Wayne Elderton: Reflections Inspired by Covid-19

Written by: Wayne Elderton

Wayne is Head Course Facilitator for Tennis Canada Certification in BC and the Tennis Director at the North Vancouver Tennis Centre. He is one of only 3 coaches in Canada who have both Coach 4 and Club Professional 3 certification. He has been a featured speaker at multiple ITF coaching conferences. Players he has coached have won over 20 national titles (junior & wheelchair ) many have gone on to Division 1 US scholarships and a few to ATP/WTA tennis.



There are a load of challenges and threats produced by this pandemic. The constant reports of outbreaks, economic misery and death tolls makes it justifiable to complain. However, there is another side to this that I prefer to focus on.

For many of us, we have been oblivious to the treadmill of busyness and activity we have been on. We are often not aware of the hamster wheel we are on until situations like COVID-19 causes us to pause and reflect.

This pandemic has changed many things. The inclination is to fight to get everything back to the way it was. However, experts from multiple fields tell us that things will never be the same. The talk is about ‘the new normal’.

To fully embrace this new landscape, we need to not be so quick to ‘get back to how things used to be’ (and the accompanying drive to get our players back there as well). Maybe, just maybe, back (although it may have been safe, comfortable and familiar) is not the direction we should put our energies towards

It is worth exploring which of these changes we need to embrace to navigate towards a new horizon that can possibly help us come out of this better in many ways than we went in.

The following is one of 5 key reflections that I have been pondering that the pandemic has brought to our attention that may provide opportunities that could possibly help us come out of this better in many ways than we went in.

Reflection #3:  The more we act as part of a bigger ‘community’ (rather than our separate ‘tribes’), the more the sport we love will thrive.

The pandemic has highlighted the value of creating community and the power of ‘together’. Unfortunately, the current age is more about what people are against than what unifies them. This is easy to see in politics or ideologies but, it even carries down to the competition between tennis clubs, academies, programs and individual coaches.

The exception is when we band together against something like a pandemic threatening everyone’s health and livelihood. How about, when this is over, we continue to be unified against things like the issues that contribute to people being unhealthy, or that eat away at character development, etc.  We can be unified in providing opportunities to stay active, build values and all the other ‘sport ideals’ that have been eroded over the years.

  • Pooling of resources and sharing of ‘best practices’ is increasing daily. Groups and individuals are pulling together for the benefit of everyone. They are getting a small taste that capitalism and competition can be tempered with community and cooperation. Imagine all stake-holders in tennis part of a community where the overarching goal is for all facilities, coaches and players to thrive?

What can we take to improve the future? Keep the alliances going! Create community.

  • What the pandemic has also shown us is the value of giving versus taking. Of service over self. At the start, it was disappointing. The hoarding and such as people defaulted to their base instincts (Who knew we really should have had a career path in toilet paper?) The more people pulled together for the good of everyone, the better it got. Maybe you don’t have to compete with other coaches for students. What a radical thought.

What can we take to improve the future? Start with the bigger picture. Be inspired by the quote below. See where you can contribute. You may have materials to give, people you can connect together, ideas to share, etc. Look for the opportunities to contribute & connect so others (and tennis) can flourish.

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of it’s members” – Coretta Scott King – Civil Rights Activist and wife of Martin Luther King

Reflection #1: Relationships are of greater value than the tasks we spend all our time on

Granted, there is nothing new about that and, it could even be considered cliché.  But, cliché doesn’t equate to untrue. For many of us, before the pandemic, the evidence of our lives demonstrated we didn’t live with that as a practical value.

For many, the technological convenience of platforms like Zoom have driven people to more communication with co-workers, family, and friends)  The pandemic has highlighted the value of deliberate connection.

Let’s explore two examples of how this applies to tennis coaches:

  • A number of coaching staffs have connected more than usual producing much more of a team atmosphere. Cooperation and joint creation & implementation of collaborative plans have become the norm.

What can we take to improve the future? Keep it going! Coaching teams are more effective than disconnected coaching staffs.

  • The coach/player connections have been strengthened by communication outside of regular training times. If the old adage is true, “A student doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”, then a lot of players are just realizing their coaches actually care, and they are not just a ‘technical project’ and a means to their coaches’ status and finances.  Also, the coach/player relationship drives the effectiveness of any learning.

What can we take to improve the future?  Understand that if you want your players to really embrace that new technique you want them to master? Care more!

The point is, because of the circumstances we now find ourselves in, we have prioritized making time for these connections and they are bearing fruit. We need to not let the tyranny of the urgent and the tasks that deluge us each day ever again steal from us what is important .

If you are interested in hearing the other 4 key reflections, join us for a TPA Webinar:
June 4, 2020 at 2:00pm EDT (11:00am PST)
Where: Zoom
Meeting ID: 2345093029

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