Having been a Tennis Trainer travelling on the WTA and ATP for over 20 years, I honestly believe having the right team around you is crucial. Some tennis players will have an entourage that may consist of tennis trainer, tennis coach, physiotherapist, massage therapist, sports physiologist, chiropractor, dietitian, manager, stringer, parents, family, hitting partner, nanny and even dog minder... I’m sure I have missed some! It really could be an endless list depending on the individual and what their needs are (Serena Williams is one player that comes to mind that has a slightly bigger than normal entourage).
Whilst some players play it low key and may only have one person on their team, which is also fine, getting the team right is important. I remember Justine Henin and Lyndsey Davenport travelling with just a coach, that worked for them, others like to have more people around them. To be honest, it’s not the one with the big entourage that is going to be the most successful, it’s the player that establishes what they need and then pick the best people that can help them fulfil the need.
Every player is different and has different needs. When I travelled with Martina Navratilova she was very open and said to me;
"At this time I don't need a tennis coach, I know what I have to do on court, I just need a good tennis trainer that can look after my body, prevent any tennis injuries and keep me on court"
So how do you choose the best tennis trainer?
Firstly, find out their qualifications and their experience, not only with athletes but with tennis-specific athletes.
Establish what they can offer you. Can they help you not only with your Tennis Strength and Conditioning but with you're warming up, food planning, your recovery e.g. massage, pool recovery? Communication between physiotherapist, chiropractors etc. is also important, so they need to able to communicate well and not have an ego and think they know everything. Being a support person or mentor is extremely important. Make sure the trainer has your back and your best interests at heart. All those little things make a difference. The bottom line is you want someone on your team that is positive and is going to help make your life easier for you as a player and more importantly as a person. Having a good tennis fitness trainer around you is one of the main ingredients to help a player reach their full potential. They really can offer a lot.
It’s important to remember some tennis trainers, spend more time with their tennis players than their own family. The majority of the time on the tour you will have breakfast, lunch and dinner with your player, be on the court with them, in the gym with them and then if you do their recovery etc. massage, pool, ice baths then your there also. So it’s crucial you have a trainer that is positive and has good energy otherwise it won’t work for you.
Most junior tennis players would rely mainly on; Parents, Coach, fitness tennis trainer and a physiotherapist. I believe one other person of influence that should be included in a player’s base team should be a “mentor”. Mentors provide experience, knowledge and confidence for junior tennis players. A mentor should be at least 5 years older than a younger athlete and they should be a person of positive influence and someone with a solid background. These people have the potential to change a young athlete's attitude and motivation towards not only tennis but to life itself.
Most coaches and tennis trainers act as mentors, although it is never a formalised agreement. I highly recommend formalising the relationship and structuring it so it works as functionally as needed.
What does a mentor do? Mentors provide support and encouragement for junior tennis players. They are set of ears that should have the player's best interest at heart and their primary purpose is to help develop the athlete in a healthy manner.
Trainers in a player’s team must offer constructive input and developmental support and all this should take place in a positive environment. It is more important to help players become self-confident and positive about themselves than just being a good tennis player.
Have the ability to listen, give feedback and instruction according to a player’s personality (one size does not fit all) and needs.
Open to ideas and change (adaptable) must be willing to work alongside other people in the team and be willing to try new things when needed.
If people in a team are disciplined there is a good chance they will help their players be disciplined. Discipline counts for a lot in tennis.
If people in a team are highly motivated themselves that will flow over onto their players. This leads to more drive, determination and the willingness to “keep going”
If players want to achieve great things they need to find a great tennis fitness trainer that can help get them there. Trust me from years of being in the game; you won’t make it on your own. Somewhere along the road, you will have to find people who are willing to invest in you as you invest in them.
Search for them and work with them on an ever-changing journey that can be the best experience of your life!
For advice and mentoring support get in touch. No matter where you live, we can help network you into a great team!
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