I bet your wondering where I am going with this blog?
A colleague of mine recently, affectionally, referred to me as a cockroach. Perhaps you are wondering how on earth it is possible to affectionally call someone a cockroach. I asked exactly the same question.
He explained, cockroaches apparently would survive a nuclear war. I don’t know if this is true or not before you start questioning it but my colleague went on to explain his thinking. He suggested that there are certain people who, no matter what happens, will survive any change to their environment and he believed that I was one of those people. He was referring to the tennis world of course as I am definitely not equipped to deal with a nuclear war.
This got me to thinking about an idea I’ve had for a few years….
Picture a map of the country you live in and now imagine doing very simple research which shows where the coaches who, over the years, have consistently been involved in the development of tennis players. Put a pin in these places, then ask the coaches if they would like to be involved in a coach development programme where they would be paid to help coach or mentor any coach in their area who wants their help. Do this over several years with the sole purpose being to create more pins in the map.
Think of the area you currently coach or play tennis in and I guarantee you there are coaches who regularly churn out the best players in this area. Imagine there was an open doors policy in place where any aspiring coach could go and shadow these coaches for free. Over time this on the job training would naturally start to rub off on the aspiring coach. They could then set about replicating the principles and methods that suited their own personality. My guess is, over time, these coaches would start to develop their own batch of players and become respected coaches in their own right.
Then we invest in this new wave of coaches and start the process again….
In my opinion, there is no reason why this can’t happen for FREE. In my line of work I am frequently told it is hard to find quality coaches to help on their coaching programmes. My response is the same every time, what are you doing about it? The answer is often very little.
I believe we have an opportunity to have an open doors policy for aspiring coaches to come into our coaching environments and learn from our experiences. This would have many advantages:
- Natural character ID – if someone is willing to give up their time for free then they clearly have learning as one of their core values. This is a solid indication of whether they could fit into your programme.
- Does their character fit – this provides you with an opportunity to get to know the coach and see whether their values and attitudes are similar to your own. You could build an effective working relationship with the coach which could result in them fitting into your team.
- Extra pair of hands – the least you will have is an extra pair of hands to help you during the sessions.
- Raises the bar – working alongside experienced coaches is the best way to learn so even if they do not come into your team you will have raised the bar for them and consequently players will benefit elsewhere. This then creates more players for your players to compete against.
- Showing value in people – At the end of the day, it is people who make things happen. Showing faith in people makes them feel great about themselves. If we all spent more time investing in others everyone would benefit.
I see way too many coaches who are looking for coaches to come in and do hours for them so they can skim off the top of an hourly rate they pay. I understand this business model but I believe coaches often go about it the wrong way. They take coaches on who they don’t know and then hope they will be the right fit. I am hearing too many negative stories of head coaches being let down by assistant coaches. I am also hearing too many stories of assistant coaches saying they are receiving no training from their head coach.
I have to add I am witnessing some fantastic examples where head coaches are really investing in their team and the results are spectacular.
So, my plea to you is simple, if you run a programme and are looking for coaches then publicise you run an open doors policy where any coach can come and shadow your coaching free of charge. Get to know the coach, give them more and more responsibility as time goes on and see how they step up. Slowly introduce them to your team and reward their performances. Build a big team so you do not rely on only one coach. Create a real sense of team and see the benefits flood in.
If you are an aspiring coach then seek out the coaches you want to learn from and ask them if you can shadow them. Learn from them while they are doing their work. It is the best way to learn and the investment in time will always pay dividends in the long-term.
I believe the time is right in tennis to start to invest in the cockroaches.
This principle applies across all areas of tennis and in every country. I would love it if you could share positive examples you see or have experienced in the country you are from. I would appreciate you sharing this with coaches from other countries so we can read all the great things that go on around the world.
As always, thank you for investing your time to read this blog.