1. Give your players your undivided attention. Listen carefully to them. If you listen closely enough, they will tell you what they want.

  2. Put your cell phone down. Don’t answer it. Don’t check it. Unless you are taking approved video of a player, needing emergency medical treatment for you or one of your players, keep the cell phone in your pocket.

  3. “Stay in your Lane.” Understand the tennis skill sets you possess and don’t. If you are a certified by the USPTA or PTR, make sure your players know that. Your valuable education is their education. If you have no tennis education, get some. The USTA has many online videos that can help you. The USPTA and PTR have entry level certifications designed for high school coaches.

  4. Important!! Have a teaching philosophy. Don’t have one? Develop one. Footwork, fitness, stroke production, etc. Pick one and build your players around it. It serves as a great focus point to your player development. Mine is footwork and positioning. It has never failed me.

  5. Make sure you have all the tools you will need on the court. Tennis balls, drop down lines, back-up racket, water, targets, cones, etc. Make a checklist and live by it.


  6. Have a lesson plan, team goal of the day, and a back-up plan. It might rain. If you have a long line of players hitting one ball and then moving to the back of the line, you will lose a quarter of your players after the first week, if they last that long. Have drills with quick rotations, have fitness areas, areas where players work on eye-hand drills, lateral movement drills. Everyone should be moving.

  7. Look professional. You are representing your school, your kids, and your profession. No hats on backwards, no cut-offs, don’t wear the clothes you changed the car oil in. Team logo wear works well.

  8. Make sure your players know who the coach is. Look your players in the eye. Introduce yourself and once again, give them your credentials in tennis if you have them. Oh yeah, years you have played tennis is a credential. Be fair but firm. Compromise will become a way of life at the high school level. Be empathetic and caring.

  9. Understand what makes a good warm-up. Mini-tennis, eye-hand coordination movements. High stepping, lateral movements and light plyometrics are a good start.

  10. Make sure you and your players are on the same page. If things seem out of sync, they probably are. Bring everyone together, re-explain the drill or instruction and then break out. Never try to bark commands or corrections over multiple courts or from one end of the court to the other.

  11. Carefully evaluate your players’ abilities. Are they athletic? How is their depth perception? Are they visual or auditory learners? How is their movement, especially lateral? All questions you need to ask and answer. The best way is to test your players. Come up with a simple Tennis Combine to answer the questions. The combine should include lateral movement, quickness, and power tests.

  12. Can you diagnose players stroke production errors and provide cures for them? This is where the rubber meets the road. You’ll need to educate yourself on tennis specific movement, shot tracking and spacing, grip issues, racquet swing paths and contact points. Every player will be different. The swings will look different. You won’t be able to fix everything. Prioritize your players’ issues. Fix the extreme cases first.

  13. Learn to feed properly! Not Negotiable!! This will make or break a coach or teaching professional. Your ability to put the ball in a space that will ensure your player’s swing success is maybe the most important skill you can possess.

  14. You have to be able to execute all the shots. From cross-court drop shops to slice serves to slice backhands. You really cannot successfully teach anything you don’t know how to do yourself.

  15. Understand the basics of tennis biomechanics. You need to understand the basics of what it takes physically to hit a tennis ball and move around the court. Best references: The Tennis Mechanics Manual by Leigh Brandon & Paul Chek; Tennis Anatomy by Mark Kovacs.

  16. Be a good time manager. Your time is limited with your players. Don’t waste any of it. A written plan will help here.

  17. Communication, communication, communication. Speak clearly, be positive, be thoughtful. Never speak to your players as you are walking away.

  18. Be safe on the court. Make sure players clear balls before drilling or playing points. Courts should be clear of extra baskets, tubes, and player bags/equipment. If outside, make sure courts are dry, free of leaves and other debris.

  19. Be proficient in the group lesson or drill. You may have to move a lot of players through your courts and courts may be limited. Divide your players into smaller groups. Make sure you use all of your court space. The activities can be fitness or eye-hand drills related.

  20. Be compassionate and adaptive to the less skilled players. Your clinics, teams and individuals will come in all shapes, sizes, and abilities. Some will have played other sports. Some will not have. Patience will be your best friend.

  21. Be adaptive to individual stroke techniques. Don’t try to fix everything. There have been tour players who had terrible stroke or serve technique and done very well. With a few exceptions, work with what you have been given. Build on the small things and only fix the broken things.

  22. Never get too personal with your players. This leads to monstrous messes. Be careful of texts and e-mails you send them. Most schools or governing bodies will have iron clad policies in these areas. Make sure parents are aware of everything.

  23. Keep notes of your players. You will need to know from one lesson or practice session to the next what you have worked on and where you want to go.

  24. Give homework to your players. Make them practice outside of lessons and team practices. Remember, tennis is the ultimate situational learning tool. Every shot is different so players will learn from each swing of the racquet.

  25. Don’t panic in front of your players or lose your cool. It’s hard sometimes. Just step back, take a breath, and move forward. If you are not sure, ask us

  26. Understand basic strategies of the game. Learn about patterns, how to shape points and how to recognize weaknesses.

  27. The mental and emotional side of tennis is very complex. Different players bring different mindsets. You will never understand them all. Frank Giampaolo’s books can help you. Championship Tennis, Raising Athletic Royalty, The Soft Science of Tennis, Emotional Aptitude in Sports, Neuro Priming for Peak Performance and The Tennis Parent’s Bible are some of the best resources in the world for this area of the game.

  28. Kids lack match play. They need to play in real time. In your practices, you have to duplicate match play. Have your players play points. Keep score. The pressure of winning and losing points will accelerate their abilities. Remember, tennis is the ultimate situational game. No two shots or situations will be the same…..EVER! Tennis players are problem solvers. The more they play, the more they learn.

Lane Evans is currently an Associate Professional at The Westwood Tennis Center and at The Headington Family Tennis Center at The University of Oklahoma in Norman, OK.

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