LOVE 4 Tennis topics: Former player must keep his ego as a coach under control

LOVE 4 Tennis topics: Former player must keep his ego as a coach under control

When a professional tennis player ends his career, it may seem the best and most logical continuity for him is to become a coach. It is not as easy as it may seem at first glance. Erik Csarnakovics, LOVE 4 Tennis Head Coach, knows himself a lot about it, warns about the difficulties of the job and also has a piece of advice for the starting coaches, former players.

What is the most difficult in transition of player to coach?

“Working as a tennis coach has its specifics. It is not for everyone, same as working as a vet or physician or artist. Being a player does not necessarily mean, you are meant to be a coach. As a player you work on yourself, as a coach you work on progress of other person. It’s the completely different aspect. Player that becomes coach soon realises, how difficult it is to work with someone else and how relatively easy it was before to work only on yourself. Then often happens, young coaches that ended their careers at 23, soon decide to continue playing tennis.”

Why do they decide to comeback?

“That’s because they’re missing the competitiveness. But mostly because coaching looked easy, but when you get more in depth insight, you realise it never gets as simple as it seems to be.”

Why players become coaches in your academy?

“During those eight years of existence, I constantly thought of expanding our team. And therefore we are continuously bringing in more people, especially in terms of quality. Logically, we need more specialists and coaches to satisfy needs of the members we have. It is extremely difficult to find someone into the team, because it is different to be a personal coach and coach in the academy. This is the best possible way for us. If a player has a long term downtrend or he/she decides to quit tennis because of personal reasons and we see that they have a potential to become a coach, we recommend them to take the role. They need to live and breathe tennis and give up their ego. We slowly integrate him into the team, first as an assistant with easier tasks. Advantage for all of us is that they already know the methods and different approach we have here compared to other academies. Additionally, they add their personal experience into their work as coaches that are very interesting for us.”

What are your expectations of such philosophy?

“We already have second generation of coaches, former players, who help the academy. They have the potential to help Slovak tennis. The names such as Filip Havaj, who also helps out to Slovakian Fed Cup team. He travelled around the tournaments with Hantuchova, Bencic, Safarova, now he helps Lukas Lacko as sparring coach. He has all the facilities in LOVE 4 TENNIS club and helps youth players in the academy. Another candidate is Miloslav Mecir Jr.  He is injured and cannot play currently. He helps youth players in the academy as well. Then names like Swiss Tim Srkala, coach of Brian Bencic, brother of more known tennis sister Belinda.”

How do you react to those saying a good player will become a good coach?

“It is the same as saying; former great player will once become a good husband and father. Or a good businessman, because he always has made good decisions on the court. Great players have one disadvantage, they have big ego. But when you want to become a serious coach, you need to limit your ego. You have to spend time thinking about other people, not yourself. Your success comes from the successes of your player. Former players obviously have some advantage as well. They know tournaments, places, coaches, they have contacts. They know about the life of a tennis player. They can adapt more easily how their players feel, what is running through their head. When I travel around with a player, I like to spend some time playing with him in practice, so I can recognize the courts, balls, conditions to give him better advice.”

How should good coach be like in the terms of characteristics?

“Here I would like to define the word coach. We can talk about coach in fewer factors. Solving different things like technique, strikes, only tennis. The better coach, the more things he can solve. Not all the players have team around like Djokovic. But still, we are talking about top 50 players, who need to have a coach like that. Coach needs to understand nutrition, fitness training, match tactics, and be like a manager including booking flights, hotels and arranging sparring. Needs to keep the players mentally strong and provide them support. Keep in mind all the aspects of co-operation with the player and make best of it.”

What are the specifics about approach to coaches in your academy?

“We are always trying to improve and make things more interesting in our academy. It keeps us moving forward. At the moment we are focused on advisory or coordination of training process. Parents or coaches approach us to get advice on their training. We are able to analyse the condition of the client and we of course offer solutions, through our methods and processes. We are happy for this kind of co-operation, because it is suited for particular player and brings results quicker. Especially with our younger players, who do not have the opportunity to stay in the academy away from their home. They receive new impulse, they are getting boost and their improvement is quicker and more complex.”

What advice do you give to young coaches?

“We are not trying to tell coaches, how they should lead the trainings. We have weekly schedules of training cycles. Role of the coach is to stick with this methodology. The way the coach decided to lead the training process depends on his skills, knowledge and personality. We check if training reaches required intensity, if the coach is strict enough and the results of the training process. We want to find the coach within certain boundaries. It is important not to have practice session only according to one scheme, but it requires coaches´ own skills and unique methods.”

What do some coaches, former players, do wrong? What they need to be wary of? You are a former player, too…

“Basic mistake is thinking they can do it.  The longer I am a coach the more things I learn, which I did not know. I had advantage over the others, being coach of Jarmila Gajdosova, under supervision by Mr. Jan Kukal. I have learned many things from him. Not only player, but coach should also work on himself. The second common mistake is, when a former player, now a coach, tries to make a copy of himself from the player he coaches. Every player is unique, so I try to explain this to our coaches. Every player will tell its own story.”

Filip Horansky, Erik Csarnakovics, Uladzimir Ignatik

Filip Horansky, Erik Csarnakovics, Uladzimir Ignatik

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