In this article I list out and explain the qualities that go into making a good coach. This might be useful for the coach who is motivated and wants to become a better coach and also to the beginner player who wants a good instructor who will make learning tennis easy and fun, or a budding tennis player and want to be taken to the top.

1. Playing ability: How important is playing ability for the coach? It is a fact that a reasonably good playing ability means, the coach has invested a lot of time on court to improve his game. This means that it is easier for him to understand the fundamentals of the game. If the coach has experience playing competition at a high level, then it also make it easier for him to understand the underlying mental aspects of the game. A reasonable playing level is also important for all demonstration purposes. The players learn more by watching than listening and hence the coach should have the ability to demonstrate the teaching points with clarity and present the correct picture. A good playing level will also come in handy when the coach is hitting with good level players or drilling them.

Having said that, being a good tennis player does not necessarily make you a good coach. It is also a fact that playing skills and teaching skills are two different things.

2. Knowledge: Even if the coach was a top professional player, it is important for him/her to have knowledge in various fields like, Technical, Tactical, Psychological and physical aspects. He also needs to have a sound understanding of the principles of teaching methodology involved in coaching children and young players. Apart from this he should also have some working knowledge in the fields of nutrition and first aid. It is also important for the coach to keep updating himself with the latest scientific principles of coaching by reading research articles, books, attending seminars and workshops etc.

Today in India it is easy to become a tennis coach. There are many clubs or tennis center’s where they employ coaches who do not have any kind of certification. It is important for the coach to have done courses which shows that he is willing to invest in developing himself. I am not saying that doing the coach’s course will immediately make you a great coach but it definitely gives you a lot of information and feedback that can be used to further develop yourself.

3. Communication Skills: The hall mark of any good teacher is good communication skills. Even if you have a high level of playing ability and updated with great knowledge, you still have to communicate that to the player and make him understand. Communication is not just about talking; it also includes demonstrating, listening, body language, tonality, effective questioning etc. The coach needs to have the ability to speak with clarity and also learn to be concise. I have seen many coaches talking a lot and with hardly any activity happening in the lesson. Humor is an important part of any lesson which helps in making the players comfortable and at ease.

4. Activity: Often you can see during a lesson that the most active person in the lesson is the coach. It is important for the coach to understand that it is the players who need to be kept active. Activity is one of the fundamentals of a good lesson. The coach should have the competency to keep all the players on court actively working towards the goal of the session. He needs to have a variety of drills and practices to suit different situations, in his repertoire, to achieve this end.

5. Fun and enjoyment: Especially when you are working with beginner players, one of the main goals of any good coach is to motivate the players to remain in the sport for the rest of their life. The coach needs the competency to ensure a lot of fun and enjoyment for all the players in each session. This can be achieved if the coach is able to ensure reasonable success by optimally challenging the players according to their ability and with good friendly communication skills.

6. Passion: Coaching tennis might seem like a very easy and attractive job, but unless you love and enjoy every minute you are on the court, it is not easy being a tennis coach. Only if the coach is enjoying his time on court, he can expect the players to do the same. He needs to care a lot about the improvement of each player and about their match results etc. Only the coach has passion towards his job, he will invest time and money in improving himself.

7. Patience: The job of the coach does not end soon after he communicates to the player on what needs to be done. In fact it is the job of the coach to find out ways and means to ensure that the player is developing the competency that was communicated. He needs to think out of the box at several situations and not just follow the usual traditional ways of teaching. Each player is unique and needs to be instructed in different ways at different times to ensure success. It is also easy for the coach to give up by saying that the player is not talented and won’t get it. The coach should have the philosophy that there are no bad players, only bad coaches.

8. Leadership qualities: To be a good coach you need to have leadership skills. Whether you like or or not, when you are on court teaching a bunch of kids, you are the leader of the group. When you have the competency to lead well, it is easy to maintain a safe environment for the players. It is also easy to manage time well since the players will listen to you every time you speak and you don’t have to spend time drawing their attention. The players will also have the trust and motivation in you and follow all your instructions if they see you as their leader.

9. Personality and image: Many players look up to their coach as their role model in the early years. Hence it is important to present a good positive image every time you step on court, with good posture and dressed up well. The coach also needs to have the core qualities of a good personality like, Integrity, Honesty, Punctuality etc.,

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