In my last post, “5 rules for developing super 10s and 12s players,” I referenced a post by Alistair McCaw. Alistair recently put out his top ten points that makes great tennis coaches, so I have decided to expand on this below. I have further detailed what I believe are the characteristics of a great coach.

Ryan Palfrey

Happy Reading
Ryan Palfrey
Head Coach Vida Tennis Essendon
TA Talent Development Coach

Choosing a tennis coach that suits your child’s individual personality and can contribute successfully to the players technical and tactically development can often be a hard decision. There are many factors that can influence a coach being a great coach. These factors can be the relationships between your child and their coach, how the coach communicates with their players, how much coach education the coach undertakes and how much the coach cares about your child’s development within tennis and as a person.

The following link is an article where McCaw ( posted the top ten points that make great coaches.  The post is titled:

10 things that great coaches do

The post discusses the ten things that great coaches do above all other coaches. Within this article I will discuss the meaning of these points and how your child’s coach should incorporate them into their coaching program.

1.     Great coaches are great listeners

A great coach doesn’t just focus on the technical development of their players. They listen to their players concerns or excitement about their tennis games, tournaments and development.  A coach that is a good listener creates a better bond with their player making communication better and helps enhance their player’s development over the years.

2. Great coaches are great motivators

A coach being able to motivate their players to train hard, make changes and never give up makes the difference between a good coach and a great coach.
Playing tennis like any other sport can be tough at times. Match wins; ranking points and the competitive nature of tennis can be hard on all young players. A great coach needs to be able to motivate their players to make positive change’s to their tennis technique and tactical awareness and to keep going through the tough times to achieve their tennis goals weather it be to win high level junior tournaments or win weekly matches at a club level.

3. Great coaches don’t just communicate well, they connect.

One of the key points to being a great tennis coach is connecting with your players. A great coach needs to form a relationship with their players. A great coach can make the player work hard; understand new techniques and tactical understandings while having fun during their lessons. A coach that can make a lesson fun and educational and have the player’s full trust in the changes they are trying to make is a great coach.

4. Great coaches are great teachers. 

Teaching a child to play tennis can be a hard all be it fun job. The amount of technical and tactical development that it takes a player to reach their full potential is enormous. A great coach needs to be a great teacher. They need to have an understanding of not only tennis but also how adolescents learn, the ability to be firm and fair during lessons and most importantly to make the lesson fun! As we all know that children learn best when they are having fun.

5. Great coaches care.

A great coach cares about their players! They like to see their players not only develop at tennis but as a person. They take time to connect with their players, learn about their players lives and help push their players to reach their tennis and life goals.

6. They don’t only teach and coach the sport, they teach life skills and lessons.

A great tennis coach forms a connection with their players and cares about their players not only as a tennis player but also as a person.  They not only teach a player about tennis but about life. The connection between a coach and their player means the coach is able to be part of the player’s life, give the player someone else to talk to, ask advice from and use as a role model.

7. Great coaches are not afraid of change. 

Great coaches aren’t afraid of the changes in the games of tennis. Great coaches are happy to grow with the game and their players. They understand that one way of teaching doesn’t suit every player and they are happy to adapt their style to suit individual players.

8. Great coaches never stop learning.learning

The game of tennis is ever changing. A great tennis coach needs to be able to change with the game to give their players the best opportunity to accomplish their tennis goals.
A great tennis coach never stops up skilling themselves. They read, watch videos, complete courses and learn from watching the game to make themselves better coaches and better mentors to their players.

9. Great coaches don’t arrive on time, they arrive well before time.

A great coach always arrives early.
Arriving early means they are set up, prepared and have the lesson planned for when their players arrive. Each player is different and will be working on different things with their coach. This means their coach needs to be prepared well before the lesson starts.

10. Great coaches are great innovators.

The definition of being an innovator is ‘to introduce something new; make changes in anything established.’
A great coach can do this by not being afraid to make changes that will help the players game even if they have been playing for a long time, not being scared of trying something a little bit different to what they or other coaches have been doing and being able to take advice from other coaches, their players and parents.

Use the link below for further reading on choosing the right tennis coach for your child written by director of Vida Tennis Kane Dewhurst.

Vida Team