When coach and parent don't agree on something....

TennisDawg

Hall of Fame
This falls on the coach. He should be able to explain why he chooses that grip. Especially if a student hits well already. Maybe a grip change is needed but the coach should explain it. Federer uses an EFH grip or Nadal uses a SW is not necessarily a good reason for a grip change. Any change always involves relearning your stroke to some degree.
 

3loudboys

Legend
I would agree that the coach needs to have good reasoning when changing grips. It has to be a purposeful change not just because it is a popular choice or the current big technical thing with national tennis authorities. It's usually forehand grips that are the subject of most scrutiny yet there are great players with every type of grip proving for me that it's what suits the player. Here are a few forehands that have done pretty well:

Eastern - Del Potro, Federer (extreme eastern)
Semi Western - Nadal, Gonzalez, Soderling, Murray, Ferrer
3/4 Western - Djokovic
Western - Edmund, Sock, Kachanov, Kyrgios
Haiwaiin - Baresategui

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Knox

Semi-Pro
For example, grip change. Coach says the kid should go with Semi-Western but the parent wants to see eastern forehand grip. Parent is a Federer fan, can careless what's better for modern tennis. Parent wants to see a little Roger Federer clone.

What would you do if a coach and parent don't see eye to eye on something? I would love to hear from both coach and parent's perspectives.
Where does the players choice come in to play amidst all this?

In my view, if you side with either the coach or the parent in this case then you deny the player their agency.

It's THE KID'S GAME. Not the coaches game, not the players game.

The coach and parent can educate and inform the player, but at the end of the day it's the players choice and I think it's a huge mistake for a coach or a parent to tell a kid how they SHOULD be playing.

I'm all for persuading players to make decisions that will enable them to play better and win more, but in a way that preserves their freedom of choice and doesn't infringe on their personal expression.

As a coach, my default mode is to help players model their games how THEY want, which usually involves building a game that is a blend of all the strengths from their favorite players. If a parent were to come to me and ask me to develop their kid in a way that isn't in alignment with how the kid wants to play, I would respectfully decline and inform the parent about my beliefs regarding player choice.

If the parent wants to deny their child the freedom to express themselves through their tennis game then I'm not interested in working with that parent. I'd fire them.
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
Where does the players choice come in to play amidst all this?

In my view, if you side with either the coach or the parent in this case then you deny the player their agency.

It's THE KID'S GAME. Not the coaches game, not the players game.

The coach and parent can educate and inform the player, but at the end of the day it's the players choice and I think it's a huge mistake for a coach or a parent to tell a kid how they SHOULD be playing.

I'm all for persuading players to make decisions that will enable them to play better and win more, but in a way that preserves their freedom of choice and doesn't infringe on their personal expression.

As a coach, my default mode is to help players model their games how THEY want, which usually involves building a game that is a blend of all the strengths from their favorite players. If a parent were to come to me and ask me to develop their kid in a way that isn't in alignment with how the kid wants to play, I would respectfully decline and inform the parent about my beliefs regarding player choice.

If the parent wants to deny their child the freedom to express themselves through their tennis game then I'm not interested in working with that parent. I'd fire them.
Depends on the age of the kid. The older they get the more their vote counts.

J
 

3loudboys

Legend
Where does the players choice come in to play amidst all this?

In my view, if you side with either the coach or the parent in this case then you deny the player their agency.

It's THE KID'S GAME. Not the coaches game, not the players game.

The coach and parent can educate and inform the player, but at the end of the day it's the players choice and I think it's a huge mistake for a coach or a parent to tell a kid how they SHOULD be playing.

I'm all for persuading players to make decisions that will enable them to play better and win more, but in a way that preserves their freedom of choice and doesn't infringe on their personal expression.

As a coach, my default mode is to help players model their games how THEY want, which usually involves building a game that is a blend of all the strengths from their favorite players. If a parent were to come to me and ask me to develop their kid in a way that isn't in alignment with how the kid wants to play, I would respectfully decline and inform the parent about my beliefs regarding player choice.

If the parent wants to deny their child the freedom to express themselves through their tennis game then I'm not interested in working with that parent. I'd fire them.
Agree it's the kids journey and has to be driven by them. But as Jolly says the younger the kids are the less informed their choices. I wouldnt let a 6 year old create their own diet or we'd be clearing up fast food cartons and sweet wrappers. As they grow up it's my experience that they make their own judgements on what feels best and the coaching becomes structured around what works and what they feel comfortable with. The Spanish have a great philosophy of making the best out of natural abilities and firmly believe in this. My kids all played high level tennis and with their experience it would be foolish to ignore their opinions.

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3loudboys

Legend
Love the idea of firing a parent and there a few I love to be a fly on the wall for that conversation. Hope that everyone had their health insurance fully paid up.

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giantschwinn

Semi-Pro
Sometimes the disagreement is not so black and white. The disagreement could be on the approach or the method of teaching. For example, my kid's coach wants him to hit 20 pancake serves into the service box before he would proceed to teach him the complete serve motion. The idea is he wants him to have control of where the serve goes. I don't agree with his approach of teaching pancakes but I kept my mouth shut. How would you guys handle a situation like this?

Since the lessons are all cancelled due to the shutdown, I decided to teach him serve myself. I spent a week undoing the pancake serve. If the coach had taught him slice from the beginning I wouldn't need to spend time undoing the pancake serve.
 

chic

Professional
Sometimes the disagreement is not so black and white. The disagreement could be on the approach or the method of teaching. For example, my kid's coach wants him to hit 20 pancake serves into the service box before he would proceed to teach him the complete serve motion. The idea is he wants him to have control of where the serve goes. I don't agree with his approach of teaching pancakes but I kept my mouth shut. How would you guys handle a situation like this?

Since the lessons are all cancelled due to the shutdown, I decided to teach him serve myself. I spent a week undoing the pancake serve. If the coach had taught him slice from the beginning I wouldn't need to spend time undoing the pancake serve.
I mean. I think the pandemic is throwing a bit of a wrench in any and all plans coaches my have had. Makes sense to go out and teach him as best you can. Also, in all likelihood just some good bonding time with your family! (How old is your kid btw?)

But when all this is over I think you might wanna look around for a coach who's general philosophy meshes with yours better, or who's willing to walk you through their methodology at least.
 

3loudboys

Legend
Sometimes the disagreement is not so black and white. The disagreement could be on the approach or the method of teaching. For example, my kid's coach wants him to hit 20 pancake serves into the service box before he would proceed to teach him the complete serve motion. The idea is he wants him to have control of where the serve goes. I don't agree with his approach of teaching pancakes but I kept my mouth shut. How would you guys handle a situation like this?

Since the lessons are all cancelled due to the shutdown, I decided to teach him serve myself. I spent a week undoing the pancake serve. If the coach had taught him slice from the beginning I wouldn't need to spend time undoing the pancake serve.
If you're feeling that you dont agree on the coaching methods then it's time to have a good think whether this coach is for you. With regard to the serve warm up my youngest sons coach who was formerly top 10 nationally also advised a slow rhythmic serve warm up before speeding it up. Perhaps chat with him about it.

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giantschwinn

Semi-Pro
If you're feeling that you dont agree on the coaching methods then it's time to have a good think whether this coach is for you.
It's more like I agree with some of his methods and disagree with some of his other methods. How do you guys feel about going around the coach and teach your kid something that you feel you can do better than the coach?
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
It's more like I agree with some of his methods and disagree with some of his other methods. How do you guys feel about going around the coach and teach your kid something that you feel you can do better than the coach?
Either find a good coach and let him do his job or do it yourself.

Right now you are that awful tennis parent.

J
 

3loudboys

Legend
It's more like I agree with some of his methods and disagree with some of his other methods. How do you guys feel about going around the coach and teach your kid something that you feel you can do better than the coach?
Its not a good idea from my experience to circumvent the coach - its best that you buy into their teachings and you work with them to reinforce that. If you have something that you feel needs to be worked on tell the coach and then work together on it.
 

giantschwinn

Semi-Pro
Its not a good idea from my experience to circumvent the coach - its best that you buy into their teachings and you work with them to reinforce that. If you have something that you feel needs to be worked on tell the coach and then work together on it.
I agree and I am trying to not become that "awful" parent. But you see the coach sees him once a week for private. I am feeding him balls and play with him 3 times a week. The temptation to go ahead and teach is too great to resist.
 

3loudboys

Legend
I agree and I am trying to not become that "awful" parent. But you see the coach sees him once a week for private. I am feeding him balls and play with him 3 times a week. The temptation to go ahead and teach is too great to resist.
One hour a week is not a long time to spend with the coach. You could organise a meeting with the coach where you discuss reinforcing what your son has been working on in his indi's. That way you work together and your son gets the benefit of coach led teachings for more than 1 hour per week.
 

Fedinkum

Legend
Yo
Completely agree. We parents take the kids to the tournaments and put the hard hours in with them after they have had their 1 hour individual technical lesson. For me coaches need to get out more often and watch the kids play in a tournament situation. How can a coach know that their teachings are effective if they do not take the time to watch their student compete and the technique in action? We can all modify technical aspects of our game in the comfort zone of a lesson or a hit. I have spoken with coaches about this several times and most argue they need payment for that time which I can understand to some extent. I counter it with the fact that all professionals do some unpaid overtime - its just the way of it.
You basically wanted someone else’s time for free to benefit your kid. A true professional knows their values and get paid for their expertise, unpaid works is the exact opposite of being a professional.
 

3loudboys

Legend
Yo

You basically wanted someone else’s time for free to benefit your kid. A true professional knows their values and get paid for their expertise, unpaid works is the exact opposite of being a professional.
No - I've paid quite a lot of money to the coaches my children have had over the years and the majority of them agree that they need to get out and watch the kids play - only one has asked for a contribution to expenses. Just for your information all my kids coaches have competed at an International or at the very least National level so they have a good feel for the current tennis requirements and fees required. Also, lets be clear my kids compete at a performance level and this is not some '10 bob' exercise but a carefully crafted program within a structured academy - oh and that's quite expensive as well with pricing that includes such 'inconvenience'. Who would of thought a professional would want to see the result of their work?

You have also failed to mention that I suggested getting out to watch them play twice a year and choosing convenient tournament and location. A tennis coach NEEDS to see the student perform, why would you NOT want to as a committed professional. Your definition of professional is geared to money same as a taxi driver, when the meters running your interesting. Not a good basis for any long term relationship tennis or otherwise. I am a professional and my first thought is to get the job done and if there is additional time required then I get it done anyway.
 

giantschwinn

Semi-Pro
I don't agree tennis coaches going to tournaments only benefit the parents. Why do real estate agents host open houses for free? Because it's where the leads are generated. It's where you meet your potential clients. It's not poaching if the other parents ask you for the phone number.
 

giantschwinn

Semi-Pro
Also, in all likelihood just some good bonding time with your family! (How old is your kid btw?)
My kid is 6. He is on an accelerated schedule to join his old man's 4.5 weekend doubles game. If he progresses at the same rate as the top juniors in our sectional, he will be able to join our doubles play when he turns 10.
 

3loudboys

Legend
I don't agree tennis coaches going to tournaments only benefit the parents. Why do real estate agents host open houses for free? Because it's where the leads are generated. It's where you meet your potential clients. It's not poaching if the other parents ask you for the phone number.
Its for everyone's benefit especially the player. Finances are tough at the moment so I understand that it is contentious and it also depends on how you view your time. It is ironic in many respects as I have given advice from my professional expertise to my kids coaches over the years for nothing - no invoice in the post and certainly no cash transactions. I will always refer the good coaches to fellow parents and I know of coaches who have benefited from my referrals with regular bookings and years of additional revenue - sometimes this goodwill which is what I spoke of earlier is ignored or taken for granted. I was also Tennis Captain or head of the tennis section of my club for 5 years and performed that role for nothing for the benefit of all the tennis stakeholders, coaches included. Its a big club and required a significant investment of my time but I am glad I did it.
 

chic

Professional
My kid is 6. He is on an accelerated schedule to join his old man's 4.5 weekend doubles game. If he progresses at the same rate as the top juniors in our sectional, he will be able to join our doubles play when he turns 10.
Yeah, especially at such a young age I would encourage you to find a coach (the coach you have may already be one) with exp getting juniors to high level. Have a conversation about what you want your kid to get out of tennis (d1, junior Nat, just be good locally, whatever) and then let them tell you their plan/system for someone on that track.

If the plan sounds good to you, and they have experience getting kids to high level, trust them to do their job.

Technique changes can be made when older but a lot of fundamentals are better taught young. These forehand and backhand grip specifics aren't as important and semi-western will be flexible to Western or eastern when the kids is older and stronger/taller since it's in between them

Thiem switched to his 1hbh at like 15.
 

joffa101

New User
I think it is really healthy for a junior to change grips and play with it for a while. It makes the players think about the swing path and speed needed to play with a new grip. It makes them understand swing dynamics a bit more. It means as they get older they can change grips for different shots as needed.
 
I would say Interview the coach and see if you like the general philosophy. For example if you like a modern topspin game and he teaches conti flat hits it won't make much sense.

But once the general philosophy aligns and you trust him step back and don't get involved in little details.
 

giantschwinn

Semi-Pro
But once the general philosophy aligns and you trust him step back and don't get involved in little details.
My instruction to him is "teach Federer forehand." I think I am making his life easy by giving specific instructions. Most parents are like make my kid good, make him a winner. Mine is just teach the Federer forehand.
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
My instruction to him is "teach Federer forehand." I think I am making his life easy by giving specific instructions. Most parents are like make my kid good, make him a winner. Mine is just teach the Federer forehand.
Hahahahahahaha.

My kid is 6 and I want him to play 4.5 doubles with my friends asap, so teach him the Federer forehand.

J
 

3loudboys

Legend
Doesn't Fed have a forehand grip between Eastern and Semi Western, or Extreme Eastern? His technique is well documented and there are several articles about the mechanics of it, not to mention the threads on this forum. Question to the coaches - is the Fed forehand model harder to teach and if so which aspects of it?

I am aware of the LTA's recommended tuition have completed Levels 1 and 2 of their coaching courses and discussing with LTA performance coaches. Is there a preferred teaching method in the US recommended by the USTA?
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
Doesn't Fed have a forehand grip between Eastern and Semi Western, or Extreme Eastern? His technique is well documented and there are several articles about the mechanics of it, not to mention the threads on this forum. Question to the coaches - is the Fed forehand model harder to teach and if so which aspects of it?

I am aware of the LTA's recommended tuition have completed Levels 1 and 2 of their coaching courses and discussing with LTA performance coaches. Is there a preferred teaching method in the US recommended by the USTA?
No, the Fed FH as a model is not harder to teach, it is harder for younger kids to execute because they struggle to keep the tip of the racquet up and spacing takes a while to develop.

I start laying the groundwork for the professional forehand around 8 years old, but kind of steer them away from anything crazy before that which might become a habit. I allow a range of grips/arm bends/stances as they grow; especially important and susceptible to change as they are growing. It's easy for adults to forget what these kids are going through, they are in a different body every couple weeks at some points. Imagine you take three steps and hit an absolutely perfect forehand, then two weeks later you take the exact same three steps and swing only to shank the ball into the next county because your contact point is 6" different than it was two weeks ago.

As they mature, the growing slows, and they get stronger things begin to come into focus, once they reach full size (I know that sounds weird) their game should be shaped and then you really work on polishing so that you have a very nice vessel for when their man-strength kicks in around 20. With girls this process is accelerated as they mature faster and don't get the extra dose of rocket fuel that boys do in the 17-22 area.

As far as the preferred teaching method of the USTA? The USTA is the governing body of the sport, and they have a high performance program and a bunch of B.S. recreational programs, but there are also two certifying bodies, the USPTA and PTR, which certify the professionals in their teaching methods. You need one of those certifications to get insurance and teach in the US and everybody has their preferred methods, but it's really a mess.

J
 

onehandbh

Legend
Where does the players choice come in to play amidst all this?

In my view, if you side with either the coach or the parent in this case then you deny the player their agency.

It's THE KID'S GAME. Not the coaches game, not the players game.

The coach and parent can educate and inform the player, but at the end of the day it's the players choice and I think it's a huge mistake for a coach or a parent to tell a kid how they SHOULD be playing.

I'm all for persuading players to make decisions that will enable them to play better and win more, but in a way that preserves their freedom of choice and doesn't infringe on their personal expression.

As a coach, my default mode is to help players model their games how THEY want, which usually involves building a game that is a blend of all the strengths from their favorite players. If a parent were to come to me and ask me to develop their kid in a way that isn't in alignment with how the kid wants to play, I would respectfully decline and inform the parent about my beliefs regarding player choice.

If the parent wants to deny their child the freedom to express themselves through their tennis game then I'm not interested in working with that parent. I'd fire them.
Hypothetical situation:

Kid only wants to use a eastern FH or semi-western FH grip to hit his serves pancake style.
Would you encourage him to continue using this technique?
 

giantschwinn

Semi-Pro
Kid only wants to use a eastern FH or semi-western FH grip to hit his serves pancake style.
Would you encourage him to continue using this technique?
The thing about tennis coaching is different coaches will tell you different things. And they all think their method is the right one and everyone else's is wrong. I listen to Chris Lewit's podcast and I am brain washed by him. He is a believer in teaching the complete strokes from the beginning. No pancakes, continental grip for serve from the start and pro-looking full swings from a young age. It will take a little longer to learn but once the kid gets it, you are done. No need to redo it when they are 8.
 

zipplock

Hall of Fame
It takes 4 hours out of your day (at least) to go to a tournament and watch a match. Usually those four hours are during prime lesson time. So money aside, you are asking the coach to reschedule or cancel 4 hours of lessons, or have a program run down a coach shorting other kids what they paid for. Now nobody wants 4 hours of reschedules for one day, NOBODY. What happens when the other parents want you to watch their kids play in tournaments for free?

How would you react if (presuming you work) you were told to drop whatever you were doing for half a day and do something else for free, then figure out how to make up your lost work?

All pros do some unpaid overtime, but it comes in chunks of 15 minutes here, 30 minutes there, etc. it should not be expected. The pro doesn't walk up to the parent and say "give me $500." and when the parent argues that they have to give lessons counter with "all parents give bonuses - it's just the way of it."

J
Quick fix is to have two students play a set with the coach watching. Doesn't take too much time. Pretty easy to observe if what's being practiced is being integrated in a match setting. My kids coach did this and it worked great.
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
Quick fix is to have two students play a set with the coach watching. Doesn't take too much time. Pretty easy to observe if what's being practiced is being integrated in a match setting. My kids coach did this and it worked great.
We do this all the time, but of course tournaments are different from challenge matches, groups, or lessons.

J
 

3loudboys

Legend
No, the Fed FH as a model is not harder to teach, it is harder for younger kids to execute because they struggle to keep the tip of the racquet up and spacing takes a while to develop.

I start laying the groundwork for the professional forehand around 8 years old, but kind of steer them away from anything crazy before that which might become a habit. I allow a range of grips/arm bends/stances as they grow; especially important and susceptible to change as they are growing. It's easy for adults to forget what these kids are going through, they are in a different body every couple weeks at some points. Imagine you take three steps and hit an absolutely perfect forehand, then two weeks later you take the exact same three steps and swing only to shank the ball into the next county because your contact point is 6" different than it was two weeks ago.

As they mature, the growing slows, and they get stronger things begin to come into focus, once they reach full size (I know that sounds weird) their game should be shaped and then you really work on polishing so that you have a very nice vessel for when their man-strength kicks in around 20. With girls this process is accelerated as they mature faster and don't get the extra dose of rocket fuel that boys do in the 17-22 area.

As far as the preferred teaching method of the USTA? The USTA is the governing body of the sport, and they have a high performance program and a bunch of B.S. recreational programs, but there are also two certifying bodies, the USPTA and PTR, which certify the professionals in their teaching methods. You need one of those certifications to get insurance and teach in the US and everybody has their preferred methods, but it's really a mess.

J
Thanks for that that is really insightful and consistent with what my kids coaches practise, particularly staying on top of them as mini's with grips which are prone to slide round at that age. I also like your philosophy of being flexible to the individual player so that their natural ability can be honed rather than reshaped, unless of course, there is an absolute need to.

I was curious about the USTA whether they had any programs for high performance players and whether this was conditional on complying with specific technique instruction? I nearly enrolled on a PTR course and wished I had now.
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
Thanks for that that is really insightful and consistent with what my kids coaches practise, particularly staying on top of them as mini's with grips which are prone to slide round at that age. I also like your philosophy of being flexible to the individual player so that their natural ability can be honed rather than reshaped, unless of course, there is an absolute need to.

I was curious about the USTA whether they had any programs for high performance players and whether this was conditional on complying with specific technique instruction? I nearly enrolled on a PTR course and wished I had now.
They do but as far as I have seen it's a total Frankenstein monster hodge podge type of thing.

Everybody thinks they know best and wants to do things their way.

I don't have an answer but I don't think the way they are doing things is working.

J
 

Knox

Semi-Pro
Hypothetical situation:

Kid only wants to use a eastern FH or semi-western FH grip to hit his serves pancake style.
Would you encourage him to continue using this technique?
I'd inform them about the limitations and potential of that choice and explore whether the choice will be a hindrance to them reaching their goals.

Whichever direction they choose I'd help them get the most out of it.... that being said if a player had lofty competitive goals I would definitely campaign to incept a desire to learn advanced serve technique.
 

EP1998

Semi-Pro
For example, grip change. Coach says the kid should go with Semi-Western but the parent wants to see eastern forehand grip. Parent is a Federer fan, can careless what's better for modern tennis. Parent wants to see a little Roger Federer clone.

What would you do if a coach and parent don't see eye to eye on something? I would love to hear from both coach and parent's perspectives.
Find a pro (male or female) who loves to coach the Federer forehand. They are out there.
 

mental midget

Hall of Fame
just on the forehand grip thing...depends how far along their game is and also imo, how tall they are. if you’re tall-ish all things being equal i think an eastern fh has advantages, easier power, more accuracy, etc. delpotro, tsitsipas...but if you’re 5’8 and catching every fh neck height...getting under the racket a bit is a good thing.
 

Curiosity

Professional
OK OK I can't take it any more -I confess: When my son was twelve I lost faith in the local coaching. I was convinced (and rightly) that while most of them played reasonably well, they didn't really know what they were doing and had lots in their game that was idiosyncratic. Fortunately, there was a very good coach in town for a few months, Joe Brandi. I took the kid to him and he started the kid on a OHBH. He was very patient, soft-spoken, and effective. At one point he was working on the grip and (integral to that) the angle of the racquet handle to the forearm. I actually said, and this is embarrassing, "doesn't Pete hold it with much more angle to his forearm?" Joe just looked at me and softly said "yeah, but not until he'd hit 10,000 backhands holding it the way I'm introducing it." Well, I never said another word...
Three or four years later I took the kid to Smith/Stearns for a few weeks, our first father/son road trip. When I wasn't hitting with other people, I'd watch the kid and the others from the bleachers of the stadium court, looking over toward the clinic courts. Never said a word. Smith did more for the kid's serve in a short private bit than other coaches had done in many hours. Pick a suitable coach on good information. Let him (or her) do his thing.
 

Knox

Semi-Pro
Joe just looked at me and softly said "yeah, but not until he'd hit 10,000 backhands holding it the way I'm introducing it
I'm always skeptical of coaching claims like this.

How did Joe know that? Was he following Pete's development closely enough to actually have that info?

Whenever coaches pull the "xyz pro player did it my way in order to learn how to do it their way" it strikes me as made up BS intended to establish themselves as the authority.

Burden of proof is on them, and it's a guilty-until-proven-innocent situation.

Edit:

Lol. I'm a doofus. Joe Brandi coached Sampras firsthand. Innocence: proven!
 
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