A great coach once told me, “It’s not what you teach; it’s what your student learns”. Ever since then, whenever I am coaching, I have tried my best to deliver my instructions clear and to the point. I know it’s my job to make sure my student gets it right.
One of the things that motivate me the most about coaching is knowing that each student has his or her own way of learning. As a result, the art of coaching is being able to find that particular way. This is what makes coaching both interesting and challenging.
Nowadays, the attention span of younger students is getting shorter. Therefore, it is very important to find the right time to deliver your message. If we are lucky, we will get maybe twenty seconds of their “Wi-Fi” to share with us. The amount of time is very short so I always choose quality over quantity. I focus more on doing, and less on talking. For those reasons, it is very important to find the right moment and to be flexible with our coaching agenda. We need to listen and respond to the signals our students are giving, knowing that they may not always be ready to learn something new which is fine. In this case patience is the key.
After many years of coaching, I have found that the best approach is to let my students experiment without intervening, and to let them figure some things out on their own. At the end of the day, I want it to be their way of doing it and not my way. Their performance will be more natural and efficient when needed under pressure. Sometimes the most effective message is no message at all.
I will like to conclude this article, offering this simple advice when communicating with your students:
Tell them what you want them to do, NOT what you DON’T want them to do.
Salomon is the Co-Director of Tennis at Christopher Morley Tennis in Roslyn. He is a passionate tennis coach that with his unique and creative way of coaching has been making a great impact in the lives of many of his players around the world for more than 25 years. He is a Sports Science Teacher and a Master in Tennis and High Performance Coaching from Wingate College in Israel. He is author of the book Salomon’s Tennis Wisdom. You can reach him at Zenmaster18@hotmail.com or by visiting www.Salomontennis.com.