas. Thanks.

  4. 4
    Todor Says:

    Hi Max you are saying you havent received any support from the Club your son is with,me neither,but have you received any support from TC?I think the Club is at least there for you,how about TC it is for me some virtual office that is available only for the priviledge,connected and informed.They organize some trials but try to keep them secret so less kids paricipate better for them.I think they should leave their offices and come to the courts and the clubs to see the kids,parents and coaches,talk to them and try to help them in one way or another.Todor

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