Communication as a way to make faster improvement

            Nowadays tennis is a completely different sport than it was 20 years ago. We have access to information 24/7 because our phones allow us to search through the internet for any piece of knowledge we want. If we want find new drills for forehand stroke 5 minutes before the practice it is not a problem. If we want to improve endurance we can also find prepared plans to develop terrific stamina. Knowledge of the sport is greater than anytime before so the performance is too. Unfortunately too many coaches gain a lot of knowledge about technical aspects of the game, ground-breaking approach to nutrition or tactical solutions but they forget about the most important piece – COMMUNICATION.


            Communication enables us to effectively pass the knowledge to our players. There are a lot of coaches who knows almost everything about the game but their players are not able to win constantly because the way they communicate is not successful. We have to remember that communication is a skill as any other so without knowledge about this area and proper amount of repetitions we will never be able to use our knowledge to help our players grow.


            The golden rule is that it doesn’t matter how much you know if your player doesn’t receive the information in the most effective for this person way. Even if you are Nick Bollettieri and you give the best tips in the world your player can be deaf if you don’t pick the proper way of communication.

            To be a skillful communicator you have to pay attention to few important aspects. Below you can find them:


Know your player

It is impossible to send the message effectively if you don’t know the receiver. You have to be aware of who you are talking to because it will give you important info on how you should approach this communication. If you are working with a boy you will have to use different language and methods than while working with girls. If you are dealing with a shy person you should also adapt your behavior to make sure that he/she is feeling comfortable and can focus solely on your message. All these little details are responsible for the quality of your communication so make sure that you make some effort to get to know your players. Building a coach-player relationship is one of the most important aspects in coaching because your player trusts you. If you have a trust you can ask your player for anything without a doubt that he/she will resist.


Everyone is unique

Too many times we believe that if one approach was successful with person A the same approach will bring the same benefits with person B. That is a big mistake. Human beings are unique so even we can have some similarities we will never be the same. We think in different ways, we feel in different ways as also we act in natural ways for ourselves. Knowing that we have to make sure that we treat each person as a new receiver of information. We can’t generalize and use one approach for girls and one approach for boys. 14 years old girl will focus completely on different aspects than 17 years old and even talking to two 15 years old girls will show us that the same age doesn’t guarantee the same actions. Respect each other individual preferences and include them while communicating to make the developmental process faster and easier.


Use different communication methods

People think that communication means words. It is true – we can communicate by using words but it is not the only way available. Using gestures or body language are possibilities that we have to be aware while approaching different players. Some athletes learn effectively while hearing words while others will take much more from the communication if they see things. Knowing your player’s dominant way of learning you can be much more effective as a communicator and as a coach. In coaching player is always in the centre so you have to adapt to your players!


You have a lot of voices

Tennis players have many forehands. They can play them slow or fast, with spin or flat, short or deep etc. The same story happens with the voice. To make sure that the info gets to your players you have to vary your voice. Sometimes say things slowly to put more emphasis on details. From time to time raise your voice to get player’s attention if the focus is not there. You can also help your player deal with difficult situations if you pick the calm tone over the one with irritation. One voice – many possibilities. Discover them, use them, and learn which ones are suitable for different situations.


There are 2 people

The last one but not the least important tip – when you communicate anything remember that there are always 2 people there. Make sure that your player is able to give his/her response to your information. Don’t give monologues because it is not effective. Ask for personal opinion. Ask for confirmation. Ask for clarity. Communication is not about the coach – it is about the player so we have to focus on the other person.


As you can see there are many details that are responsible for the final result of your communication. Even the best coaching tip won’t change anything in the player’s game if he/she doesn’t receive the information. Make sure that you want to improve your communication skills in the same way as you want your database of drills. You will see that this area will help you develop even better human beings and successful athletes.