Should a Junior Player have more than one coach?

What are you thoughts on having more than one coach at the same time?

The Institute for the Study of Youth Sports concluded in their report for the USTA that parents who were using multiple coaches undermined the coaching effectiveness and player development. 

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I agree with this because I use a long term outlook and curriculum for developing a player over a course of several years and I train all my students as if they desire to play at a college level of tennis by the time they finish High School.  They may or may not want to play college tennis but I train them with the pathway to get them there.  One must realize that this level does take thousands of hours of training over multiple years using very important and specific progressions.  

Because of this I do not think it is wise or beneficial for a student to have different coaches in this formative time.  Different coaches teach different methods and I am convinced it is best for a student to pick one coach whom they like and trust, who is qualified, and stick with him or her so as not to get confused.  I say this because it can be difficult to de-program and then re-program the brain to be more efficient when students come with flaws in their technique that need to be corrected.  What often happens is because players want to win so bad, the power of going back to the comfort levels of old methods is very the point that players will never move on to more effective play, even as they know that such methods will help them down the road.

Is it ever ok to train with a variety of coaches?  

Absolutely, when the coaches work together as a team, communicating together regularly, with an agreed upon pathway for success for the betterment of the student.  Not in competition for business. Not typically for beginner to intermediate students. I currently do this with my own players.  They train with me predominantly but may attend various camps for example.  Those coaches and I communicate or I discuss with my players what was taught and we go over anything that may be confusing to them.

If your child is an advanced player you may have the following entourage: 

Specialists to assist in developing different components of your child's game. Top players employ these professionals weekly:

  • Hitters to rehearse closing out sets and variety of styles of play 
  • Stroke development experts
  • Mental/Emotional experts
  • Tennis Specific off-court trainers

To avoid confusion, employ one coach per job at any given time. Two different coaches employed to fix a technique may prove to be extremely confusing for your child. Conflicting information and battling egos spells trouble!

Quality Versus Quantity:

' “Practice in the manner in which you are expected to perform." If you only attend group classes or hit with friends you are in no way replicating match conditions. While a top junior may be training for FREE at a certain club, ask yourself: “Are they hitting in my child’s group all day, every day?” '

- Frank Giampaolo founder of The Tennis Parents Workshops

© GreatBase Tennis School of Wake Forest  2011