View Full Version : I'm offically an Assistant Coach- Advice?

09-02-2006, 09:01 AM
After playing at the local high school court all summer, helping a lot of the kids there with the basics (and fixing the schools ball machine!), the head coach has asked me to be an assistant and help out with the schools team.

I'm a teacher in the county system, but I teach CAD at the vocational school, and do not teach at the high school. Helping out would mean losing a couple of evenings every week ,driving a little out of the way(and working pro bono).

My problem is I've never had a coach in my life, only read about tennis, watched a lot of games and videos, and, these days, spent a lot of time browsing the forums here. I played a lot in highschool, but my school did not even have a team. We just played for the fun of it and naturally found the strokes we used.

The current coach is already suggesting me to be the head coach when she retires in a couple of years, but I would have a lot of work to do to feel prepared for such a position.

Any suggestions for getting ready? I'd like to be more of a help than a hindrance as an assistant.

09-02-2006, 09:10 AM
Read some books about coaching in general. I don`t mean tennis, but coaching, you know the difference. Learn by doing! Could you describe what your job will be like?

09-02-2006, 10:06 AM
The "Tennis in a Can" program, by Bollettieri, is a very good program. It contains drills, practice format etc.. It's worth the investment

09-02-2006, 10:21 AM
As a former assistant coach & current head coach @ the H.S. I played @ & currently teach @, I have 1 very important piece of advice for any assistant coach. NEVER EVER undermine the direction & opinions of the head coach, regardless of whether or not you agree w/his coaching techniques, strategies, lineups, etc. If you disagree w/his coaching, NEVER display this publicly to the team. Sometimes, this is a very difficult thing to do b/c often the assistant (which I was) has much more 'tennis' or 'coaching' experience than the head coach. I was an unenviable situation that I was mentoring under my H.S. varsity coach who had been coaching 30+ years. I had much more tennis instruction & strategy knowledge then he did, as I was going for my PTR certification & had played college & high level tournaments. He had 'experience' going for him, but alas, he couldn't bring the team to the next level. I had a very difficult time keeping my mouth shut when I disagreed with him, but I wasn't going to be insubordinate either. I politely made suggestions in private, & we worked together to coach the team using all of our resources.

09-02-2006, 11:32 AM
If you disagree with a head coach you should discuss that with him, not with your players. Although, if you`re head coach isn`t certified, I think he has no right to speak.

09-02-2006, 11:40 AM
Coaching in H.S.'s in the state of N.J. requires no certification other then a substitute's license (the bare minimum) OR a teaching license. This can vary from district to district however. No tennis qualifications are necessary. I would say a new coach, regardless of their pre-coaching tennis experience would listen to someone who has been coaching tennis for 40+ years. Now that I'm the head coach @ my mentor is now the asst. coach, I'm still going to pick his brain for some advice after his 40 years of coaching.

09-02-2006, 12:27 PM
I wouldn`t listen to anybody who has been coaching for 40 years and has no license. If you are too lazy to spend a weekend on a license if you have been coaching for 40 years you are not worth listening to.

09-02-2006, 12:39 PM
Nicky, you're not getting it. Most coaches @ the H.S. level do it out of their love for the game, an interest for the game, have prior playing experience @ various levels or unfortunately the paycheck (albeit meager @ best). In most states, they all have one thing in common...The are teachers, or involved somehow in education. Besides there is no such thing as a coaching license. Do football coaches or bowling coaches have sport-specific licensure? Nope. I happen to be a H.S. teacher who has his PTR certification who coaches H.S. tennis.

09-02-2006, 01:03 PM
Read "Coaching Tennis" by Chuck Kriese.

And if you are looking for a good inventory of drills:

Tennis Tactics: Winning Patterns of Play, by the USTA

09-02-2006, 01:04 PM
I understand there is no coaching license, but there are teaching certifications in the US..uspta...ptr... From what I understand of your postings it are just teachers interested in sport, they are more coaching-based instead of teaching based. Do I express this correctly?

09-02-2006, 01:24 PM
For the most part, if you're PTA OR PTR certified, & looking to make a name for yourself (& get a paycheck) in the tennis coaching/instructing world, are you going to work for a few grand coaching @ H.S. team or are you going to teach @ a club making upwards of $75 an hour? You're going to teach @ a club.
Unfortunately @ this stage in my life, tennis coaching/teaching is not my life or profession, so I do the best I can to mix education, coaching & teaching. During the summers, I am a full-time instructor @ a camp.

Trinity TC
09-02-2006, 03:15 PM
I'd recommend Harvey Penick's Game For A Lifetime: More Lessons and Teachings (http://www.amazon.com/Game-Lifetime-More-Lessons-Teachings/dp/0684800594/ref=pd_sim_b_2/002-8520384-3474438?ie=UTF8). It's a golf book but offers insight into the teaching/learning process. Many books are technique heavy but really don't help when it comes to communicating with and inspiring your students.:cool:

09-02-2006, 03:58 PM
Honestly, High School coaches are notorious for not really knowing much. Sure, you might get lucky as a player and get a good coach, but the majority of high school coaches literally don't do any coaching.

I'm not trying to harp on you, or anything, it's just that nobody really expects that much from a public high school coach. All you need to do is keep practices going and the kids motivated. Besides, your varsity kids should *hopefully* already possess the basic strokes, just say things like "take that earlier" or "move your feet more". Stuff like that always applies, no matter how good a player you're talking to.

09-02-2006, 04:22 PM
Make your kids work. I know that, as a highschool player, you could know a lot about tennis...you could be a great player, but if you're a soft coach....then get out.

Sounds rough, but after 2 coaches who are like that, you get sick of it. Build a solid program, be rigid about attending practice, and other common sense things.

09-02-2006, 05:29 PM
tennisnj do you live in Bergen County if so where, becuase I live in Closter. Also, you should try to schedule once a week every week a meeting to discuss strategy up and coming players stuff like that.

09-02-2006, 05:50 PM
Thebosher, I've lived in Bergen County all my life, just moved from Hasbrouck Heights to Dumont in June.

Mahboob Khan
09-02-2006, 05:56 PM
First you should have passion for tennis teaching. And of course, you learn by doing, and get some certification. Go to this website: www.ptrtennis.org, and also read some articles at www.tennisplayer.net.

As I understand you correctly, you should not coach without certification because you have no idea about teaching and coaching. You want to coach because your head coach asked you to do so! Do YOU have the passion for it?

09-02-2006, 06:29 PM
interesting topic. I will watch this thread.

09-03-2006, 06:00 AM
Thanks very much for the helpful replies all. As for background, I've been teaching for 7 years now and I do have a good grip on instruction.

I'm usually the guy at school who takes on all the extra-curricular responsibilities. I am the Skills USA head advisor, I'm the gifted and talented coordinator, the tech-prep site coordinator. I travel to our 3 "feeder" high schools and give presentations and encourage enrollment, and any other job that tends to pop up and needs taken care of.

The other posters here who are teachers will know what I mean when I say that some of the other teachers aren't exactly "enthusiastic" about their jobs. I don't receive any extra pay for any of these duties but they genuinely help some of the students, and there's just no one else willing to do it.

I never do anything half way so I will have to bite my tongue to not step on the coach's toes.

I have been surprised by some of the players. I have asked them something like "Do you use a continental grip on serve?" only to be give an blank uncomprehending stare. They just hold it any old way and smack it. If you start talking about the different types of strings, beam thickness, flex, headheavyness, etc.. many of the players aren't as informed about their equipment as they could be.

The current coach doesn't know how to string (and I've been learning for a few months myself) so I believe I could help there (the school has a gamma dropweight).

I've read Gilberts books, and Macs book, but they have very little on coaching. I'll have to check some of the references listed here and start learning more about the actual coaching process.

I want to video the kids, show them side by sides of their strokes compared to the pros. I want to have workshops on stringing and customizing their racquets. I have a lot of things I'd like to do to improve the team. I guess I really want to help and not simply be an unpaid, 35 year old ball boy.

09-03-2006, 06:03 AM
What is the point of customizing a racquet and knowing all about different types of strings if you can`t even serve properly?

09-03-2006, 12:15 PM
What is the point of customizing a racquet and knowing all about different types of strings if you can`t even serve properly?

I'm talking about the kids who have been playing for 2 and 3 years for the team. They buy a racquet based on what the pros are playing. They don't know their grip size half the time or are playing with the wrong size. They're playing a pure drive with year old strings. Some of them have very decent strokes, but a little confidence in their equipment couldn't hurt.

09-03-2006, 03:57 PM
You can't do as much as you'd like as a high school tennis coach. Keep in mind that most of your players you're only going to see a few weeks before the tennis season starts and then once the tennis season ends, they'll be gone. For the most part, with your players who will be in your starting line up, you can't really make many changes to their games because they don't have any time to develop and work out the kinks before they have to start playing matches that count. You just have to work with fine tuning what they have. The most important thing you can do is get them into shape. You have to make them run a lot. That's one thing that's completely in your hands. If a player isn't in shape, it's pretty much all on the coaches.

I agree with previous posts that you should never argue with the head coach in front of the players or go against anything they say. If you have any problems, work it out after practice when the kids are all gone.

I know plenty of good coaches around here that aren't certified. There are former college players that aren't certified, but they know just as most anyone because they've been through the drills and lessons and can use that as a basis for their practices.

If you're coaching girls, there's a lot that you're going to need to learn, but there's no way to prepare you for it lol. Guys are a lot easier.

Geezer Guy
09-05-2006, 12:21 PM
I believe the USTA has a training program aimed at people that want to teach tennis at the "recreational" level. This is a step below (or maybe an entire story below) the USPTA and PTR levels of certification. It's aimed at volunteers at the local level. You may be able to find out more about it and USTA.com.

Best of luck - this could be a very rewarding (or very frustrating) experience.