When it comes to the coach and student relationship why do some last for years and some last for weeks. Some coaches have guided their charge from the day they first picked up a racquet, have guided them to the professional tour and have formed almost a parent-child type relationship along the way creating an unbreakable bond.
Whilst some players change coaches on a regular basis, always on the look out for someone to help take their game to the next level. So, which way is the best? Is there a best way or is each individual different and we should examine each player on a case-by-case basis?
Traditionally when a player first started their journey, they would have some lessons at their local club finding their feet in group or private lessons.
They would then start working more and more on their game and once they made the decision to dedicate themselves to getting the most out of their ability would attach themselves to a coach, they felt could help them achieve their goals.
Once they have decided on a coach they like, respect, and trust they hang on every word the coach says and will follow their instructions without question. This approach is a massive undertaking by all concerned.
The parents and student need to have utmost trust that the coach has the all the skills and knowledge that is required to help them achieve their goals and if they don’t, they have a strong enough relationship that the coach will tell them they have taken them as far as they can with the knowledge and experience they have and can advise them on a coach who can continue their development.
The flipside to this approach is the student who changes coaches regularly. There are a variety of reasons that players take this path. There is the ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ approach. Players see who their peers are working with, and they have had recent success so they think they can achieve the same results with them, some people think that having lessons with several different coaches, footwork sessions, squad hitting, and mental training will give them the most information possible so, they will have access to all the answers.
Another popular approach is the ‘buying success’ model. Players think if they spend the most money on equipment, lessons, training aids, fitness training that it will automatically guarantee success.
One of the main reasons for a change of coach on the professional tour is that players feel they may miss out on their opportunity to achieve their career goals if they stay too long in a relationship that isn’t bearing fruit immediately.
So, they ask themselves if it is worth the risk staying with someone believing their fortunes will change or do they jump ship and look for a better alternative as they have a small window of opportunity to make a comfortable living.
Is there a right way, a wrong way or a way that has been historically more successful? Whilst I don’t know the statistics to confirm either approach is the best, one thing I do know has been proven is that no player in the history of the game has made to the top without the same key element: hard work. That underpins everything a professional tennis player does both on and off the court.
Unfortunately, as much as we have all looked, yearned, and wished for over the years there is no magic pill. There is no doubt whoever invents one will become a multi- millionaire but until that time the only way to give yourself the best chance of success is the same as it has always been and that is good, old fashioned hard work.