This is going to be a super quick little read. Something for you to mull over as you sit and have your next cup of tea or coffee.
Are you a Michelin starred tennis coach?
I don’t mean do you coach the best players in the world. Do you strive to maintain and constantly develop your standards so that you uphold the industries very finest levels?
I listened to another Tim Lovejoy podcast on Tuesday night when driving home from St Andrews Tennis Club. The guest was, chef, Tom Ketteridge who has two Michelin stars. I have heard Tim say many times he could not stand the pressure of having a Michelin star as it can be taken away at any time. This means chefs have to constantly prove their standards and be looking for every way possible to keep learning and developing.
I don’t know about you but I think this sounds like an amazing industry. I am sure like all other industries the bell curve exists. There will be a tiny percentage that are awful, there are clearly a tiny percentage that are exceptional and all the rest sit somewhere in the middle. The question I constantly reflect on is ‘what is the standard of the middle?’
It would be interesting to know from a chef, if what is considered normal now used to be exceptional 20 years ago. If so, logic would suggest what is considered exceptional now may be the norm in 20 years time. This means chefs have to constantly improve just to remain the same level. Sounds great!
When I compare the chef and tennis coaching industry I sense a huge gulf in difference. Of course, the bell curve still exists but my concern is the average standard is too low in tennis. I genuinely believe the exceptional coaches I see around the world should be the industry norm.
Why the difference? Easy, in general people know good food from bad. They also know exceptional food from good food. When I have dined at Michelin starred restaurants (yes I have before you say) I sit down and marvel at what they can do. I instinctively know what I am eating is world-class yet I cannot cook more than 3-4 bog standard dishes when at home.
The issue in the tennis world is the general tennis playing public don’t know the difference between a good coach and a bad coach. I think they may sense a difference between an exceptional coach and a bad coach but they won’t be able to put their finger on exactly what the differences are. They will see the confidence of the exceptional coach and they may sense a bigger shift in their progression but they won’t know the actual differences.
Maybe, just maybe, the tennis coaching world could do with introducing Michelin starred tennis clubs. Perhaps it would be good to inform the general public what a great coach looks like. Would tennis coaches constantly strive to improve if their qualifications could be taken away from them at any time? I am not suggesting that but just imagine how that could transform tennis coaching. Imagine having ‘secret students’ going around tennis clubs having random tennis lessons in order to check industry norms.
Still, after 27 years, one of the best pieces of advice I had as a coach, was to imagine the coach you respected the most in the world was stood at the back of the court watching your lesson. I still do this now. The only difference over time is the coach in my imagination changes. Tennis players deserve the best coach they can possibly get at any given time. Now, over to you….
What do you think?
Have a listen to the way Tom Ketteridge speaks about his industry. I truly yearn for a day when I hear tennis coaches speaking about our industry in the same way.
Wholeheartedly agree Kris. Coaches could look to governing bodies to shine a light even on coaching levels but I think the reality is in 20 years of coaching, not one parent has ever asked what level I am or even if I was qualified at all. If you know it’s a Michelin star restaurant you will expect more but if that was not advertised your expectations would be lower.
For clubs we have tennismark+ but again who knows what that means unless better is done to educate.
Truth is coaches can always do better, the ones that are trying to are the top ones for me.
Kris Soutar says
Tennis mark was brought in to standardise good practice in tennis clubs and I think it did a reasonably good job when it first came in but the issues are, as with many things, once some achieve the grade they take their foot on the gas. The other issue with club development that the rotation of committee members is huge so I am not convinced the great work done is passed on to the next generation of committee members. This results on clubs being reliant on a handful of great people rather than a multitude of great principles and practices that work regardless of who is on the committee.