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.”
In this installment, we will look at the specific definitions of each of the components. To fully understand them, it will take a lot of ‘unpacking’. We will do this in subsequent newsletters. The definitions have been fleshed out by top coach Larry Jurovich. These provide a framework to create learning activities and drills to develop each of the characteristics.
- Performer: “The ability to play up to your expectations of yourself under pressure.”
- Focused: “The ability to concentrate on the right things, at the right time.”
- Competitive: “The ability to maintain full effort under adversity.”
- Athlete: “Possessing the physical skills to be able to play effectively and efficiently.”
- Plays Smart: “Able to make effective decisions based on game-style, strategy and tactical variables.”
- Effective Strokes: “Ability to hit effective strokes with efficiency.”
The first three psychological characteristics are the vision for developing the person. The following three are to develop the player.
We don’t play tennis with only our technique. We bring our whole person on court. When we do well, it is because we manage all our elements (Feelings, physicality, emotions, thoughts, tactics, techniques, etc.). If the person doesn’t have the characteristics to handle the ‘battle’ of the match, they could play poorly (even if they have superior technical skills). If the player doesn’t have the skills to play successfully at their level, it also can result in poor play.
Think about your players with these characteristics in mind. What are their strengths and weaknesses? Have you spent time mostly developing the player, to the exclusion of the person, or vice versa? We just had a number of our center’s players competing at junior nationals in all the age divisions (and brought home some top ten finishes and a national title). It makes it easier for us to see where our work needs to be focused with this grid. For some of our players, their skills were great but the pressure overcame their ability to maintain and utilize what they have. We need to work with them to bring out a stronger person on court. For others, they competed well but their technical skills are not at the level they need to be (e.g. generating enough power to consistently attack when appropriate). For others, their technique was good but their tactics were suspect. We need to work with these ones to bring out a stronger player on court.
Try this while you coach tennis this week and keep moving along in the journey to 21st Century coaching.