Written by: Wayne Elderton
***Wayne Elderton is acknowledged as one of Canada’s leading coaches. He is Head of Tennis Canada Coaching Development and Certification in British Columbia. In this role, he has provided coaching training to over 1500 coaches. He is a main contributor to the Tennis Canada Coaching Certification program and has also written articles and coaching materials for the PTR, Tennis Corporation of America, Tennis Coaches Australia, and the International Tennis Federation. He is a popular speaker at coaching conferences world-wide. He is a Chartered Professional Coach (ChPC) as recognized by the Professional coaching association, Coaches of Canada. Wayne has enjoyed considerable success in his career using the Game-Based approach. As a High Performance coach, he has led provincial teams to gold medals in the Canada and Western Canada Games. His players have won numerous national titles and many have achieved full scholarships at US Universities. Some have gone on to achieve WTA and ATP rankings. He has also coached 3 wheelchair players to top 10 world rankings and has coached Canada’s World Team Cup squad (Davis Cup for Wheelchair players). He is a key builder of the Canadian National Wheelchair Team program and created Tennis Canada’s Wheelchair Instructor Course. In 2006 he was inducted into the City of Burnaby Sports Hall of Fame in the coaching category. He is currently Tennis Director at the Grant Connell Tennis Centre in North Vancouver which was awarded the 2005 Canadian Facility of the Year for program excellence by the Tennis Professionals Association.***
ONcourt: Where did your interest in coach formation come from?
Wayne Elderton: I have always had a passion for coaching and helping people. Coaching coaches was the next logical step in the career path. Louis Cayer really ignited my passion for coaching and coach development way back in 1988 as he had an approach that made so much sense and blew away my misconceptions about tennis coaching.
ONcourt: Who are the people world wide and in Canada which have assisted in developing your overall philosophy?
WE: As I mentioned Louis was my #1 motivation. I also loved the parallel work done by Frank Van Fraayenhoven of the Netherlands. They both started me looking at modern learning theory and methods. I especially appreciate the work done by Joan Vickers of U of Alberta on decision-training.
ONcourt: How much time do you spend on research and writing?
WE: I am usually involved in writing materials for Tennis Canada and other organizations. If something looks interesting or, I feel I can contribute, I usually bang something out.
I am not sure how much time (probably too much) as when you are excited by something, the time flies and you don’t keep track.
ONcourt: What satisfies you the most about that type of work?
WE: I love the fact that it is all about people. In tennis, we tend to get caught up with the ‘stuff’.
We coach (newest techniques, etc.) but what if I find more interesting is the way people learn and transform. If we get better at the process of coaching, we can be far more effective at conveying the ‘stuff’ we coach.
ONcourt: Is Canadian coaching getting better?
WE: I believe we have gone through some excellent evolutions. But, like all changes, they were not without growing pains, nor were they perfect. The certification and education courses are constantly improving. For example , I would put out our 35 hour instructor course up against any 35 hours of the first level coaching training from any country. I believe our challenge is the continuing education and development. If a coach learns great stuff in a course but goes back to an unsupportive home coaching environment, they will lose all they learned. What happens in their day to day coaching experience is just as (or more) important than the courses but we have no control over it. To really make our coaching better, we need to somehow address this.
ONcourt: Do you think we have the caliber of coaches necessary to develop top world class players?
WE: We have to keep in mind that this is not the mandate or job of the majority of coaches in the country. To work full-time, you need to be a club professional. Your job becomes more about fulfilling the mandates of the club and its clients rather than making top players. I think performance coaching is a different skill set, yet we have expected coaches to do that job automatically. It is only recently we have separated out the performance coaching stream and trained coaches for adequate amounts of time in performance competencies (e.g. the new coach 2 and 3 are over a year long with 25+ training days). The more coaches trained in this path, the better off we will be. Having said that, looking at what goes into making top players, we have way bigger issues than coaching that need to be addressed.
Coaching tends to be a convenient ‘scape-goat’ to blame for lack of players but to do that shows a narrow understanding of the development picture.