In one of my previous columns titled “Finding The Right Instructor,” on December, 24, 2020, I discussed the relationship between a player and a coach.
Fundamentally speaking, coaches are teachers. Like teachers, they have a passion for their subject matter, and their responsibility is to pass their insight and knowledge onto others. Students need guidance and motivation in order to achieve their educational goals.
There are three basic requirements the student needs in order for a coach to be able to have a successful lesson with his protégé. These three commitments are “admit, commit and permit.”
Let’s review and analyze each of the three.
This is the easy part. The reason a student is taking a lesson is because they have admitted to themselves that there is a need for improvement and they are seeking knowledge. Their problem may be related to stroke production, executing strategies, or even the mental/emotional aspects of competition.
Whatever their issues are, they are searching out advice from the coach because they are not satisfied with the current results of their performance.
This part of the formula can be a bit more challenging. Players must realize that beyond gaining the knowledge required to conquer the issues which they are attempting to resolve, they will need to commit an effort to practice and drilling in order to eventually improve and be satisfied with the results.
This is usually the most difficult part of the formula to accomplish.
We must permit ourselves the time required to actually conquer the problem and be able to successfully apply the new skills during competition.
After a lesson, players usually leave the court with lots of confidence and a positive attitude about the success of their achievements, but inevitably fall back to their same old habits once they find that the application of their newly acquired knowledge is failing under the pressures of competition.
When we begin to apply our new stroke or strategy in a competitive environment—and the results are not as successful as we were hoping they would be—the fear of failure encourages us to not stick with our commitment and therefore not permit it enough time to become successful. It’s human nature that we revert back to the safety of our old default settings.
Unfortunately, the new elements of our game which we are experimenting with will require a certain amount of failure before we are able to perfect them.
The key to successfully reaching your goals of improvement is to not judge your success or failure on just the final score, but analyze the success of applying your new shot or strategy to your game.
Ask yourself the following:
Are you now winning individual points that you used to be losing?
Are you raising the winning percentage of points you play? Aka, fewer unforced errors.
Are you receiving more compliments “nice shot” from your partner and your opponents?
Focusing on the success of small goals—aka strokes and strategy—will ultimately and eventually lead to the success of a larger overall goal—aka playing on a higher level of competition.
So, next time you’re on the court with your coach, begin with being honest and admit what your problems are. Secondly, commit and give the effort which is required to achieve the small individual goals you are setting. And finally, permit yourself the time to accomplish and reach your ultimate goal.
Wayne Clark is a professional tennis instructor with over 25 years’ experience coaching players on all levels of the game. Wayne is also qualified in pickleball instruction and is on staff as an instructor with The Naples Pickleball Center and Training Academy. at East Naples Community Park. Contact Coach Wayne by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone or text at 239-450-6161.