A teaching pro’s role in today’s world
Tennis teaching pros and their students have a special bond. But that special relationship is being severely tested in today’s world.
As a tennis pro, you are your students’ trusted source of information. So, how do you cultivate and maintain that relationship in the era of COVID-19?
First, be aware of how your club or facility wants to stay in touch with members/players. Some clubs don’t want pros emailing students on their own. It’s important to have a united and consistent message, and to not bombard students and members with too many emails, which can be confusing and annoying.
You also need to be part of the team. As a teaching pro, make sure you are on the same page with your management team's goals and objectives, especially when it comes to your club’s members.
What should your role be when it comes to helping your students in a time when it may be hard to actually be on court with them?
- Offer movement training drills that students can do at home.
- Help them rebuild. Pro tour players often complain of not having enough down time to make adjustments to their games. Convince your students that this is the perfect time to work on their weaknesses or build on their strengths.
- Offer tips on visualization skills and shadowing techniques in which students can focus on body and stroke techniques without the interference of the ball and opponent.
- Suggest specific online videos your students should watch that may help them improve or see how a stroke is done. Tell them what they should watch for when viewing these videos—teach them to have a coach’s eye for specifics.
- Suggest specific strength-training techniques to develop weak muscles or rehab old injuries so they’ll have a stronger return to the game.
- Show students how to do things by offering your own personal video tips from home.
- Develop your students’ mental skills. This has become a huge area online during this time, and the timing might be perfect, as the mental aspect of tennis is probably the least favorite for most players to work on—yet it might be the most important when it comes to success on the court. Suggest trusted online sources for your students to check out.
- Be a key resource for your students and keep them informed about any changes to safe play guidelines in your area.
- Have a plan. Let your students know you and the club have a specific plan of action to open safely, and that you always have their safety as your No. 1 goal. They need to feel you are prepared and there is a road map for them to get back into the game—with you as their coach and the club as their home away from home.
Ken DeHart, the director of tennis at Silver Creek Valley Country Club in San Jose, Calif., is a PTR International Master Pro, USPTA Master Pro and USTA High Performance Coach.
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