The Weakest Link

Teamwork! This term is very much underrated in the world of an individual sport, such as tennis.

However, it is the utmost vital tool that coaches need to utilize in order to enhance the performance of their tennis player. On average, a high-level tennis player’s team would consist of a tennis coach, a strength & conditioning coach, and a physiotherapist. These individual experts have an imperative role to play towards the elite-level performance of the tennis player; with each of them bringing something essential to the table.

Having a team of experts is considered a privilege for any tennis player. Under this type of guidance and first hand knowledge specific to helping a tennis player peak, the athlete can continuously develop their game.

But is it really a privilege or an encumbrance to the tennis player?

In reality, the team is only as strong as its weakest link. In most circumstances, the biggest problem lies within the team itself and it can it seriously diminish the success of the tennis player; this problem is… “drum roll please”… COMMUNICATION.  

Daily communication between team members is essential in ensuring that all of coaches/ experts are on the same page when it comes to an athlete’s training regiment. I’ve seen it time and time again; where there was a lack of communication between a tennis coach and the strength & conditioning coach. And then who suffers… the tennis athlete, of course

It is important to remember that as a strength & conditioning coach, we are secondary in priority for the athlete to the tennis coach, especially at the non-professional level. A tennis coach will run the practice according to what is necessary to improve the athlete’s skills. The strength & conditioning coach will then need to adjust their training plan to align with the coach’s plans.

For example, if the coach has a session with the athlete that is physically demanding on the court, and the strength coach has planed a vigorous interval running session to work on the anaerobic system, is that really the smartest plan? As such communication between team members is key, because it prevents inconsistent training that might hinder an athlete’s performance instead of improve it.

Preventing miscommunication within you team of coaches:

1)When there is insufficient time       

This happens at the college and academy level, where athletes transition straight from on-court practice to off-court training. The strength coach is then not aware what type of training the athlete has just undergone. Since there was no time to communicate, the word from an athlete sometimes may not be as valuable, because he/she will do absolutely anything to get better and may simply not know the consequences of over training. This is where education is key, and it is imperative to inform the athlete of the importance of non-conflicting training.

 

2) Maintain daily, weekly, and monthly plans             

It is imperative to have meetings as a team between all coaches. Again, at the college level and the academy setting, it is a lot easier to organize these types of meetings.

 

3) Consistency is key   

Creating a system that works for all coaches can be all trial-and-error at first. However, being consistent in adhering to these plans by each coach/ expert is where an athlete is able to grasp the most benefit. Making sure that meetings, analysis, and modifications to training plans are communicated between all team members ensures continuous progress, and is the key to success for the athlete.