How to find a tennis coach? Finding a quality tennis coach can be a difficult task. Therefore we provide you with objective criteria to evaluate the candidates.
As a general rule of thumb: Do not listen to what people say, look at their accomplishments!
For example, many coaches will lie by claiming to have worked with professional players because they know many people are impressed by hearing big names.
To avoid any costly mistakes, any final decision needs to be made based on solid and objective research information to evaluate the potential coach.
Factors such as a coach’s:
- Level of Education
- Work Ethic
- Career Achievements (if any)
form the basis for the coach’s evaluation and facilitate the decision-making process.
At the end of the day you have to decide which criteria are most important to you, also referred to as the minimum requirements.
Find A Tennis Coach Example: Determine Minimum Requirements
- Bachelor’s in Exercise Science (or related)
- USPTR certified: Professional 1 level
- Highly committed
- Continuously improves player rankings
- Previously coached top 50 national junior players
- Former NCAA Division I college player
Level of Education
When it comes to education take a look at the potential coach’s completed level of education and if he or she received the certification from an accredited institution.
Why is that important you may ask?
The coach’s completed level of education by an accredited institution is significant since it is objective, meaning the candidate met established university minimum requirements, and for most people it is the foundation for a successful career.
It also means that the potential coach had the determination to get through 4+ years of university classes. It means that they set out to achieve something and they started and finished the job.
Furthermore, if someone has a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science (or related) from an accredited US university then he/she has been exposed to:
- Exercise physiology
On the other hand it doesn’t mean that someone with a degree is a genius and someone without one is an idiot but it is one criterion that helps you to find a tennis coach you are looking for.
So, how can you verify if someone truly has a degree? All you need to do is request an Official Transcript from the potential coach. All the coach needs from you is your name and address.
The coach will get in touch with the university, request that the official transcript be sent to your address, and pay a fee (usually, $10-$15) to the university.
You will receive a sealed envelope by the university in the mail within a few days with the official transcript, which will show the individual’s name, courses taken each semester, grades attained, and overall grade point average (GPA).
If you are not sure if a university is accredited you can check out a new database of accredited academic institutions, posted by the U.S. Department of Education at http://www.ope.ed.gov/accreditation.
- Is the tennis coach certified by a national tennis teaching organization (e.g. USPTA or USPTR)?
- How many certifications does he/she have?
- What level did they accomplish?
Again, it doesn’t mean that certified tennis coaches are “better” than someone without a license but it is an indication that they take teaching seriously.
If a tennis coach possess more than one license means that he/she is open to different ways/methods to accomplish something – being open-minded to different approaches.
Find A Tennis Coach In Your Area
Also, most national teaching organizations allow you to search for tennis coaches in your neighborhood or by other criteria you deem important.
For example USPTR’s “Find-a-Pro” or USPTA’s “Find-a-Coach”.
Almost every person you talk to on the circuit is a genius and has coached top 10 players and of course can help you…but then reality sets in.
Tennis is one of the few sports worldwide, where unqualified coaches can keep well-paying jobs for years because being successful is not a necessity in order to keep the job but knowing the right folks is.
If it was for their coaching ability or work ethic most of these tennis coaches would have been fired long ago.
If you get a chance, observe a training session and look for the following:
How the tennis coach does his/her job?
- is he/she on time?
- does their approach make sense to you?
- Do they have a plan for what they try to accomplish or do they just do the same routine all the time?
- Are they engaging when they teach – do you feel the coach cares if the student learns something
Now, why are these things important you may ask?
Being on time is a matter of respect and discipline.
Player development is a complex step-by-step process, like building a house, which needs to make sense (e.g. 1st developing comprehensive stroke production).
If the coach has a plan for player development shows that he/she took the time to sit down, think about what they want to accomplish and find ways to implement a desired outcome.
When an architect builds a house, he/she makes a plan, which is then being implemented. Although architects have built many houses, they don’t just wake up one day and start building a house without a plan!
If they are engaging means that they want you to get better, not just getting paid.
Tennis Coach’s Physical Appearance
Do they suffer from the fat-and-happy syndrome? Meaning, are they in good physical shape themselves for their age or are they 25 pounds overweight?
Why is that important you might ask…well, for once, it’s a matter of self-discipline.
As a coach, one cannot expect from the student to work out hard, eat right, etc. but can’t do it themselves. They should do themselves what they are preaching.
Was the coach able to improve his/her past players without injuries?
This is the most important factor. Take a look at players the coach previously worked with.
Did they improve overall or only a particular segment of their game? Did they stay injury free? Was the improvement:
If you don’t know any previous players take a lesson to find out if the coach was helpful to you…did you learn anything?
If you took a lesson but didn’t learn/improve anything then you wasted your time and money!
Personality & Coaching Style
Apart from the aforementioned, it is essential to be on the same page on a personal level. Coach and player should trust each other and get along personally in order to have success.
It is very important because coach and player will spend a lot of time, especially if they are traveling to tournaments together.
Also, what coaching style do you prefer? Can you find a tennis coach like that in your area?
Are you looking for a coach who can communicate well and is a friend to you or do you prefer someone who is tough and authoritarian?
You need to determine what kind of coach fits to you.
- Referent: they have exceptional knowledge (guru status) and teach well but they might not be able to do it well themselves (e.g. don’t play tennis well); they communicate well and effectively present solutions
- Authoritarian: Limited communication/dialog occurs between coach and player; coach dictates training components and expects player to simply follow instructions; military style; can be very effective but no fun
- Lead by Example: The coach can play well (e.g. former tour player) and becomes a role model for the athlete
Regardless which personality-type you chose, verbal and/or physical abuse at any time by the tennis coach is unacceptable!
Find A Tennis Coach: Career Achievements
This one is a bit tricky and one should use Vladimir Lenin’s approach:
Trust is good, control is better.
Many coaches will lie about their career achievements! Therefore, take the time and effort and double-check everything you can.
Get in touch (e.g. facebook, e-mail) with some of their “former players” and find out first hand if the coach really worked with them or just hit some balls once for 5 minutes.
If you consider a tennis coach that already has a “big name” then take a look at when they were successful and how many players they developed into top players.
- Were they successful 20 years ago or recently?
- Did they “only” coach one top player or a few?
- What style of play (e.g. serve & volley) did their player(s) have?
- How many players does the coach currently work with?
- Do you feel that the coach is still as hungry for success as you are?
The dynamics of tennis have changed over the years and the coach needs to evolve with these changes if he/she wants to stay successful and develop talented players.
If the coach had numerous top players indicates that he/she understands how to maximize the athlete’s potential instead of forcing the player to commit to a certain style of play.
Also, it is almost impossible to coach more than 3 athletes at a time so that each one of them receives the attention and quality training they deserve.
Many tennis academies are run by former tour players or coaches but they weren’t able to help others to become top players on the tour. Yet, they are charging well for their services!
There are also many promising coaches out there that are very qualified but didn’t have the opportunity yet to work with a good junior – or professional player.
So they don’t have former players to show for but would invest a lot of time and energy to make you a better player.
Most often this is a good approach because it mutually benefits player and coach.
Regardless of whom you chose as your tennis coach, the most important criterion is that you stay healthy and continuously improve.
You have to give things some time but if you are working with someone and you don’t show improvements in e.g. 6 months then things need to change.
Or if you show improvements but you are injured rather frequently during the season then the coach bears some responsibility as well.
At the end of the day you have to decide, based on the aforementioned factors, who the best coach is for you. That’s how you find a tennis coach.