Parent-Coach Communication

I am sorry that we have not spoken since Troy walked off the court the other day. My instinct is to always resolve issues right away. In this case, I thought things would simmer down. I overrode my desire to call you because I needed time to gather my thoughts, of which I have been pondering on for a while. I was glad you called me because it pushed me to dig deep and express myself. Firstly, I wanted to say that it has been such a pleasure working with Troy and you guys. Subsequently, if we have to depart our coaching relationship temporarily or permanently for whatever reason, I do not want it to affect our overall relationship.

As a coach, my objective is to improve the student. If I am not, then there is little reason to continue our coaching relationship unless the student and family are ok with stagnant progress. The problem with coaches who push very little is that students barely improve and at the end of the day it can lead to more frustration and self-esteem problems later on. Hence, as a coach it is my job to do whatever I can within proper boundaries to push the student to the next level. Because peoples’ boundaries differ for different reasons, communication and reality checks must come into play. Realistically for Troy to get better in my opinion, he has to allow the coach to push him more than he does. When push comes to shove, I believe that Troy becomes too soft to make effective headway and this softness affects every aspect of his tennis game. Similar to me, Troy is not the strongest, most athletic person. Hence, we need to be relatively coachable in a sport that requires simultaneous technical, mental and physical improvement. I know you have asked me to lighten up at times especially being that Troy is only 10 years old and the end goal is not to be professional or play in college for now. I definitely take your needs into account because it is my job to establish the proper boundaries between what a family wants and what I feel a student is capable of accomplishing.

In my opinion, Troy’s softness was starting to add up of late based upon the other day and the week before. I was tough on him, but not overly tough in my opinion. As always, during and after pushing Troy, I expressed how much I cared about him and my belief in him. I told him my reasons for being tougher on him than I am a recreational player with less desire for instance. I also suggested to Troy that we do not have to train all the time. One of my suggestions was possibly taking time off or working with me less time. I am passionate about the subject of tennis and proper push. As much as I aim to improve students, my number one goal is for them to be happy. If I did not care as much as I do about the students I coach, I would just adapt to how the student is feeling in the moment. However, I would not be doing my job for their tennis or happiness.

Even though Troy is very talented and smart, I can’t ultimately do what I have to do to improve his tennis if I do not have yours and your husband’s support when push comes to shove. Personally I was a stubborn, challenging student so I can relate to Troy. My understanding from both a personal and coaching perspective of being coachable and non-coachable has led me to believe that unless the coach and parent(s) are on the same wavelength with a student who needs to be pushed, the student will control things too much. And when this happens, softness rather than consistent, sufficient effort takes over and improvement ultimately is minimized or ceases all together. I have done lots of mediation and written lots of letters to parents over this same issue. I have also brought in third parties to help resolve things or been part of a family’s third party efforts including therapists and sports psychologists who were already on the family’s team. Hence, this issue of softness and Troy’s frustration with me for being tough on him is not a Troy problem. It’s a common problem that is best when nipped early on with all students. If not, the patterns become habits. And breaking habits become very tough to overcome.

I think the world of Troy. And I want nothing but the best for him. However, if Troy wants to keep improving (and this does not mean working towards being a professional or even a college player), then in my opinion he must once and for all allow me to fully coach him with your support or its best to make some changes. What I am asking for with your support is more often than not, as you have is allow me to push Troy to follow through with his tennis specific needs for the day rather than Troy giving in to what I call ‘beneficial discomfort’. The more Troy consistently follows through with his daily needs, rather than gets his way when things get tough, the more he will improve and reach his tennis specific goals. I appreciate listening to my feelings on these important matters. Please communicate with me before Friday so we know how to best proceed.

Sincerely Coach

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