Switching focus from playing to teaching tennis was a natural progression however I am not sure it was a smart one because the two are chalk and cheese. The problem with coaching is fairly easy for me to explain, the game has too many perceptions.
When you are playing the game it is simple to work out, you just have to win more points than the opponent. When you teach the game though you are analysing it to a point where it actually becomes uncomfortable. What I mean by this is that as a coach of tennis you are not accepting mediocrity so you are constantly dissecting each shot with the precision of a surgeon.
Can you imagine if you took that way of thinking into a tennis match ? There is simply no possible way during a match that you can rewind and look at why you missed that rather simple forehand approach. You have 20 seconds to get that out of your head or your next three shots may suffer the same fate. Coaching in a way affords us the luxury of almost making time stand still on a tennis court.
Dissecting a shot into three or four parts is what we all wish we could do when we play the game and if we had that much time to play each shot then I am sure we would all hit the ball with perfection. I think that's why an ex player will naturally move into coaching, a way perhaps to finally see how the game should be played, in slow motion.
The game at full speed can at times make no sense, a blur of movement and a split second to make a decision. This decision making process over a two hour match can quite often turn a sane person into one who resembles a person after too many beers. Talking to yourself and at times laughing at your own incompetence is not too dissimilar to an intoxicated person at the end of a night out.
I often wonder why my mind studies the game so intently, I think it is because I never mastered it, not many people do though let's face it. I wonder what Tiger Woods used to think when he dominated World Golf and whether he simply switched off when he got home or did he dissect his win ? If he shot 18 under par was he disappointed that he didn't shoot 20 under or was he content ? I believe that most past good players would make a good coach, it's entrenched in the thought process.
Could we liken golf to tennis ? Possibly. In golf if you leave it short you pay for it, same as tennis, In golf if you don't hit straight you pay for it, same as tennis. In golf you can win without being glamorous, you just need to limit the mistakes, same as tennis.
They are both mind sports with very little separating the best from the rest, the stronger mind prevails, not necessarily the most technically gifted. Many similarities. Wouldn't you love to go to dinner with Fed and Tiger ? The intelligence would be outrageous.
I have often admitted to being a 'nobody' of tennis and I am comfortable with this status but I am a tennis 'nobody' who has at least been out of my back yard. If I never left my hometown here in Albany Western Australia and travelled to Europe and to the other side of Australia to play I would not have learned the game.
If I had never met guys like Peter Holmes and Rob Casey who put tennis into perspective with their ability to teach it then I perhaps would just have taken the sport for granted. The level of intelligence required to both play and teach the game is one that I will put up there with gaining a degree.
I often get 'Who are you'? It's simple. I am a nobody who studies the game more now than when I played as a kid. I am a nobody who plays better at age 45 than I did at age 21. I am a nobody with a Level 2 Tennis Coaching 'Degree'. I am a nobody who is finally beginning to understand the game after 32 years of playing it.
That's who I am.........