Product of our environments
Ok, so I am going to stick to my 15 minute rule here and type as fast as I can and highlight my main message.
A bunch of local coaches have a whatsapp thread, a great idea by the way. We use it for sharing events, news and the occasional debate about various things. The other day one of the coaches asked a great question on what percentages of overall play should be between individual lessons, squad coaching and free play. This article is not about that but for the record I think I said:
1 hour lesson
2 hours squad
2 hours practice
As many practice sets as you could possibly fit it.
We then started comparing opinions and inevitably the conversation started to talk about the good old days where we didn’t get hardly any coaching and we just played tons and tons of practice sets. Oh how I love my rose tinted spectacles!
I then said if I had my own coaching environment (for the first time in 24 years I don’t have a coaching base) I would do pretty much all large squad work. That way I could offer the players more time and help shape/form them much more than if I only see them one or two hours a week. I also added I would rotate my individual lessons so I could see more people less often as I view individual work as almost consultation.
Idea to throw out – if you are brave run a pilot day where you only take 20 minute lessons and bang out 3 in an hour. I did this once for a charity day and in 20 minutes I could have a look, analyse, explain what and why they needed to prioritise what I’d chosen and show them a few different ways to go practice it then next….
So back to topic. One of the coaches expressed the usual frustration we do about how tennis coaching has changed since we were lads blah blah blah. We’ve all been there, done that 1000’s of times over. I suggested that it was our fault as we are the leaders of our environment. We can only influence what is under our control so if you genuinely believe in something then change your environment to reflect that. Be pioneering and brave. Stamp your colours to your mast and commit 100% to what you believe in.
So this got me to thinking. If most are products of their environment, how much time does someone spend in your environment versus the other main ones which form their lives.
Home – I would guess the majority of children spend the bulk of their time in a home environment surrounded by their parents or guardians and perhaps siblings.
School – This may be closely followed by school and in some cases the school may be the place where they spend most of their time.
Social – This is an interesting one as this could tap into school, home, their social calendar and their tennis environment so it does take up quite a big slice of the pie
Tennis – Unless you are running a tennis academy I’m guessing the children will spend the least amount of time in your tennis environment.
So ask yourself how much can you really shape the mentalities, characters, life skills and tennis skills of your players?
If you genuinely wish to have a significant impact on their lives then you may have to make some changes to your environment to reflect this. Perhaps you could put on more large group coaching and training which doubles up as social time. Perhaps you could run more events where the parents are actively involved and get a chance to see your values and beliefs in action. God forbid, you could even run events specifically for the parents to help educate them on what you believe they could do to help foster great sporting mentality and character in their children. Wow, you could even speak with the school and find out what values they promote during their curriculum. Finally, you could hand pick the friends they hang out with an ensure they only hang around with thoroughly well rounded individuals…….. that was a joke by the way!!
So I guess what I’m saying is that as tennis coaches we really don’t get to spend that much time with our players in the grand scheme of things so why don’t we all try and max out on that time. I don’t believe spending an hour with just you and a child is the best use of that time. Surround them with their pals, create a hard working, smart thinking and enjoyable environment where they will naturally fall in love with the game and you know what? They will improve more quickly than getting the individual, they will be happier, make pals for life, you will be less stressed, maybe even make more money, grow your reputation as someone who genuinely cares for the masses and you will stay friends with these people for the rest of your life.
Dam, that took 20 minutes but I feel better after writing it and I hope you feel better after reading it.