Mistakes happen and they’re readily made by the best of us. But this doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. Rather, far from it. From being conscious enough to notice mistakes and to have the capacity to reflect — instil regular reflective practice sessions, allows every coach irrespective of their calibre to build new skills and to become the coach they desire to be. Now this may take the form of a Top 10 tennis coach or an exceptional developmental coach — each coaching level serves a purpose in The Long Game and it is paramount to be mindful of how these levels intersect in building the best players to coaches in the world.
But first, it’s about those mistakes and the grey area that edges towards negligence. A scary word outside the coaching landscape and thus of greater concern when used within this environment, coaching negligence is a concerning reality players/athletes to parents need to be aware of and coaches incredibly mindful of to ensure they do not succumb to these pitfalls. One such preventative measure is the aforementioned practice of reviewing your own practices and if they’re working, if they need to be modified and/or if the time has come to update these older practices into more accommodating ones that take into consideration the individual player/athlete and their set needs i.e. that one size does not fit all and nor does a tennis drill and/or lesson fit all players/athletes.
To ensure you do not succumb to and/or fall victim to coaching negligence education is key and the willingness to uphold widely known ethical practices to codes of conduct in safeguarding all players/athletes — including from developing an injury.
This change of focus flips the script towards a coaches responsibility in their continued education to ensure outdated practices that have been identified as contributing towards the onset of injury in children to younger adolescents are removed once and for all. The same applies for the player close to the end of their initial 10 Years of Play and about to transition into their second decade of play towards their next peak performance with this cycle continued towards the Top 10 with further infusion of the 7 Keys into their game. However, if the initial decade leaves the player/athlete highly susceptible to the onset of injury then their second decade becomes derailed before it even starts.
Unfortunately this is seen all too often on the WTA and ATP tours when a player is in their later teenage years to early 20’s — early in their second decade of play, to then succumb to an injury that subsequently results in their rankings ascension regress and undoing the past 1-2 years of peak performance cycles. This is stoppable. It is preventable with the right practices and education around newer practices that align with the progression towards a Top 10 tennis ranking. But it starts with the ability to acknowledge that some practices may very well be outdated and change is warranted opposed to avoided.
When it comes to education it is important to be mindful of what was taught last year may not be as applicable as it once was and the same applies to what was taught twenty years ago may very well be outdated.
Sadly, there are a lot of coaches who rely on knowledge and/or education ascertained decades prior — whether that be one, two or more and avoid keeping pace with new knowledge and education. By all accounts, education one, two or more decades ago is still relevant and serves a purpose, just as important as knowledge from one year ago is to two weeks ago — it all serves a purpose. What is most critical is the ability to remain open minded to new knowledge — new education to ensure this can be integrated into your coaching practices opposed to being avoided and/or oblivious of new research that may very well uncover how to develop a Top 10 tennis ranking.
Times are changing and coaching negligence is a real thing and can be called out. Likewise, coaches need to be held accountable to these gaps if they remain void of up-skilling on a regular basis. And this definitely does not need to include courses and/or presentations from the same cohort, rather it is what’s external to your regular go-to source to see what else is available that may not be being shared within this context. To ensure this remains true this is where reflective practices comes into play and that level of consciousness on how you can review your own performance and do better — from safeguarding your players/athletes from injury to acquiring the knowledge that can see these players/athletes benefit from The Pathway to ascend towards the Top 10. All of this becomes possible courtesy of your own coaching practices — open whilst challenging the status quo to adopt new practices and leave the older ones where they belong — with the former generation of players opposed to the new and next generation of play that demands the winning edge afforded by science.
To learn more about Learning from Mistakes: Coaches, head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis and head to Episode 45. More? Catch up on our Tips over on TikTok, Twitter, Threads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.