How to Coach a Tennis Match on Game Day

There is a lot of enthusiasm involved on tennis match days. Young tennis players are always feeling more pressure when playing in front of a crowd, so any kind of support and appreciation is more than welcome.

On-court coaching is a very delicate issue, especially when a player or team is expected to win.  Here are a few tips on how to help your player during a match.

Always Have a Pre-Game Discussion

Just in case you don’t get an opportunity during the match, talk with your players before the match. You can’t predict the course of a match, so be sure to do the majority of preparation before gameday and talk over possible scenarios pre-match.

Find Out What’s Allowed and What’s Not

Coaching is almost always allowed in team matches and double play, but it can be different with the singles, depending on the tournament or setting. You do not wish to make any kind of trouble for your player, so be aware of the judge’s criteria and always know what is and isn’t allowed for a coach.

There’s a very thin line between cheering for your player and coaching, and it’s up to the judge to decide whether you have crossed it. In that case, you player can lose a point at best, or an entire match at worst.

Point Out What Can Be Improved

You are looking at the game from a whole different perspective than your player. Try to notice elements of play your player won’t be able to see and work on quickly, clearly articulating what you see.

Signals between you and the players are easily rehearsed, though not always allowed. A clear and important signal at the right time can make all the difference.

Try to be very energetic when your player is doing good, and encourage risky shots if you believe they will go through.

What To Look For

Always be gauging player energy and identify when it is the right time to slow down or speed up. Opponents’ shots are also an important part of the game, so look for weaknesses and identify how they can be exploited.

On the other hand, if your players are having some issues with a certain stroke, try to come up with a few alternatives and encourage that style of play.

The most important support you can provide as a tennis coach is mental support. Your practice the mechanics and physical components year-round, but on game days, the only variables are mental focus and willpower. It’s your job as a coach to help your players focus and will themselves forward throughout the match.

Encourage Rather Than Criticize

Criticism during a game is distracting and irrelevant. All advice should lead towards a positive outcome. If you notice your player is lagging in his/her response time to the opponents backhand, encouraging them to focus on quicker response will be much more effective than criticizing previous play.

Take a few minutes after every match to reflect on the positive aspects of play and evaluate what can be improved upon in your next training session. If you notice that players are giving 100% in every game, let them know you see their effort and dedication.

In-match tennis coaching and on-court suggestions are a great way for trainers to help their players. Cheer for your players, encourage them when they’re playing well or poorly, and keep your eye on the opponent.

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