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50 Critical communication
Communication skills can be as variable as a coachâ€™s students but the one commonality is ensuring those skills are developed effectively.
52 Growing confidence
Developing persistence through his own injury battles, coach Matthew Deverson is now instilling that key playing quality in his students.
53 Expanding the
role of coaches at tennis venues As opportunities to expand their traditional roles at tennis clubs grow, there has never been a better time to become a tennis coach.
54 Coach drills
Australian Tennis Magazine | May 2013
Marian Vajda, the long-time coach of Novak Djokovic, understands that the ability to share a lighter moment can help establish rapport.
Critical Communication Communication skills can be as wide-ranging as the students you are coaching but the one commonality, as JESSICA TENI reports, is ensuring those skills are developed effectively.
stablishing effective communication between coach and athlete is an essential part of training at all skill levels, but it’s a unique skill set that takes a certain knack to develop – as tennis coaches Christina Ladyman and Maria Bailey can testify. Bailey, a former professional player, teacher and now tennis coach based in Victoria and studying a Masters Degree in Psychology, believes one of the most integral aspects of effective coaching is the ability to communicate with her students both on the court and off it. “Communication is essential for optimal performance and achieving one’s personal best,” she says, “It is imperative to have sound knowledge of tennis and appropriate components of the athlete’s matrix so then it can be communicated effectively for optimal development of the player.” Establishing those communication skills can take years of practice but considering how essential they are to ensuring that each student reaches full potential, it’s a critical investment of time. Communication isn’t just limited to the pupil but should also extend to a collaborative approach with parents or caregivers. “I try and involve the parents as well as their thoughts along the way,” says Ladyman, coach at Energize Academy in Western Australia.
Australian Tennis Magazine | May 2013
This is something that Bailey agrees with wholeheartedly. “Collaboration with the parent is essential for the flow of information and development of the essential three way relationship between player, coach and parent,” she notes. Developing listening skills and showing attentiveness to the athlete’s needs is equally imperative for coaches. “This is established through excellent coach/player relationship-building in an enjoyable, dynamic, interesting and safe environment,” Bailey points out. Ladyman and Bailey have each developed experience with diverse age groups and a varied skill-level of pupils, ranging from the MLC Tennis Hot Shots program catering to the younger ages to the more elite and older athletes. They agree that one of the keys to effectively communicating with such a broad range of athletes is to understand the individual needs of each pupil. “Everybody is different and as a good coach you have to understand each child in terms of the way that they learn and also, helping them to understand their own individual developmental level is important,” Bailey says. Ladyman notes that communication styles can be as varied as the skill levels of the players they are coaching. “I do work a little bit with the Hot Shots kids and the
communication definitely varies there from being more animated, bright and lively compared to the more elite athletes,” she explains. “There are definitely differences in communication styles.” She applies this same method and takes a keen interest in the lives of her pupils with regards to their game play and also what they like to do off-court and away from the game. “I try to understand their individual worlds and what interests them away from their tennis lives,” she says.
Even the most elite players perform their best with positive reinforcement.
Communication styles will vary according to age and skill level.
Developing an ongoing rapport between coach and athlete opens the lines of communication and helps coaches to better understand how to engage the player within the game. “Making eye contact, for example, is really important in the early stages, it sounds crazy but you couldn’t wear your sunglasses while talking [to a child] at the start because you’re trying to develop that rapport,” says Bailey. Just as the way in which communication can vary in its delivery – whether it be auditory, tactile, verbal or through body language – those forms of communication can also be received differently by individual players.
Bailey has a mental checklist that she likes to consider when communicating with students. “Some of my list covers areas of simple and direct messages, open and closed questioning and language that is age appropriate and skill level appropriate,” she says. “I think it is important to be encouraging but honest and know how to deliver information and be open to learning yourself.” Ladyman takes an approach that allows her students to feel that she can relate to them. Extending an interesting beyond the tennis court can help establish common ground, which also assists with coaching techniques. “I find something else away from their tennis lives that I can draw from so, if they are doing another sport or another activity I see if I can somehow relate that back to the tennis court so that they can understand,” she says. Business-wise, communication is also essential in being able to provide a service that will engage potential students and both Ladyman and Bailey kept that in mind as they strive to deliver a specific message that will help a student discern whether or not a particular style of coaching is what they are seeking. “The message that I want to convey is that I want them to enjoy the game, as well as being the best that they can be at whatever level that takes them to,” says Ladyman. As an optimal performance coach with an extensive background in physical education and sport psychology coaching principles, Bailey considers herself a coach who will
COMMUNCATION CHECKLIST Are you: ■■
Simple and direct?
Specific in your message?
Addressing players by name?
Using both open and closed questions?
Honest and believable?
make every effort to allow a student to achieve their personal best and make continued improvements – whether it be at grassroots or a more elite level. “I am very big on helping individuals build belief in themselves and the confidence to achieve their optimal performance whatever the level,” she explains. “When a player has confidence and belief in their own self and their abilities, amazing development can take place and that’s extremely rewarding”.
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MY TENNIS LIFE
Growing confidence A personal setback may have stopped Matthew Deverson’s playing career, but not his coaching one. His focus is now entrenched in keeping his athletes motivated as they strive to reach their full potential. Tennis taught me to never give up. There was an instance when I was injured, but I still made it to the semi-finals of an open tournament. I just kept playing and even surprised myself especially when all my training partners, who were fully fit, were knocked out in first and second rounds. The ‘never give up until the last point is over’ attitude is now something I work hard to instill in my students. My shoulder injury may have stopped my attempts to make it as a player, but coaching was something that came naturally to me. It’s all about understanding what the students know and explaining to them things they don’t know, so they can ‘get the picture’ on what they need. Also having been through it myself has made my job a lot easier. Before coaching I worked within the security industry. My role involved working in nightclubs or going on patrols, but I really hated almost every minute of it. I also worked in a production factory as a labourer to pay for my own full-time training. Tennis has been a part of my life for almost 40 years. I started playing as a four year old and moved into coaching part-time when I was 18. I made a full-time commitment to coaching at 27. Managing Elite Tennis International at the
Caloundra venue has brought me many rewards. My coaching style is tough, but fair. I hope players take that on board and try to be similar both on court and off it. I stay focused on giving every student what it is they need for success. Working with players who have played in the main draw of the Australian Open has been a highlight. I worked with Jay Gooding and Marc Kimmich and was a hitting partner for Shayna McDowell. I’m striving to one day have an ATP or WTA player playing on the circuit, Hopefully this is a goal I’ll achieve during my coaching career. A coach can help with an athlete’s work ethic. I like to use a simple progression map of where they are and where they need to be. I show them each time they improve on something or reach a goal and this keeps them motivated. Working as a team is very important. To see a player’s confidence grow when they understand what it is they are learning and how it benefits them and their improvement, always puts a smile on my face. It’s the reason why I love my career.
Na me: Matthew Dever son Qualifications: Tennis Australia Master Club Professio nal Clubs: Ca lou nd ra Ten nis Centre (Su nsh ine Coast Re giona l Ten nis Centre) and Mooloola ba Ten nis Centre Other: Local Advisory Group Coaches, Qld represent ative
Professional tennis players inspire up-andcoming athletes to reach the next level. I always use Novak Djokovic as an example as he never makes excuses and plays with confidence. I think achieving what he has done with the dominating players of his era in Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal is just truly amazing. Other sports can also provide inspiration. In order to play in the AFL the players need to be super fit to have any chance at competing at the highest level. I highlight this to my athletes and this is one of my main focuses for the elite players coming up the pathway.
The Caloundra Tennis Centre has recently received regional centre status. It’s a promising sign and there are plans to upgrade the centre from 12 to 20 courts. Our other venue in Mooloolaba has been earmarked as a sub-regional centre. This will help us in being able to offer tennis to more people.
Matthew Deverson has been involved with tennis, as a player and coach, for almost 40 years.
Australian Tennis Magazine | May 2013
The Pro Tour is a powerful avenue for athletes. I have coordinated six ATP Challengers at Caloundra as well as some of Australia’s biggest prize money tournaments including the 2005 Caloundra City Open, which won Tournament of the Year. These tournament opportunities provide the next generation with a platform to launch their careers and I love having a role in this.
Expanding the role of coaches at tennis venues With growing opportunities to expand coaches traditional roles at tennis clubs, there has never been a better time to be a tennis coach. NATASHA KERSTEN reports Top five reasons for coaches to take on a wider role at venues: 1. Broadening the scope of their business – good mix of on court and off court responsibilities. 2. Additional revenue streams from off-court activity. 3. Control over operations – more autonomy in decision making. 4. Better venue utilisation and community outcomes – more people playing, more often. 5. Further career opportunities – expanding operations to manage multiple tennis centres.
here is nothing more satisfying than seeing the pleasure kids get from learning a skill, improving their game and having fun – and if you don’t mind working outside of regular business hours and the occasional early start, then being a tennis coach offers a great lifestyle. Not only are coaches involved in a sport they are passionate about, but the flexible hours, ability to work outdoors, the perks of staying fit and having a happy and healthy work environment are all reasons why thousands of coaches are drawn to the industry. However, now there may be even more reasons to choose a profession in the tennis industry as opportunities in venue management begin to present themselves, allowing coaches to expand their traditional role at tennis clubs. A number of generational, cultural and economic forces are merging to create an environment that will make the next five-20 years some of the most challenging ever faced by volunteer tennis associations. Associations will need to adapt to a declining volunteer base and
changes in the way consumers (generation X and Y) wish to access the sport. There is increasing demand on quality and well maintained facility infrastructure from both consumers and Local Government Authorities. This is where a huge opportunity exists for coaches to work with tennis clubs and Local Government Authorities to implement more professional management models. Coaches can offer a solution to clubs with their knowledge of consumers’ needs, flexibility and customer service through a shift to professional management. The degree of professionalisation and expansion of the coaching role will differ from case to case but the opportunities for coaches are now considerably expanded, giving coaches more autonomy and greater influence over venue operations. Of course, jumping into venue management should not be underestimated. As the demand for skilled venue operators increases over the next decade, it is important that coaches looking to enter this space are ready to step up to the challenge.
Tennis Australia supports professional venue management models with a community focus and has therefore developed the following education courses to prepare coaches for future venue management roles: ■■
Master Club Professional Course – Diploma of Management
Tennis Australia Traineeship program – Certificate III in Business
There is a huge opportunity for tennis coaches to assist clubs in the venue management space. For further information on education courses and venue management opportunities please contact the coach membership team on (03) 9914 4191 or email coachmembership@ tennis.com.au. Natasha Kersten is the Places to Play Resources Coordinator at Tennis Australia. Australian Tennis Magazine | May 2013
Coaches are increasingly performing roles in venue management alongside their traditional coaching roles.
Control and accuracy C
Author: Bernard Goerlitz Focus: Ball control, accuracy and stroke development Stage: Green ball, intermediate Equipment: Poles
1 – Doubles Ally Rally Objective: Players are to rally the ball in a confined space, challenging their ball control. C
Description: Players are to work in pairs and rally within the doubles ally. This can be done at ¾ court and progressed as required. • x 2 minutes both forehands and backhands. • x 2 minutes – forehands only.
Tips: Coach to observe the correct movement patterns required and also shape on ball flight. 1.5 m
2 – Hit the stick Objective: Players are to compete in pairs, rallying on half court trying to hit the pole as many times as they can.
Description: Set poles up by weaving the pole through net, between singles sideline and centre of net. This drill can be done with two or four players on court. Tips: As a progression, have player focus on hitting the top section of the pole. This will increase ball shape and reduce errors into the net.
3 – 30 second test Objective: Players are to again compete in pairs, rallying on half court trying to hit as many ground strokes as possible in 30 seconds.
Description: Set up two or four players for this activity. Coach needs a stopwatch and a whistle.
Tips: This activity can be done on ¾ court or full court as a progression.
Australian Tennis Magazine | May 2013