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Billie Jean King's Tennis Tips, 5

Billie Jean King
Billie Jean King offers up some tips for Tennis On
Campus participants.
Reproduced courtesy of World TeamTennis.

Coach's Influence in WTT Format
Effective coaching is all about preparation and consistency.  It is so important to pay attention to the little things to reduce additional stress on your team.  By the little things, I mean everything from knowing the exact location of the match and how long it will take to get there to making sure you have towels, water, Gatorade, and anything else your team might need on site.  It is also important to ensure that your players are comfortable with and understand the WTT rules and format before they get to the match.

As far as team rules, I really have never had more than one rule: Everyone must be on time.  From there, it is different for every player, and as a coach, you have to know your players.  By the time you arrive at the USTA National Campus Championship, you should know them very well.  You have to be alert because they all have their own routine and their own way of doing things, and it is your job to help them navigate the day so they contribute more to the team.

Players also will react differently to coaching during a match.  Some people, like Martina Navratilova, need high energy and they want you as involved and committed to the match as they are.  Others, like Pete Sampras, need less energy from the coach.  For those players, it is important that you are calmer and not say as much.  It is important to keep reading the body language of your players.  That will tell you more about where they are in the moment than anything they say to you.

The tighther a match gets, the more you have to be able to adapt quickly.  There are two things to focus on in these situations.  First, you want to make sure you win the first point of every game as often as possible and not get in a hole because of the no-ad scoring format in WTT.  Also, the players not playing in the match are still crucial to the outcome.  Their support and encouragement to their teammates on the court can make the difference.  Remember that while only a few players may be on court, you are coaching the entire team.

These are a few of the little things that coaches have to remind their players.  Over the years, I have always found it is better to have these conversations before you get on site.  Your players need time to process everything - and certain players will need more time to process, while others are quick studies.  Getting your team prepared properly keeps everyone calm and ready to roll.  It's when you haven't done a good job preparing your team that the players are rushed and the entire experience could start to unravel.

Remember, champions adjust, and it is critical you make sure your team enjoys the moment!

I'll see you at the 2008 USTA National Campus Championship.

Billie Jean King Signature



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