Megan Moulton-Levy blog: My coaching philosophy

February 14, 2017 08:47 AM

Megan Moulton-Levy competed on the WTA Tour in both singles and doubles, advancing to the round of 32 at all four Grand Slam tournaments and reaching a career-high ranking of No. 50 in the world in doubles in July 2013. Moulton-Levy was a four-year standout at the College of William & Mary from 2004-08, where she earned All-America honors six times and reached the 2006 NCAA singles semifinals and the 2007 NCAA doubles final. A two-time recipient of the National ITA/Arthur Ashe Jr. Award for Leadership and Sportsmanship, Moulton-Levy currently serves as a senior coach at the JTCC in College Park, Md. In her latest blog, she talks about what she enjoys most about coaching and her philosophy as a coach.

By Megan Moulton-Levy

It is my philosophy to coach the person, not the tennis player. Anyone can be taught the skills needed to hit a tennis ball. At all levels of the sport, it isn't always the "most talented" or "most graceful" player who wins. It is the player who manages their mind and emotions better than their opponents. It is these intangible skills that I enjoy coaching the most.

The kids whom I most enjoy coaching are those who can appreciate and understand the difference between intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation can be defined as doing something because you truly enjoy it, whereas extrinsic motivation can be defined as doing something because a person wants you to and/or because you want the accolades. What is it that motivates them to play?

Players who can withstand the mental assault of tennis are those who have the mental toughness needed to survive in the sport. They enjoy the art of playing tennis, they relish competition, they love to practice, they treat wins and losses as one and the same. If the only thing that excites them about playing tennis is winning, it will be an arduous tennis journey. Often it is hardest to coach kids who are solely extrinsically motivated because they cannot see that losing is a part of the process of improving as a tennis player.


It is important to note the difference between the process-oriented vs. goal-oriented mindset. The process of getting better and maximizing potential has to be the No. 1 priority.  However, the goal a player sets, whether short-term or long-term, is what breaks up the sometimes monotonous days of practicing.

It is not fair to always ask a 13-year-old who practices four hours a day to make their primary focus getting one percent better. It needs to be clear why they are practicing, whether it is wanting to be Top 5 in their section, Top 5 in the nation or make their high school team.  A successful tennis player, on a daily basis, goes back and forth between being process and goal oriented.

At JTCC, most of our full-time kids play four hours of tennis and have one hour of fitness. Between school, tennis and fitness, their day starts at 8 a.m. and ends around 5-6 p.m. Almost every day of the week at 6 p.m., those same kids are trying to hop on a court to play touch games or sometimes just hit on the wall. You can't teach that. However, I do think that if the kids are in the right environment where they are inspired, they can fall in love with the sport in a way that will help them enjoy their road to success.