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Revisiting the Coach-Athlete Relationship Part 5: Developing an Elite Tennis Player

Following on from our previous discussion on the Coach-Athlete relationship and some concluding thought on this Chapter, it’s incredibly important to be mindful of how these key sections fit together in the The Secrets to Optimal Performance Success. The coach-parent relationship has to be one of my absolute favourites, although if I’m being honest, most of them are really powerful and hold equal weight. But for this particular one, it can get a little complex to misunderstood so here is a little extra clarity: no, this doesn’t necessarily mean your own parent and/or parents. Most of the time I try to include ‘guardian’ alongside parent, the same applies to player as ‘athlete’ is often featured at the same time. The thing is, some parents just aren’t going to be available due to competing priorities. This doesn’t mean for the player/athlete that their performance isn’t cared about and/or for, but it really comes down to time and/or availability. This is where it becomes important for the parents and/or guardians to have that conversation with their child to share this so they genuinely know why.

The next step from here is making sure there is someone else that can contribute towards the coach-parent relationship. After all, this is really an adult figure that can help the player/athlete navigate through some key decisions. One of these was really run home in Part 4 in revisiting Hiring and Firing Your Coach — it needs to happen sooner or later for most players/athletes and having an adult that understands them and their needs per the 7 Keys is incredibly helpful to guide the player/athlete on what’s best for them and their future endeavours.

Other segments of the Chapter were revisited in Episode 49 with some powerful associations. This includes Talent Identification and how often it does not serve the purpose of helping a player through The Pathway for the simple reason that it does not adhere to the principles of the Coach-Athlete relationship. Without these expectations being managed, these systems can be attributed towards Depression and Anxiety in Sport if too much emphasis is placed on outcomes opposed to steadily reaching that next peak performance cycle.

Nonetheless, this is just one of many varying aspects of the Coach-Athlete relationship that has behavioural implications for the developmental player/athlete and those they’re learning from — directly and/or indirectly.

This includes in-person interactions to those online and where social media plays a very ‘new’ role in a child’s development in contrast to a decade or two prior. Being mindful of these implications is incredibly important to lead by example for both parents and/or guardians and for coaches. This is where the tie to Player Behaviour can shift towards a coaches responsibility if they’re not leading by example.

Mental Stability is a constant at all stages of development and includes physical, emotional and mental wellbeing to ensure the whole athlete is considered opposed to a one dimensional view. This comes full circle to ensure both sides of the Coach-Athlete relationship are considered — the more easily management and apparent: performance based, to those that might not be as easy, oftentimes outside a coaches comfort zone: mental wellbeing. But here’s the thing, it really ‘can’ be inside a coaches comfort zone if the language is flipped to centre on mental conditioning and to work as a team to build more resilient outcomes whilst talking through expectations to ensure they remain within a manageable range. If this is not adhered to, pressure can mount quite rapidly and the player can become vulnerable to external influences.

Each child is impressionable to their surroundings and the tennis player is no different. Sure, these influences will change over the years, but the player/athelte still remains vulnerable to these susceptibilities if boundaries are not put in place.

Which brings the spotlight back to boundaries and ensuring these are in place to better protect the overall development of the player/athlete and as shared in Part 4 through referencing to negative noise and associated implications. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. In more recent years, the current Top 10 and higher stature players have started to speak out on the impact of negative noise often experienced through social media and only good things can come of this increasing level of awareness. Drawing attention towards the player/athlete and their overall wellbeing now will help put in place strategies that can be implemented in earlier years to better manage these tools/platforms whilst ideally mitigating the negative noise — irrespective if a player is ranked inside the Top 10, Top 50 or is a developing player. Players/athletes deserve a safe space to perform and the ability to quiet unwanted noise.

To learn more about Revisiting the Coach-Athlete Relationship: Part 5 Developing an Elite Tennis Player, head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis and head to Episode 50. More? Catch up on our Tips over on TikTokTwitterThreads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.

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Revisiting the Coach-Athlete Relationship Part 4: Developing an Elite Tennis Player

After sharing additional insights on all other sections of the initial chapter of The Secrets to Optimal Performance Success, the topic of Performance Expectations really showcases how ‘pressure’ remains a constant throughout play irrespective of what stage of development to progression and/or topic is being discussed. This underpins why key steps need to be put in place to remove the negative noise. A discussion in and of itself, the idea of protecting your inner circle is incredibly true in attempt to mitigate negative implications from external people who do not support and/or are not conductive for your performance. This applies to the tennis player in equal parts to individuals as a wider practice to be conscious of and safeguard your own internal compass against this type of noise.

One of the biggest culprits of negative noise with quite alarming trends in each demographic worldwide becomes apparent on social media. Unfortunately, most players/athletes are a part of one, if not multiple social media platforms and their direct inner circle — those inside the triangular relationship: parents and/or guardians and the player’s coach, often are also using these platforms. In other words, no one is void from this type of noise. Each person within any given inner circle has a role to play — a responsibility, to ensure the player/athlete in this context maintains their course along The Pathway and that any potential form of negative noise is minimised. This is more simple than perhaps thought as while each person is susceptible to the influences of social media and their own respective version of negative noice, a greater awareness of this and steps in place can in fact limit this impact with the right inner circle in place.

Keeping the player/athlete at the forefront remains key, especially if this player/athlete remains inside the scope of the developmental spectrum. This age range is not only more susceptible to negative noise but are equally as impressionable to negative influences. Interestingly and often ignored is that poor behaviours that a player/athlete may exhibit have oftentimes been picked up from their inner circle. The more concerning aspect with social media is that this broadens an individual’s inner circle if controls are not enforced (think boundaries) to protect that developing child and their susceptibility to view right and wrong (albeit simplified). An interesting conversation to be had.

Turning to child psychology to human behaviour, it is well known the levels of susceptibility to impressionability in the developing child. Rather, this is the age range where they’re learning ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and they will continue along this learning curve until their later years into adulthood. Of equal importance is that this still rings true for young adults who are continuing to pave their way in the world — sporting or otherwise. This highlights the role of social media at all ages — particularly within these earlier years, whether child to maturing adult, that impressionability is still an active behaviour that most are susceptible towards and that trends on social media to interacting with others should be cautioned if any such ‘right’ and/or ‘wrong’ debate is brought to the surface. By keeping that inner circle tight knit affords a level of guidance to gently nudge players/athletes in the desired direction opposed to deviating and becoming susceptible to a new fad and/or otherwise misstep.

Irrespective of your age, social media does leave you susceptible to impressions and the more frequently these are viewed, your scope of understanding may become fractured in particular if your inner circle leans towards these views.

A players/athletes behaviours and what shapes them should be well accounted for whilst the parent and/or guardian remains mindful of these influences. This includes the varying facets of the Coach-Athlete relationship that have now been discussed and revisited throughout this Chapter, including the coach-parent relationship and the power of establishing the triangular relationship. Keeping in tune with placing the child at the forefront is the choice of hiring and firing your coach — giving the player/athlete a level of responsibility to learn what is helpful for their inner circle and what might not be as effective. By being encouraged to make these decisions early on helps the player/athlete with their decision making processes but also keeps them accountable to their choices in respect to their coach. That is, a player/athlete should be encouraged to decide who fits their game best and who should be included in their inner circle — with the help of their parent and/or guardian, and if their current coach falls into the less than optimal category of no longer being effective and/or helpful at this ‘new’ stage of development as they pursue The Long Game.

To learn more about Revisiting the Coach-Athlete Relationship: Part 4 Developing an Elite Tennis Player, head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis and head to Episode 49. More? Catch up on our Tips over on TikTokTwitterThreads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.

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Welcome to the Podcast behind the Name

The Coach Parent Relationship

A good six to seven years ago now I was given the nudge to start a podcast. I even went as far as gearing up and even with the GOLD microphone gifted I thought this was it and was super excited. With a few recordings done, I was eager to head into a space I really had no idea about. And then nothing happened.

Well, it did happen but didn’t. The ease of getting into the space at the time was a little confounding and sadly pushed back on my top priority list. In all fairness, is was roughly around the time after my third to fourth book would have come out and needless to say, I still had a LOT more writing to get done. With SEVEN more behind me — that’s right, with 11 x Books to my name, it has been something I contemplated but wasn’t too sure how to begin.

Like many of us, I am sure, it’s about diving in and learning quick and fast and seeing how that goes. So, I just have to give a huge shout out to Spotify and Anchor with their recent integration (merely less than two months ago) which has allowed the once thought hassle to be no more. And whilst I am in the midst of penning my 12th Book (it’s a craft of love!) there’s just so much more to say and do and share with each and every text I’ve penned, it was time to dive in and start giving more.

That’s when it hit me. Don’t ask me how many Chapters I’ve written over the years, but I’m sure there’s quite enough. The premise — to take the listener through these Chapters as my Books all intend, but with the additional insights! I’ve always hoped that my words are akin to taking the reader on a journey in a near step by step fashion in more than one form. On one hand, learning the ropes in a progressive pattern. On the other, heightening the learning curve as the work goes deeper and gets that little more complex — beyond that, I am sure at the best of times when I do confess to getting a little too excited in deep-diving into the work I feel compelled to share.

And there we have it.

Beyond Top 10 Tennis has been coined to share the insights on ‘how’ to get there, but also ‘beyond’ that. That is, the varying dynamics that are integrated in this journey which essentially encompass life as we know it. Little snippets to secrets pulled out here and there with some data to sprinkle on top and commentary that comes from a scientific standpoint — that is, “evidence” opposed to fabricated opinions that run rife in the world from former coaches to former players and we all know the story behind the tale.

My word to all readers to listeners remains true — to share and tell the truth that’s behind the data and to allow this to be a stepping stone for the aspiring players to athletes and those in between. Because after all, the lessons we can learn through sport and tennis more specifically, are adjacent to those we learn in life, too.

Listen now on Spotify, Apple, Google to Amazon Podcasts with all links at Beyond Top 10 Tennis.