Whilst presenting at Indian Wells recently, we had the pleasure to meet and listen to one of the most successful coaches to come out of America (even though he is Dutch :)
Robert Landsdorp has coached some of the greats including - Pete Sampras, Lindsay Davenport, and Maria Sharapova.
It was an interesting presentation, as Robert is in his 80s now and was very candid about his craft.
Robert explained some areas of coaching he found the most impactful. He demonstrated some of his favorite tennis drills and told stories about players he had coached and mentored.
One of the stories that stuck with me was at his 80th birthday party, the majority of the guests were the players he had coached. They all seemed honored to be there. This in my opinion is a sure sign that a coach has done his job.
He mentioned that the ones who gave speeches did not mention his coaching, but rather what he did for them as people, how he helped shape their lives. Every coach and trainer have the capacity to do this and, in my opinion, it should be at the forefront of our methodology
“Prepare and educate the player and the PERSON”
Whenever we work with players to improve their tennis strength and conditioning, we aim to physically prepare them and educate them along their journey.
Another area Robert discussed was “repetition”
Repetition is a word that many coaches use with players and I also believe it needs to be applied in order to create long term gains.
However, we need to make sure we are repeating and creating the right habits. Whether it be technical, physical, mental, or emotional, what we repeat needs to be beneficial, healthy, and rewarding (all in the short and long term). If we can hit those 3 markers, then we can repeat what we are doing.
You will often hear us talk about the “Why” why would I get a player performing that tennis conditioning exercise, why would I say that to a player, etc. Before we speak as coaches, parents, and tennis conditioners, we need to ask yourselves the question - WHY.
Is it going to benefit the player in the short and long term?
Being strength and conditioning coaches for over a decade, this methodology has helped us make calculated choices when training tennis players, choices that put our athletes' needs, as both players and people first. Robert seemed to follow this methodology also. Whenever he explained a drill, he would tell you the reasoning behind it.
I believe Robert did many things extremely well as a tennis coach, looking at his career and hearing him discuss his time with his players, I can see he was tough but fair, but more importantly, he got through to his players the fact that he needed to be respected and listened to and with that came all the time and care his players needed to succeed.
Simple and effective principles applied time and time again will work time and time again, as long as we encourage the next generations to work with the same attitudes, commitment, and intensity as the players gone by.
To hear Robert Landsdorp's coaching philosophy, watch the video above.
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