I coached high school tennis in 2003 and 2004. I returned to coaching as an assistant coach at an elite program in Kentucky in 2013 and am having a successful campaign as JV coach this year as well. Coaching is a rewarding experience for a teacher because the threshold for getting a young person’s attention is typically much easier to meet on an athletic field than in the classroom. Seeing a young person’s skills and confidence grow is a major boost for any coach.
Coaching is Not Entirely Altruistic
My own understanding of tennis has improved as a result of coaching. As a player sometimes a tennis match can move like a blur. Errors, lack of adjustments, and panic can make a match end in a hurry. Coaching allows me to see a tennis match as a somewhat disinterested observer. High school tennis allows for some degree of coaching at change overs. Telling a player to keep the ball down the middle because an opponent’s form is questionable, but his or her athleticism is strong and therefore the opponent hits better when robbed of time seems simple enough. However, it is something that can be carried over to my own play. Coaching gives a player an opportunity to be more thoughtful in how a match is being digested and the mentality of trying a number of tools during a given match if plan A is not working.
I cannot carry 100% of these insights and this greater sense of serenity over to my own singles and doubles play. However, carrying even 50% of it over makes a big difference. If I could just improve my aerobic conditioning and foot speed, I could certainly surpass my level of play from 15 years ago.
If you can get involved in clinics or team tennis at a local park or club, do so. You will be giving something back to a great sport and also enhancing your own mental approach to tennis.