Connecting with Players

The coach / player relationship is one of, if not the most important ingredients to success for a player.

To form a successful relationship, a coach needs to understand their player and as always, tailor their coaching style, including communication methods and delivery methods, to say more while speaking less.

Confused? Maybe. That’s ok. Am I always right? Probably not, but these are my experiences both on the pro tour, junior tour, college, and local players.

Regardless of what country the player is from, or what cultural, language and lifestyle differences the coach and player have, connecting on a deeper level than forehands and backhands while always break down any relationship barriers.

Critical things a coach needs to research or ascertain quickly when working with a new player can include: Age, Interests on and off court, Pain threshold in practice, language barriers, parent/family values, and Tennis IQ.

Coaches dont need to rush out and create marketing campaigns or speak out of character using words and expressions that are not at the core of who they are and what their coaching philosophy is all about. If they understand their player, good coaches will always be mindful of what they say and how they say it.

In my experience, keeping up with social trends has helped ‘break the ice’ with players of all levels in times where a player needs support. Social trends such as movies, TV shows, music, pop culture, food, cars, and much much more are very helpful. The list is actually endless.

As I’ve said before, when traveling with a player on tour, the relationship is fickle and an absolute roller coaster. Winning and losing is all that matters to an established mature player. It’s pretty easy when you are winning. But when things aren’t going so well, that’s what tests even the most solid relationships.

What you and your player do on days off, where you eat, religion (temple or church visits), shopping, and watching other sports are often one of the first things I like to understand about the player I’m working with.

This helps me plan ahead when things are going well or not so well.

Like I said, some coaches are stricter than me and probably look at other things such as statistics, match data, and other tangible things to connect and have a mutual understanding with a player. This isnt wrong. In fact, some players probably prefer this.

Regardless of the connection style a coach tries, the core of any connection is respect and honesty.

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