Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Tennis coaches: role changes over time

Doug Browne

Doug Browne

“Coaches are expensive,” Pete Sampras offered at a tournament press conference. There are several different ways a coach can be compensated but many of the ATP Tour players often reward their coaches with 10% of their tournament earnings. Now, with ‘Pistol Pete’ earning over 43 million dollars during his electrifying career, one may understand Sampras’ trepidation when he had to pay his coaching team for services rendered.

One of the most disturbing changes in today’s world is this new trend that kids just don’t get together on their own and play their respective sport. Baseball historians brought this issue up recently. They explained the importance of having fun with your sport. In the good ole’ days kids would meet at their local diamond and play pickup baseball for hours. Now, unless the local coach is setting up the game, no one meets their friends at the baseball diamond or the tennis courts. Unfortunately, due to structured scheduling for kids, there is little room for spontaneity; kids just don’t take the initiative to get together and experience the true joy of sports. So, each practice session has more tension because the parents are paying the coaches for immediate results. Conversely, if the kids would seek out practices with each other, thus having less reliance on coaches, there would be more joy and possibly better overall results.

With kids unable to find their own tennis games, today’s coaches have increased responsibilities: Set-up matches for their students, provide the best on-court instruction, and offer top-notch nutritional advice.  Typically, southwest Florida tennis coaches charge at least $70 – $80 per hour for private instruction; therefore, it is imperative for junior tennis players to find the best group clinics in their area. As a rule, the going rate for a group class runs between $20 – $35 per day and each session lasts about two hours.

Now, in order to find the best situation for your child, I firmly suggest that the parent and the child go to the tennis facility and observe a class. Good tennis coaches run active clinics, with plenty of enthusiasm and good tactical advice to help the student reach their goals. Most importantly, every successful program offers plenty of fun. Finally, if your rising tennis player is a teenager, the top instructors are well acquainted with the leading college coaches and they will assist with future scholarships. And with parents paying tennis coaches a substantial sum of money, be thorough with your search to find the best professional. In my view, the best coaches in the game will not only provide outstanding court instruction but will also offer great off-court tips. Good luck and let me know if you have landed a great coach for your child.

Doug Browne is beginning his 26th year as Director of Tennis at Hideaway Beach Club on Marco Island. He has been associated with the USPTA for 25 years, and has been playing, talking, and teaching tennis for most of his life.

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