Thursday, 13 February 2014


I had an interesting conversation with my old coach one day regarding a common occurrence in the game of tennis , it was in regards to 'poaching' , or in simple terms Coaches pinching other Coaches kids , happens all the time . My frustrations used to be at boiling point as my junior program that worked on refining technique was continually interrupted by other Coaches offering 'better deals' , until it was explained to me in English.
'Anyone can offer a good kid all the bells and whistles routines but it shows a significant lack of one's own ability'. Sound confusing ? So was I until things became a little clearer, let's look at it realistically; 
Anyone can 'pinch' a good kid from a training facility with the offers of things such as 'reduced fees', 'Mickey Mouse Scholarships', free restrings etc , the list goes on , to hopefully give their Organisation the publicity  they 'require' to stroke their ego. 
In reality it's easy to 'poach' , it's much harder to take a kid from 'novice' to Champion , as good Coaches can do , it's all in the way you teach . Some Coaches rely on simply 'ball hitting' to somehow gain improvement whereas the good teachers of the game won't take the easy way out by risking getting off side with their pupils by not accepting mediocrity. I have often made the point that just because a kid gets a ball over the net it's not necessarily a 'great shot' as many 'Coaches' will say . I would say to a pupil that if they can hit the back fence on one bounce in court with a topspin forehand that this is 'acceptable' , anything else well then it needs 'work'. 
I had a hit with a kid not long ago who thought he was 'god's gift' to tennis but in the end i refused to hit any ball that he hit to me that bounced twice before it got to me at the baseline . Apparently this is 'accepted' with other coaching and it's why he will not get any better . Hard but fair i would call my style of coaching. Seeing the game both played and Coached in Europe has toughened me up as a Coach and I believe my take on the game is classified as 'reality'. 
Poaching of good kids will continue in every town where ego's are bigger than the game itself , sad nature of the sport, but makes life interesting all the same . If we didn't have people wanting to take our good players then looking at it philosophically then we wouldn't have a gauge on where we are at with our teaching . I simply take it as a compliment , and have my own philosophical way of looking at it. I would much rather take a kid from scratch and make them into a great player rather than reinforce what another Coach has already taught. I recently played a Championship where the other three players on court with me in the Final were all kids i taught from an early age . To be involved was a thrill and the respect was mutual , makes us 'old blokes' sleep well at night........

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