The psychological importance of the coach – player relationship

The psychological importance of the coach – player relationship

Last night with our outdoor courts busy for a team match i travelled to a local indoor centre to train. Here i met Luke, who at 16 is doing really well, has a mightily impressive LTA rating, and had just reached the semi-final of his first ever grade 3 (LTA system) tournament.

Due to his exam schedule, bad weather and illness this had been our first training session in three weeks. Afterwards i reflected on how important the session had been. Not just to continue our technical and tactical work but as a chance to ‘catch-up’ on his efforts on the court since we had last met. He had been holding onto all his thoughts, both positive and negative, for these three weeks and was badly in need of letting me know how it had all been going.

This makes me think about the need, in a close relationship, to share and be heard by someone of importance. It is the basic principle of counselling, to externalise something held internally, and in tennis which is perhaps the toughest psychological sport so important.

It was a great session. Not because he played well, in fact he was rusty and physically his fitness had dropped quite a bit through the exam and revision period, but because we were able to reflect together on his efforts and plan the Christmas break tournament schedule he left feeling more positive and looking forward to the future.

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