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Learning from Mistakes: Coaches

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This change of focus flips the script towards a coaches responsibility in their continued education to ensure outdated practices that have been identified as contributing towards the onset of injury in children to younger adolescents are removed once and for all.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 TikTokTwitterThreads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.

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Learning: the Role of Academia in Sport and for the Tennis Player

With ‘education and sport’ remaining such an in-depth topic that is rarely afforded the attention it deserves, this is a follow-up to our most recent Blog on ‘Education and its Role in Aspiring Tennis Players and Athletes‘. As the former looked at education more broadly and its applicability to building a player’s capacity and how education can be leveraged to enhance player/athlete performance, here we’re going to dig a little deeper. Most simply, education and academia fall under the same umbrella. Education can, however, be viewed as the initial learning years that are ‘mandatory’ for those who have access to these frameworks. Academia can then be viewed as ‘non-mandatory’ and rather used as a complementary tool to enhance performance and continue along a similar trajectory as The Pathway but with a more purposeful outlook.

By this it can be implied that academia is an individual’s personal desire — to learn, to continue their initial education into a more formal area and being immersed in academia in and of itself. However, for the tennis player this can be shaped as a continued ability to leverage their education and continue to do so in one or more of their peak areas of interest. Recall that through the initial formative years of a player/athlete their is limited choice of the actual framework, in most cases, as they are encouraged to learn a multitude of subjects to set them up for their later pursuits in life and/or prepare them for a more in-depth learning process in academia (i.e. University). However, this isn’t the premise.

The premise is centred around a player’s ability to ‘learn’ laterally and contextually by varied means with the tools at their disposal and in this case, using their education and the multitude of subjects they’re learning to tap into ‘other’ elements of play. And this is where the 7 Keys can amplify a players performance.

But there’s no mistaking the complexity that underwrites The 7 Keys and for a player/athlete to have a reasonable understanding of their initial education to better grasp and understand the topics to concepts to be presented in academia. By taking the next step in education, this can be assimilated with a player’s performance advancing in unison whilst their habits remain true. In other words, the structure of formal education can be integrated into the life of the player/athlete to afford a sense of normalcy and control — structure, that allows them to continue to follow The Pathway without losing sight of their end goal; becoming more susceptible to this when that structure is no longer in place.

A more prominent benefit nonetheless of academia is for the player/athlete to ‘finally’ study what they’re most interested in and/or inclined towards. On this premise, academia can be leveraged as a balancing act in more than one way whereas the player/athlete is continuing to reach new heights as they follow The Long Game and progressively ascend towards the Top 10. This ascension can occur in conjunction with the player/athlete and academia — using academia to offset this greater ‘progressive’ load and keep their intellectual advantage that has been honed over their schooling years and is now being maintained and equally ‘progressed’ in their academic pursuits for the ‘win‘.

Tune in to Beyond Top 10 Tennis for this week’s episode to learn more. And if you enjoy the episode, be sure to like, follow to subscribe or even a few stars or five! In the interim, catch up on the episode notes for all of our social links (or simply scroll to the bottom of this page).