Cyprus Tennis Asks How Do You Choose a Coach?

Posted on October 11, 2010

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Wyn, head coach at Aphrodite Hills' European Tennis Academy got a bit excited

1992 Thriftway Championships Cincinnati, Ohio ...
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Cyprus Tennis – interviews Wyn, head coach at Aphrodite Hills – 11 October 2010 – Tennis in Cyprus

Cyprus Tennis :  When did you start to play tennis?

Wyn:  To be honest I can’t actually remember. I always remember going to the courts as a child. Back when I was young, tennis wasn’t of any interest to me. I always wanted to be a footballer playing for Swansea City and Wales but I always remember going with my father to have a knock around or with friends after school on and on weekends. It was something we only really did when Wimbledon was on.

Cyprus Tennis:  Why?

Wyn:  I started to play a little more seriously when I was about 12 or 13. It was a bit strange how it came about really. I was always a very good football player but for some reason our new P.E teacher at school was more of a rugby man and had a close relationship with the rugby boys and picked all of them. I got dropped from the school team and was really upset so I actually gave the game up for that season and decided to play something I could be in control of, you know, an individual game so that’s what I did. So for that season I was going to play tennis and that was that.

Cyprus Tennis:  Who do you most admire?

Wyn:  When I was growing up as a child I had so many great players to follow. Agassi, Becker, Edberg and so on, but the player I admired the most was Pete Sampras. He was a machine. People sometimes said he was boring because of his big serves and relentless aces but this was his game. He was boring because he was good. Under pressure his serve never let him down. I remember during one of his matches at the US Open back in the mid 90’s he was playing against a guy called Alex Corretja from Spain. While he was on court news had filtered through that his former Coach was dying due to cancer. Sampras obviously was an emotional mess. Crying and emotionally lost which is completely understandable. Did he pull through? Of course he did. This was Pete Sampras, World Number 1. How he did it, not even he knows but he did it and won the US Open in memory of Tom Gullikson. A True Legend of the game.

Cyprus Tennis:  Who does your game closely resemble?

Wyn:  That’s a good question actually. I’ve never really modeled my game on anyone in particular. I’m a firm believer that everyone has their own style. I guess if we had to pick a player it would be someone like Tommy Hass. Big forehand, Big serve, Single handed backhand but a little bit hot and cold haha.

Cyprus Tennis:  What is the best part of your game?

Wyn:  I have a fairly big serve and hit quite a few aces with it so for me it’s my serve.

Cyprus Tennis:  What’s the worst part of your game?

Wyn:  Undoubtedly a high forehand above my shoulders. I struggle to control that shot. On Clay its my biggest weakness because the ball bounces very high. Its why I prefer the quicker courts because the ball bounces lower.

Cyprus Tennis:  What would you like to change?

Wyn:  Over the years when I was a junior my coaches developed my game to be as destructive as possible so I knew fairly early on I wasn’t going to be as consistent as people who hit the ball slower but I guess I would like to be more consistent with my groundstrokes. Then again, I guess everyone would like to be more consistent.

Cyprus Tennis:  Why did you become a coach?

Wyn:  My intention was never to coach actually. I did my coaching qualification only to add another string to my bow. I never set my goal in life to become a coach though. It was my parents who encouraged me to take the qualifications “just incase” I wanted to try it one day. I used to help my coach teach small children and enjoyed it actually. Now I am very grateful to my parents haha.

Cyprus Tennis:  How did you become a coach?

Wyn:  In order to become a fully qualified coach you have to take courses from anyone of the governing bodies which are based in your particular country so I decided to take the first steps to become a coach when I was 17 years old.

Cyprus Tennis:  What qualifications do you have as a Coach?

Wyn:  I am a registered Coach with the Professional Tennis Registry (United States) and the Lawn Tennis Association (UK). To become a licensed Coach in the UK you have to undertake the LTA’s coaching Licence scheme.  The LTA is a fantastic governing body. In fact it has some of the best resources in the tennis playing world.  The reason why I chose to do both the LTA awards and the USPTR awards is that the USPTR is world renowned – you can coach anywhere in the World.  This gives me the best of both worlds.  Almost every country accepts the PTR as a governing body for coaching while you can only coach in Great Britain if you have an LTA Qualification.  I wanted to broaden my horizons a bit further and not limit myself to just coaching in the UK. I wouldn’t say that the LTA is a more rigorous qualification at all. If anything the USPTR requires you play to a higher standard in order to have the highest qualification. Now this does not mean that you have to be an ex-professional to become the best coach but it requires you to play the game and understand fully the fundamentals of the game. The LTA doesn’t really require you to play at any particular level to gain the qualifications.

With The USPTR I am a Level 2 Coach. There are 3 levels in total.

Cyprus Tennis:  How do you choose a coach and how do you know if they are good?

Wyn:

Qualifications

I think its important to choose a coach with qualifications for the simple reason they know what they are doing. For instance all coaches who are registered with governing bodies have to do a course in First Aid.  Wouldn’t you like to be coached safe in the knowledge that if something was to happen to you, or maybe your children, the coach would know what to do? It’s very simple really, to get the most out of your lessons a qualified coach would be the better option.

For example, when I was selecting another coach for Aphrodite Hills to work alongside me, I looked at experience and qualifications.  Jay qualified through the USPTR and had over 10 years experience. Experience (as with anything) in coaching is invaluable because you develop the skills you already had even further. Being able to adapt to different needs of different people is essential when coaching. Think of it, you have to treat children differently to adults on most occasions J

When coaching children you almost have to become one of them for that hour.

I have some friends who never played before but are licensed coaches and learned the game through coaching. It’s not a bad thing  I think it’s a shame sometimes that players who do not make it to the level they aspired to just become coaches for the sake of it, because they do not have anything else to do. The people who have been excellent players sometimes tend to be the coaches who aren’t necessarily the best. This is not always the case but they can be too stuck in their ways. They sometimes think, what worked for them will work for other people. This isn’t true. Everyone has their own style and its very important to adapt your ways of teaching to different people. Lets say for instance a Coach himself has a very poor forehand, it doesn’t mean that he can’t teach it. I know a few guys who used to play at a very high standard and got into coaching almost for the sake of it. None of them are coaches anymore in fact they have nothing to do with tennis anymore simply because they didn’t have the “nack” for it. I think you have to have a certain type of personality as I mentioned before.

In fact I never wanted to become a coach if I’m being completely honest. Or, to become a professional player.  I knew fairly early on that I wasn’t going to “make the grade”. I always wanted to go down the University route. However, while in university I had to finance myself which most people had to do. I had my qualifications so I put them to use and coached at the Tennis Centre while I was studying. It was only during term time, but the money I earned was great and in fact I got to love it more and more. I love working with children, they are so much fun.

Registration

Well, although there are many official bodies and association around the world with every country having their own bodies, I don’t think it really matters where the coach has done the Coaching badges and awards etc. as long as he or she is registered with one. At the end of the day Tennis is universal and the basics remain the same no matter which governing body a coach is with.

Experience

Every coach has to start somewhere. I started with coaching a lot of Children at Aphrodite Hills Tennis Academy and gradually I started coaching more and more adults as time went on. Although it’s a good idea to have an experienced coach it’s not always necessary. Think of it, the newer the coach the newer the idea he or she will have and new coaches tend to be very enthusiastic J

Can you look them up?

Yes of course you can. There are a few ways to do it. Firstly, most clubs are online these days with details on who coaches there and their profiles visible to see. The USPTR actually have a register of all of their coaches worldwide so you can chose which country you are in and find out if there is anyone in your area. The LTA is the same but this is specifically for the UK.

What other questions should you ask?

I would always ask which governing body they have got their qualifications from. This is the most important question.

Is there anything that would make you think immediately that they are not good?

To me a coach should not just have good communication skills, he or she should have EXCELLENT communication skills. Communication with each other is vital. Sometimes, what a coach says is far more invaluable than what he or she shows you. For me its what separates an excellent coach from a good coach. Organisation skills around the court. You will be able to tell instantly whether a coach is organized and has planned for the lesson or not. Also if you are doing the same exercises week in week out it doesn’t show a lot of variety.

Do you choose one to suit your skills level?

I think it’s important to remember that the more you progress then the higher standard you will need to be playing at. But, think of the Pro’s, you would assume that all of them are better players than the coach so how do you chose one to suit your skill level? Well, most coaches will have a reasonable playing standard. I think these days it’s necessary to have played at a decent level to become a coach. In fact the USPTR judge their coaches on playing standard too which is very good in my opinion. As I said, sometimes what a coach says is far more invaluable than what he or she plays like. I started beating my coach when I was 14 but stuck with him until I was 17!

Cyprus Tennis:  Do you need more than one coach?

Wyn:  For me I don’t think it’s necessary. There is nothing wrong with it, obviously, but why would you want two different coaches which are focusing on different aspects with you. Here at Aphrodite Hills, because we use Mental match Play as a way of teaching, it doesn’t make a difference because we don’t necessarily teach technique like most coaches do so being with one of us one week and one of us the next week doesn’t matter. Can you imagine if you have one coach on a Tuesday telling you to hit a forehand this way and then next Tuesday you have another coach telling you to hit a forehand in a completely different way? How confusing!!!

Cyprus Tennis:  What’s the best way to improve your game?

Wyn:  It’s so important when going for tennis lessons to keep an open mind. So many people go to coaches and expect miracles to happen. It’s like driving a car. It takes time to learn. You will make 1000’s of errors before getting it right. It’s the same in tennis. Let’s say you want to work on your backhand because you feel it’s not working. You can’t expect it to work straight away after being with a coach for one lesson. In fact if you are missing balls all the time it doesn’t mean that you have a bad backhand. It’s just going through a transition phase. It’s just the way it is. The Human Body takes time to adapt to new things. Don’t worry about making mistakes, keep an open mind, listen to what’s being said and it will happen.

Cyprus Tennis:  What is your opinion of Tennis in Cyprus?

Wyn:  I think the Junior set up is very good. The Cyprus Tennis Federation (CTF) have a junior tournament every couple of weeks pretty much throughout the year. Unfortunately it’s not the same for the adults. I think they have been forgotten about slightly. In order to keep interest in the game in general it’s important to look after the adults. I think the CTF could also be a little clearer on their scheduling policy and informing their competitors of what’s going on etc. Too many adult events are canceled at too short notice without anyone being told about it. But on the whole its pretty good.

Cyprus Tennis:  What do you think should be done?

Wyn:  I think that the CTF could be attracting far more international players to play in their tournaments. This would only increase the standard of play but unfortunately overseas nationals still have to complete the Medical which is required to compete in Cyprus. What I see at the moment is the same people week in week out competing against each other. Having a variety of opponents is good for your game. Adult tennis should be one of their priorities for 2011. There are players out there who want to play. Get them playing.

You can contact Wyn at tennisreservations@aphroditehills.com or telephone: +357 26 828122.

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