This is a follow up from last week’s ‘does your coaching reflect life?‘ blog. I’m writing this to expand on the list of problems tennis players have to overcome if they are competitive tennis players.
The reason I am writing this particular blog is to raise awareness on how many different areas there are to consider if you are the parent or coach of players. I believe there is way too much emphasis on how players hit the ball and not enough on the external demands of the game. There are 71 simple questions listed below that players will have to ask themselves in preparation for 3 different tennis events.
- Match day
- Coaching/training day
- Practice day
It is the night before you have a big semi-final match. You have those butterflies in your stomach when you think of the match. You are visualising how you will play during this match and the nerves continue to rise. Instead of feeling these nerves, you could occupy your mind by listing all the obstacles in your way before you even step foot on the court.
Below is a list of all the questions you may need to think of….
- What time is the match?
- How far am I from the venue?
- How will I get to the venue?
- What time do I have to leave my house/hotel?
- What time will I have breakfast?
- What will I have for breakfast?
- Now, what time do I have to set my alarm clock?
- When will I go to bed?
- What will I do before I go to bed?
- When do I pack my bag?
- What do I need in my bag?
- Have I packed a change of clothes for the potential final?
- Is there a 3rd/4th play off?
- Does the club have shower facilities?
- If not, where are the nearest shower facilities?
- Does the club have food?
- If so, is it the right type of food for me?
- If not, where is the nearest supermarket to get the best food for me?
- Oh dam, I’m going to have to leave earlier – do I need to wake earlier?
- Is there are stringer on site?
- If not, are all my rackets in good condition?
- Have I packed all the equipment I’ll need?
- What will I have for dinner the night before?
- When will I have dinner the night before?
- What will I do the night before?
- Do I need to be relaxed or do I need to keep busy?
- When will I prepare for my match?
- How will I prepare for my match?
- Will I get a practice court beforehand?
- If not, how I will compensate for this?
- Who will I practice with?
- What will I do if I cannot practice with anyone?
- What will I do if the match is delayed by bad weather?
- What will I do if I get stuck in traffic on the way to the match and have no practice time?
- Win or lose, what will I do after the match?
I am sure there are areas here I have missed but as you can see there are so many factors to consider for a player who is competing at a tournament. The reality is a young child will not think like this however over time they will have to. What do us parents and coaches do to drip feed this type of responsibility on to our children and players?
Perhaps you are questioning whether there is much to plan before going to coaching. All you parents, especially the mothers who run and organise most families, will know how much planning goes into getting kids to coaching. However, for this article I will stick to a players thoughts:
- What time is the coaching?
- Where is the coaching?
- Do I have time to go home after school?
- If not, do I need to take my tennis bag to school or will mum/dad take it?
- If mum or dad are taking it, is it packed with everything I need?
- If going straight to tennis, when will I eat?
- If going home, when will I eat?
- What will I eat?
- What did I work on the last time I was coached/trained?
- What am I working on today?
- How much have I practiced since the last time I was coached?
- Have I competed since the last time I was coached?
- If so, have I written my thoughts on how I performed?
- Will I show this to the coach?
- When do I have to leave the house?
- Will I arrive early and warm up before the coaching?
- Will I shower and stretch after the coaching?
- Will I have to eat again after coaching?
- If so, am I packing something or buying something at the centre?
- Do I have everything in my bag?
There are a lot of things a tennis player has to think of before coaching. How do we encourage our children or players to become autonomous in the process?
Yes, players need to practice and I believe they should organise their own practices.
- When do I have time to practice?
- Who will I practice with? Answer….. anyone and everyone
- Do I have to ask them?
- If so, do I have their contact details?
- Where will I practice?
- Can I get there by myself?
- How long do I want to practice?
- What do I want to practice?
- What does my friend want to practice?
- What will I do before practice?
- What will I do after practice?
- Do I need to eat before or after practice?
- How am I getting home?
- How is my friend getting home?
- Will I record how I played in practice?
- Do I plan my next practice?
Tennis is a game that will demand many things from you. Many focus on the on-court demands but in my opinion the off-court demands are quite often the ones that lead to people becoming disillusioned with the game.
I spend a lot of time suggesting to coaches they embrace planning as coaching offers many problems that need to be solved. Perhaps, just perhaps, if coaches embraced the skill of planning they may pass this on to their players without even realising.
I know parents are masters of planning as they have so many things to juggle on a daily basis. My question to parents is, how much do you involve your children in this process? The more you do the more I am sure you will see this planning and resilience under pressure transfer to the match court.
Planning to overcome problems is a great way of burning off nervous energy and helping build confidence that you can handle what is coming your way.
I hope you have gained something from reading this article. If you have, I would be extremely grateful if you could pass this on to your friends and colleagues.
Until next time, happy problem solving.
Perhaps you could help me add to the list as I am sure I will have missed key questions.