What makes a great coach?

What makes a great tennis coach?  What qualities are you looking for as a player or a parent in your coach? If you are a coach, what do you need from the other coaches in your team?

As a coach myself for 20 years but now as an employer of a large team of tennis coaches, there are characteristics that I look for in the people I work with.  I know when I speak to other coaches, parents and tutors, there are a lot of common themes that come up.

Above anything else, good coaches care.  They care about their players, they care about their venue and they have a passion for the sport and for helping others.  When a coach cares and loves tennis, they can then inspire others and there is nothing more inspirational than someone who has genuine passion in any walk of life.  Coaches who care leave no stone unturned when it comes to supporting their players.  In my role as an employer of coaches, I look for this above all other factors.

This passion leads to coaches showing enthusiasm on-court, which brings energy to their sessions, making tennis fun and enjoyable.  This motivates others to start playing tennis but also to keep playing.  So many tennis coaches are role models for the children they teach, as well as for younger coaches, and it is so important that coaches embrace this and lead by example.   The ability to inspire others is so powerful and great coaches inspire their players to work hard, to compete and to keep going when things get tough.  The tennis journey is long and hard but having a coach by your side who believes in you and is there to help you is crucial for players to stay in the sport and to enjoy everything it has to offer.

Not all coaches are the finished product.  Just like tennis players, there are always areas you can improve and new skills to develop.  Coaches with a willingness to learn and who are humble enough to say when they need help will go far.  Coaches need coaches and the very best coaches aren’t afraid to collaborate with others or to mentor their colleagues. Coaches learn from other coaches, even more than they learn from courses and qualifications, and those coaches who don’t seek help or isolate themselves from their colleagues ultimately put a limit on how good they can be.

From my experience as a coach and as an employer, coaches who care, coaches who can inspire others and coaches who have a willingness to learn are those who can be the most very successful in this sport.  It is these personal skills that I look for when recruiting coaches at all levels of our programme. Yes, coaches need to be able to hit tennis balls and there are measures in place to ensure they can, but just because you are a good player doesn’t mean you will be a good coach. As an employer, it is the person I am looking for.  People coach people and coaching is all about people.

What characteristics do you look for in a coach? If you are a coach, what qualities do you want to bring to all your sessions? Let me know your thoughts…

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