On Court Coaching?

During the US Open, the TV camera has “caught” several coaches coaching their players from the stands.  Should this practice be stopped or accepted?

Women Get Coached

The WTA has for several years allowed their female players to call for their coaches to come out on change overs to give them guidance during a critical time.  And that hasn’t seemed to ruin the sport in any way.

One on One Sport

The argument against is usually that tennis is a sport of one player vs. another and “they should be able to work out their problems by themselves.”  But is there any other sport that has such a restriction?

  • Pro football players get instructions from the sidelines during play
  • Baseball coaches are famous for their intricate signaling to batters
  • Basketball coaches yell instructions to their on-court players
  • Even one-on-one boxers hear their corner men calling to them
  • And in golf, the ultimate one-player sport, the caddie is constantly coaching his charge

At John Newcombe’s Fantasy Camp, the Legend coaches ALWAYS come out onto the court during matches to impart their words of wisdom.

So why shouldn’t tennis players (even us amateur senior players) be able to get suggestions from people on the sidelines?

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6 thoughts on “On Court Coaching?

  1. I believe a coach – one designated person – should be permitted to sit aside the player during the entire match and speak with the player only during changeovers. No verbal exchanges, even a few words shouted at the peanut gallery by the players (as Joker and Murray often do) should be permitted at any time during play. Players should play during games and leave the verbalizing to when they sit during breaks. This is one of several changes I believe should be made on the ATP tour. I won’t digress…but coaching, yes it should be allowed. And Kyrgios should have a coach with a paddle sitting courtside!

    Alan, how about a stun gun for Kyrgios!? thanks, george

  2. I would like to think that tennis coaches try to teach their charges off court in tactics and problem-solving skills. Once they’re on the court, they’re on their own.
    This is an important element in making tennis unique and useful in character development for youth particularly.

    Spike, in an ideal world … george

  3. George,
    As a teaching pro, I feel one of the beauties of tennis is teaching students how to problem solve. It helps them in tennis and in life. One of my pet peeves is how everyone (especially young people) gets help in their daily life with no practice in problem solving. I’m very much against coaching and love the mano a mano (or woman a woman) battle and the ability to recognize what’s happened and the ability to make changes. But that is just me (and a lot of others as well).
    Great post.
    Looking forward to seeing you at the end of the month.

    Steve, so how do you stop the signaling from the stands? george

  4. There comes a time for everything when you just need to accept reality. Players are ALREADY being coached during matches by subtle signals from their boxes. As Peter Tosh famously said (in a different context), legalize it. Although I would do so in a controlled manner, as Alan Anastos suggests.

    George, you correctly point out that we are all coached at Tennis Fantasies. I frankly find it one of the most fascinating and rewarding parts of the experience — although not all of the Legends are as adept at coaching as others. Yet we still have to execute and carry out the plan. I have had coaches tell me what to do and still lost matches and I have had coaches who supplied very little help and yet I still managed to win. But it is never somebody standing there telling you with each stroke, lob or drop shot or crosscourt or up the line, etc. It is more general and less frequent than that. Something like, on a changeover, move your feet or be more aggressive or watch out for the lob because you are on the side with the sun. Instructive? Yes. Overdone and intrusive? Never. I am sure coaching in the pro game would not be any different.

    Finally, from all of Newk’s stories coaching in Davis Cup is an integral part of the matches. It hasn’t spoiled that event, or made anyone feel a victory is somehow diluted because a player was coached. So let’s take our heads out of our asses, accept reality, and allow coaching to occur officially.

  5. Teams are more likely to have similar advantages in coaching availability.
    Players who have not already made it big and can’t afford an entourage with
    the “best” coaches are already at a disadvantage. At least, as things stand, players
    are supposed to figure things out for themselves on the court. Allowing substantial
    on-court coaching, it seems to me, may give a further unfair advantage to players who can afford the “best” coaching.

    I’m with Spike. I prefer that we, and professional players, have to figure it out for
    our selves.

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