It’s my number one frustration as a Tennis Coach. You can’t get to your players’ weekend matches or to a tournament in which they’re playing. Even if you can, you may not be able to watch all of them.
When they return to the coaching court a few days later, the conversation depicted in the above cartoon ensues. You’re flying a little blind because it’s hard to know what areas of the game to work on based on their most recent match.
The Player isn’t at Fault
There could be a number of reasons why your player is seemingly unable to tell you what went wrong (or right) in their match:
- They were so engrossed in it, they actually don’t know.
- They don’t want to talk about it because it was “so bad”. The faster they move on, the better.
- They don’t have the match experience to be able to identify what happened in the heat of the contest.
- They’re embarrassed they’ll get the answer wrong.
The last one sounds a bit silly. It’s usually reserved for a squad class where there are other players around. There’s no right or wrong answer, but kids don’t want to give you what they perceive to be the wrong answer either. They might tell you what they think you want to hear instead.
Why do Match Stats and Graphs Help?
Stats don’t look for the answer the coach wants to hear. The recorded data is almost always a fair reflection of what went on in a match. If a player thinks that their second serve let them down and the stats show that they had numerous double faults, the coach can confirm that and display it to the player visually.
Perhaps the player didn’t double fault at all but won only 20% of points on second serve. Similar problem with confirmation from a stats screen.
No matter what the issue. No matter whether the player can identify it post-match or not, stats provide a link between what a player and coach are trying to achieve on a training court and what actually happens on the match court.
From there, better training can be developed for each player.
Using GT STATS Before Each Session
Going over stats with your players shouldn’t be a “point the finger at the culprit” exercise. “Your serve cost you the match” probably isn’t the way to go about it. At least, not at first.
I always like to have the conversation first ie without the stats. I then confirm what the player said plus add some positives and areas for improvement.
It’s much easier for a junior player to buy into a coaching path if they can visualize the issues. It’s also a great illustrator of improvement over time.