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. For more information, please go to www.acecoach.com***
We have identified 4 main ‘pillars’ that are the foundation of advanced coaching:
- Learning tennis as an Open Skill
- Coaching in a Learner-centred way
- Utilizing a Game-based Approach
- Integrating the 4 Performance Factors (Psychological, Physical, Tactical, Technical)
This month, we are delving into the, “Integrating the 4 Performance Factors” pillar.
To keep the Performance Factors in view, ITF hall of fame coach, Louis Cayer (with expansion from top coach Larry Jurovich) have created a ‘vision/mission statement’ for players. Just like with a company, the ‘vision’ part gives us a picture of the preferred future. The ‘mission’ element makes sure we have this as our major purpose. We introduced the statement last month which reads:
“A Performer who is a Focused, Competitive Athlete that Plays Smart with Effective strokes.”
Our first look will be to see this statement as a whole. Coaches day to day duties are often about particular details of development. For example, on court today, I worked on such things as, improving the timing of a player for return of a fast 1st serve, return of serve footwork for a wide shot, ensuring a player was focused and relaxed by improving the way they breath in their shot during pressure points. The day to day details can be in any of the Performance Factors. The challenge is, that working with this fine detail can suck a coach into an ‘isolated’, ‘micro mode’. What gets lost is the ‘big picture’ of the player. When you have a sense of the ultimate goal, it makes it easier to see how all the details you are doing fit together. For the most part, experienced coaches who have taken players through the whole development path (from starter to high performance) have better ‘vision’ for their players. Often times, younger, less experienced coaches get trapped in the details. The statement helps less experienced coaches get the vision and experience coaches be more systematic.
Also, the big picture view ensures you have balance and are not letting a Performance Factor slide. For example, many coaches work on fine technical details over and over. To their (and the players) horror, these techniques may never be performed in a match. Especially under pressure. Our vision/mission statement guides us to keep the big picture in the forefront. The statement also give us a sense of priority. For example, the psychological elements are at the beginning of the statement for a reason. There is no use trying to fix a player’s swing path if their attitude isn’t on track. Tennis is a game that is played under the pressure of competition so being a ‘performer’ is a big priority. If they are unfocused, no amount of coach-forced hitting will get their mind in the game. Being pitted against an opponent also means they need to be a competitor. A nice follow-through is a useless thing if the adversity of a match prevents it from happening.
Reflect on your own coaching this week. Are you keeping the ‘vision’ of the player in mind? Are you making sure the detail work you are doing is adding together into a larger goal? Evaluate your players with the statement. Do you see a lack? What are the strong areas you develop as a coach?
In future installments, we will be looking at each of the key components of the statement in more detail.
Try this while you coach tennis this week and keep moving along in the journey to 21st Century coaching.