You Want to Change What?

You want me to do what?

Please just leave it alone.  It’s finally working.

These were first thoughts that always went through my head when the coach approached me to say they were going to make some changes to my sons serve.  Why, it is finally working and you want to change it again?

How many players or parents feel the same way every time the coach approaches you to make a change in your strokes.  I know some people who have left the coach rather than allow them to make the change.  I realize change is difficult but sometimes we need to trust that the professionals know what they are doing.

I made it a habit to suppress my initial instincts and instead ask the coach the reasoning for making the changes.  Usually he had a pretty good reason for the change.  As a parent it then became my job to support the coach.  You know your child is going to resist the change. It is human nature, especially if what they were doing was already working.  As an adult it is easier to understand that sometimes you have to make changes now to help with your game in the future, but for young people they have difficulty seeing beyond today.  As a parent you have to be ready for a slight decline in their game while they introduce the change.  Take the pressure off of your junior player to win and remind him/her that the goal of the match is to incorporate what they are learning.  Avoid really big tournaments during this time and keep them in their own division.

For coaches it would be helpful if you spend the time explaining to both the parent and the player why the changes are being made.  What benefit will it have to the game, what weakness are you trying to improve, what strength are you trying to develop?  Knowledge is the best way to get people to buy into what you are selling.

Change is necessary at both ends of the age spectrum.  As junior players develop they gain strength that allows them make changes to improve their game.  If you don’t make the changes as your body changes you will get left behind.  As you age sometimes you slow down or you have injuries that need to be taken into account.  A coach can help you make changes to your strokes and game plan that can overcome these issues.

Players and parents keep an open mind to what the coach is telling you or asking of you.  Coaches be patient with us and provide us with all the information we need to get on board.  Parents, support the coach and help your child to accept the change.

Many a battles arose in the crazy tennis mom’s house over changes in the strokes.  In the end the change was the right thing to do but a teen doesn’t like losing in the short-term to get to a point of winning in the long run.  Hold tight…this too shall pass.

Biggest change ever made to my son’s game: incorporating a one-handed back hand.  While learning it he was not allowed to use the two-handed back hand for almost two months.  What a rough period in time.  Now he has both.  Predominantly uses the two-handed but can use the one-handed when he needs to.  Great final result, difficult time getting there.

What is the most difficult change you have been asked to make?  Was it worth it?


4 comments on “You Want to Change What?

  1. great article, sandra! change is tough, to be sure. i love your suggestions to the coach: to explain the reason for the change to increase support from both the player and the parent. too often the coach just forges ahead, assuming buy-in from player and parent, then doesn’t understand when he meets with resistance. an up-front explanation showcasing the cost-benefit breakdown is something that i (and my son) always appreciate!

    • No one likes to follow blindly, and honestly it isn’t something I like to teach my children to do.
      We have been so lucky that we have had a good relationship with our coaches. To be honest it is a bit of a joke between the coaches and myself about my husbands questions. He is an engineer and director of a company so he never goes forward without a full explanation of why.
      My son takes after his dad. If you want me to do something you better sell me on the idea. If he buys into it he’s on board. The back hand adjustment we didn’t tell him why because we didn’t want him to know it was temporary. If he thought it was temporary he wouldn’t have put the effort in. That is why it was so difficult. In the end the coach knew him well enough to know how to get him to do what he wanted.

  2. Losing in the short term to win in the long run.
    I recently changed my swim stroke (with help from my coach). It felt weird, but now I can see how it’ll help me in the long run.

    • Good for you for sticking with it. I have a hard time with my one kiddo getting him to stick with the change. When he gets nervous he drops back to “old” ways. It is so hard to break the habit of the old way.

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