A lot of tennis players don’t want to invest the money or the time to hire a coach. But this can be one of the biggest mistakes you are making in your tennis career.
As a tennis player and coach, I have learned the immense value of having an expert help me improve my tennis game. When we want to learn a skill, the most efficient way is to hire someone to show us how to do it. If you are hesitant about getting a coach, or happen to be a coach that wants to prove to your students why they made the right choice, check out my top 10 reasons why you should hire a tennis coach below:
Coaches who are passionate about seeing you succeed will hold you accountable if you aren’t giving your best effort towards improving your tennis game. Your coach will know that you haven’t been practicing your follow-through on your forehand that you learned last week, and whether you have been using the new footwork patterns that you promised to work on. A good tennis coach will constantly evaluate your game and give you feedback based on your progress or stagnation. If you aren’t up to standards, you not only have to answer to yourself, but you have a lot of explaining to do to your tennis coach.
One of the main roles of a tennis coach is to be a mentor. Coaches will teach you what you need to do to succeed, get you on the right mental path to success, and keep you motivated to train hard to reach your goals. When I spoke to Allistair McCaw, a recent guest on The Tennis Files Podcast and the world class trainer of Kevin Anderson, he said “Coaching is about serving others, being there for others, and putting others first.” One piece of advice I’ve heard over and over again (Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill) is to get a mentor.
3. Spotting Mistakes That You Can’t See
Coaches will recognize flaws in your game that you wouldn’t have seen in a hundred years. Have you ever had a friend ask you why you did something that you had no idea you were ever doing? Good coaches are invaluable because through years of experience and training they can spot even the most minuscule technical flaws or strategic mistakes that hamper your progress. The next best thing to a coach is to video yourself playing. But even then, depending on your skill level, you may not be able to recognize when and what you are doing wrong.
4. Accelerating Your Improvement
Coaches will find flaws in your game and help you fix them quicker than you could by yourself. Most amateur players approach their tennis problems something like this: “My backhand sucks, but I don’t know how to fix it. Maybe I’ll watch Federer and copy his backhand!” A good tennis coach will look at your backhand and tell you specific instructions like “more shoulder turn, more knee bend, you aren’t following through correctly.” Sure it costs you some money, but wouldn’t you rather save the time and aggravation? If you visit a foreign country, do you try to figure out where everything is on your own, or do you ask someone for help?
5. Elevating Your Intensity
If we pay for something, we tend to take it more seriously. I don’t know about you, but when I finally convinced myself it was worth it to shell out $95 for one hour of tennis lessons with Li Na’s former coach, I told myself I’d better be damned sure to be as focused as possible. I wanted to soak up as much information as I could and laser etch that knowledge onto stones so that it would never be forgotten. When you pay for tennis lessons and know that a coach will consistently be evaluating your progress, you will elevate your intensity and concentration by leaps and bounds. If you can match that intensity in a regular hitting session with your training partner, then you are either an amazing person or a cyborg, because you will often have your most intense training sessions with your tennis coach.
6. Consistent Training
Hiring a tennis coach will provide you with consistent training sessions to improve your game. If you set up recurring lessons with your coach, you’ll have a set schedule of tennis on your calendar to look forward to and prepare for. And since you have to practice what you learn in your lessons, you will have to set up more training sessions with partners or by yourself. This illustrates why hiring a tennis coach can be the catalyst for increasing your tennis training and ensuring that you are constantly working on your game.
7. Formulating Strategy
Formulating the right game plan before tennis matches can make a huge different in the outcome of your match. And who better to help you learn and create specific strategies for success than your coach? Good tennis coaches have a plethora of experience and knowledge about the strategic aspects of tennis. Even players with ugly strokes (a-la Winning Ugly by Brad Gilbert) can defeat more technically sound opponents with superior strategy. A coach will help you learn and implement point patterns and recognize when you should use them.
Coaches can provide the inspiration you need to elevate your game. Sometimes we feel low on confidence or lost as to what to do next. Sessions with your coach can be the kick in the rear you need to get back on your saddle and start going full throttle again. A good coach will know what makes you tick and motivate you to succeed. There will be times when you need support and guidance from a more objective party other than your family and friends. This is where a coach can step in and make a huge impact on a player’s mental state and approach to the game.
9. Keeping it Real
Good coaches will be truthful and give you an honest assessment of your potential. You may think you are the next Andre Agassi. But your coach will be right there to point out all the things that Agassi did right that you’re doing wrong. Your coach can help you set SMART goals that are achievable and a bit outside of your comfort zone (for a free guide on how to set SMART Goals, click here and fill out the form at the end of the article!). Coaches know your skill set, what you are capable of improving, and where you can realistically expect to be in your tennis career in the coming months and years. There’s nothing more helpful than to think you have an amazing forehand or rock solid serve, only to have a coach point out your flaws and help you make those shots even better come next match.
10. Investing in Your Game
The mere act of putting down hard-earned cash for a tennis lesson says something about you. It shows that you are serious about your tennis game and want to improve. You value the happiness and enjoyment out of playing a satisfying tennis session and match. Perhaps you are competitive. Or maybe you just like getting better. Whatever the reason, you have shown that you love tennis and want to get better at it. Otherwise you would have spent your money on a nice dinner or a fancy dress shirt. The act of investing time and money in your game is a powerful step in advancing your tennis career, and you have to do it if you want to maximize your tennis potential.
Money can be made, but an education is priceless.
How to Find the Right Coach for You
Much like #10 above, it will pay dividends to invest some time into finding the right coach for you. This means talking to other players and asking for recommendations and/or reviews, checking how the coach’s students have performed and improved since they started taking lessons with the coach, and figuring out the coach’s teaching style and whether they can adapt to your style of learning.
You can also ask your local tennis clubs for recommendations and get opinions about your choices on online forums. And check out Play Your Court, which is a platform/app that makes finding a good tennis coach really quick and easy. You just answer a couple questions and then PYC will match you with tennis coaches in a matter of minutes. You can book tennis lessons (affiliate link) with the instructor of your choice easily through the app. CourtPlay is another similar app which you can take a look at to find tennis coaches online.
Do your homework when selecting a tennis coach, dedicate yourself to listening and learning everything you can from your coach, and your game will improve enormously. You will have a mentor, instructor, strategist, technical expert, and motivational figure to figure out how to take your game to the next level. You can spend a ton of time trying to figure out what’s wrong with your game and fix it by yourself. Or you can hire someone to help you improve in a fraction of the time. The support and guidance that you will gain from hiring a coach will be well worth it.
For more tips on how you can improve your tennis game, get a free copy of my eBook: The Building Blocks of Tennis Success by subscribing to my free newsletter below!