Emma Raducanu’s struggle to find a long-term coach has become one of her hallmarks. In a recent comment to Amazon Prime, she implied previous coaches couldn’t keep up with her needs. Telegraph Sport spoke to insiders about deep insights into the often-misunderstood role of a tennis coach.
A Coach’s Real Power
Unlike team coaches who wield power to hire and discipline, tennis coaches are at the mercy of their players. They lack contractual protection and stand the risk of being blackballed. Clearly, this isn’t a role for the anxious personality.
The Outsourcing Trend
In today’s game, various areas of coaching are outsourced, leaving the coach responsible for the sole area of technique modification. At the elite level, talented players have extensive support teams, raising questions about the relevance of former player coaches.
With the ever-expanding entourages of elite players, coaching becomes more of a managerial role. This makes us question whether a former player is always the best fit as a coach. The “supercoach” trend might be becoming outdated.
The Day-To-Day Role
Coaching is not just about technique but also often involves menial tasks such as booking courts and sourcing balls. While high-profile players may delegate these tasks, it is not always the case.
The Coach’s Influence
The problem of evaluating a coach’s contribution to a player’s performance is similar to the difficulty faced with football managers. Similarly, communication is a crucial aspect for the player-coach relationship.
Contrary to popular belief, coaching isn’t about having all the answers. Rather, a successful coaching relationship is a collaboration. This makes successful coaching relationships similar to those between a music producer and a musician.
Growth Of Female Players
In female tennis, it is more common to see players handing over decision-making to an older, experienced man. Raducanu’s desire for agency makes her unusual among female players.
We witness this phenomenon in tennis, where coaches have a sudden impact on a player’s performance. They are known for being expert motivators but their effect often fades, leaving player progress in question.
Identifying The Best Coaches
Much like ranking coaches, identifying the best coaches is subjective. They range from technical whizzes to motivators and managerial types. There are also those who develop close, sometimes inappropriate relationships with players, and those who use it to make it harder for players to let them go.
The Top Coaches
On the WTA Tour, Wim Fissette, originally Kim Clijsters’ hitting partner, has seen remarkable progress in every player he has worked with. Darren Cahill, a former coach for Andy Murray, has shown top-tier skills working with Jannik Sinner. Sinner recently defeated Novak Djokovic at the ATP Finals, showcasing his game’s recent growth.
Jessica Roberts serves up the latest in the world of tennis. With a love for the racket sport, she reports on tennis matches, player rankings, and Grand Slam events, ensuring readers stay informed about the tennis world.