I’m talking about the areas of expertise of a quality tennis coach and explain why it is important to have that expertise.
In last week’s episode I talked about problems with fitness testing for tennis players and how to correct them.
- I define who a quality tennis coach is
- I talk about the scientific areas a great tennis coach should be familiar with
- Proof of competency
- Why it is important to have that expertise
- I provide a sample scenario
Did you know that less than 10% of all NCAA Div I coaches have a proof of competency in sports science or related?
Yet every job description requires a Bachelor’s in Exercise & Sports Science or related at a minimum!
A quality tennis coach is someone who can continuously improve or develop the player’s abilities WITHOUT injuring the athlete, since the best athlete is the one that is healthy.
With reference to the aforementioned definition, the quality of coaching in tennis is questionable, especially in organizations that proclaim to be great in player development, such as NCAA Div I schools, national associations or various tennis academies around the globe.
Don’t believe it? Pay attention to how many tennis players have to withdraw from tournaments each week due to injury and take a closer look at the proof of competency of the tennis coaches.
Areas of Expertise
The main reason is that many coaches are simply uneducated in key scientific areas as they relate to coaching. If a coach doesn’t know about:
- stroke production
- exercise physiology
- sports nutrition
- sports psychology
then he/she cannot be a quality coach according to the definition. Knowledge of anatomy, exercise physiology, kinesiology and sports nutrition are imperative for injury prevention purposes.
Proof of Competency
One could argue “that you can educate yourself in all of these fields without a degree from a University. You may not be able to prove you have educated yourself without the actual degree but a good coach is constantly looking to improve and is constantly reading and studying to do just that.”
True but if you work with top juniors or professionals and claim to be a great tennis coach proof of competency is desirable.
Also, why spending all the time and money trying to learn all these things without gaining a proof of competency especially when schools outside the US don’t charge as much tuition?
If one had to pick a financial adviser would one choose someone who has no proof of competency in the field of finance but has some work experience?
The point is that in the world of tennis, unlike in other professions, a quality education and proof of competency are not required in order to work at the top level.
It is surprising that tennis coaches in the top academies and even on tour have limited knowledge of exercise science principles and other components that are important for a successful career as a tennis coach.
As a result many kids don’t even have a chance for success because their coaches’ expertise is limited. For example, there are NCAA Div 1 coaches who don’t know the difference between carbohydrates, proteins and lipids.
Another reason is that the cooperation between the various coaches is limited. In reality, the tennis coaches, strength & conditioning coaches and athletic trainers are rarely on the same page.
Instead every coach is doing their job without actively communicating to each other, which can cause problems such as overtraining.
For example, the athlete drills for 2 hours on the tennis court with the tennis coach and performs 200 serves.
Then the player has a break and goes on to do fitness with the strength & conditioning coach for 1 ½ hrs, who is working out hard with the player because the athlete needs to be in great shape.
Then he/she goes for massage, where the athlete tells the athletic trainer that he/she experiences soreness in the shoulder.
The athletic trainer massages the area and provides some treatment recommendations to the athlete.
Now if the various coaches don’t communicate well amongst each other then each of the coaches believes that they are doing a good job with the athlete but the athlete ends up being injured all the time because, collectively, the training is too much for the athlete although the coaches’ intentions were good.
In order for effective communication to occur, the coaches should have a common knowledge base so that they are able to understand each other and adjust training variables accordingly.
For example, if the athletic trainer tells the tennis coach that the player has problems with muscle x, y, and z but the tennis coach doesn’t know which muscle is responsible for a particular movement then the athlete can aggravate the muscles and worsen the situation during tennis training on the court.
Therefore, having a solid understanding of the aforementioned scientific areas is desirable for all coaches, including tennis coaches. Because having that expertise allows for more effective training and allows the athlete to progressively improve without battling injuries.
If you want to learn more about exercise science principles as they relate to tennis take a look at “Advanced Concepts of Strength & Conditioning for Tennis”.