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What’s Your Pre – Game Coach

Our job is one of the most demanding there is!  We need the patience of a school teacher; the endurance to coach for hours on end; the concentration to be “with it” for all our tennis kids; the discipline to do our office work and the enthusiasm to motivate our students lesson after lesson.

When the weather gets cold and wet; and the early mornings and late evenings become harder to face what do you do to keep your energy high and your mind focussed?

Every time we coach we need to treat it like a match; like a performance.  And just like any match we competed in during our playing careers, we need a solid “pre- game” to make sure we perform.  Our tennis kids are relying on us.  We have to accelerate their learning and we can only do that if we are at the top of our game.

Here are 4 great ways to make sure you are primed to perform for every coaching session.

  1. Diet

2 or 3 times a week I used to fuel myself up with a can of Coke and a raspberry muffin if I was feeling uninspired.  I got a pretty decent boost too.  But the “sugar down” I got an hour later sapped any good energy I had left.  My doctor told me I was getting “fake” energy, I had to change my ways.

Caffeine.  Caffeine has been described as the best “legal” performance enhancing drug available.  Once banned by the IOC, caffeine is fuel for your mind and body.  A good short black 30 minutes before you go on court is a great way get your focus and energy high.

Don’t forget that your body adapts to the caffeine you consume.  Do you know anyone who drinks 6 cups of coffee a day and still looks half asleep?  It’s because they have a caffeine habit and their body no longer responds.  Include caffeine free days and even weeks to keep your system receptive.

Nuts and Dried Fruit.  A handful of nuts and dried fruits will give you the energy and the fats you need to be firing during your 5th lesson of the night.

Bananas (and all fresh fruit).  Your brain uses the glucose contained in fruits to function.  It is an obvious one, but athletes like tennis coaches need the natural energy fruits like banana’s provide to handle the physical and mental workload of their jobs.

  1. Music

Music can inspire you.  Can turn your mood from flat to energized.  The secret is to create a playlist of your favourite songs that get you into the groove to perform.  Is it Rocky or is it classical.  With iTunes and Spotify you can design a playlist that will get you into your ideal performance state.  Put the tracks on in the car on your way to the club and turn the volume up.

  1. Inspirational Quotes

The recent death of Muhammed Ali reminded me how uplifting words can be.  Ali was peerless in his ability to generate inspirational quotes which still resonate today.  Find a quote from leader who you find inspiring; Ali, Steve Jobs, Nelson Mandela or your favourite tennis player or athlete.  Write the quote on a blank piece of paper and stick it above your work station to remind yourself it’s your job to inspire your tennis kids and positive language is a great way to start.  Just google ‘inspirational quotes’ to get started.

  1. Inspirational images and videos

If you are more of a visual person then exploit that orientation.  Get on youtube and search for ‘inspirational videos.’  Maybe search for highlights of the 2009 Wimbledon Final between Nadal and Federer (my personal favourite).  Stick up a poster of Federer hitting a majestic backhand, Serena crushing a serve or Djokovic sliding to wide ball while he relentlessly retrieves every shot.  Whatever fires your imagination and gets you in the zone.


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So what’s your Rocket Fuel?  What puts you in a great state to attack the challenges of coaching day after day.  I have seen the demands of the job be too much for dozens of aspiring coaches over the years.  What I never advised coaches on before now, was ways to get themselves primed to perform.  Start with these four and attack tennis coaching with a performance mindset.  Your tennis kids are depending on you.


For more detail on how to get yourself and your tennis kids primed to perform check out the e9 article – Priming – Setting the Scene for a Great Lesson




RufusRufus Keown is a member of the e9 Professional Development Team

He is Director of the Victorian Tennis Academy, in Melbourne Australia and a Course Facilitator for Tennis Australia.




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