Pierre ‘The Bear’ Lamarche: “Pot? Maybe, Hypocritical NO”

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.***


The phrase “The pot calling the kettle black” is an idiom used to claim that a person is guilty of the very thing of which they accuse another. As generally understood, the person accusing (the “pot”) is understood to share some quality with the target of their accusation (the “kettle”). So Mr Anonymous is insinuating that ACE Tennis and Tennis Canada are the same. You know what? He is right, we both are trying to make the game better in Canada. The intent has never been questioned, what is put up for discussion is how we go about it:

  1. Should the public sector [TC] be competing with the Private sector [academies] using public sector money?
  2. Is the program offered by the public sector [TC] better than the one offered in the private sector [academies]?
  3. If the player in the private sector is as good as the one in the public sector, should he receive training assistance as well?
  4. Are the players who choose to stay in the private sector [academies] discriminated against when competitive touring opportunities occur?

Mr A agreed that there could be some very valid points in #1, 2, 3 and 4 above. What Mr A was inferring is that academies do the same as Tennis Canada when it comes to poaching players from private coaches. He claims that academies like Tennis Canada provide incentives, such as subsidised training, to recruit gifted players from coaches who work in a private club environment.

You must understand that young players have different needs as he or she is developing. Dr. Benjamin Bloom pointed out in his research how developing athletes, artists and scholars required different types of teachers at different times of their development. This is not to say that one coach cannot develop a player through the whole process but that simply the child can make greater improvements if the style and delivery of the coach changes with the stages of development of the person.

For a tennis player to attain success he requires the following:

1. Proper coaching, as described above [quality]
a. Qualified
b. Experienced
c. Athlete centered
2. Proper environment
a. Amount of training available [on court and off]
b. Complementary areas of development
i. Mental
ii. Physical
iii. Injury management
iv. Career management
c. Quality of players to train with
i. Players that are better
ii. Players of the same level
iii. Role models
3. Proper competitive opportunities
a. Volume
b. Quantity
c. Affordable

What happens if a very good coach [1.a.b.c.] with two courts keeps on developing the best under 12 players in his area, but he does not have [2.a.b.c.]? If he is a coach who cares about his player, he will find the proper environment for his budding star. That might mean for him a] to change his own coaching environment [not always that easy, finding a new club which provides the necessary environment and which is accessible to the player], [b] to create his own proper environment [all coaches dream of this but few have the resources to do so] or c. find a situation where the player he coaches can train somewhere else and receive the volume required.

That environment can be an academy, where the coach remains the coach and where the player trains outside with his personal coach. In our academy, the content of training is mostly tactical, mental and physical. Players in our academy have their own coaches who are responsible for their technical game style development. That coach can be someone from the academy or as it happens, a coach who works together with the player and the academy. It is not the best situation but it works and if there is cooperation between the academy and the coach.

Many academies provide scholarships and most of them are based on need. Bringing a quality player to a program certainly enhances the training environment for other players while providing the scholarship player with the proper environment. If a player and coach are satisfied with his present training environment, there is no reason for him to attend an academy.

This is not the same as Tennis Canada which through the use of public development funds, recruits youngsters to receive subsidised coaching because it infers the present coaching is not satisfactory. One, the academy provides the training environment, while the other [TC] uses public funds to provide “better coaching”, which is available only at their center. No offense but many of the private coaches are as capable as the designated TC coaches. Think about this, a deserving player from Ottawa or London would have to travel three times a week to the National Center in Toronto to receive three private lessons from a TC coach. Would it be possible to do it in a more cost efficient manner by giving the money to the coach who has developed the player to work with them on a more frequent basis?

Recruiting by academies that subsidize youngsters in need of a training environment is quite different than Tennis Canada recruiting youngsters who are in a proper training environment, using the perks of free private lessons [from public funds] and competitive travel as an enticement to leave their academy or coach… so hypocritical? No, calling the kettle black, maybe.

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Update on UK Tennis Situation with Master Louis Cayer

I would like to share a mindset I instil in all the players I coach, one I believe has greatly influenced all of the player’s performances; “whatever happens, I can handle it.” This mindset is achieved through a systematic, tactical development process, so that whoever the opponent, whatever the surface, regardless of the environment, or scoring, the players can, and will rise to the challenge as it is presented.