Jon Glover blog: Advice for young coaches

July 18, 2017 12:13 PM

USTA National Coach Jon Glover has more than 15 years of coaching experience and joined USTA Player Development from Legacy Youth Tennis & Education in Philadelphia, where he was the Director of Player Development since September 2009. He was a top junior player and went on to play four years at the University of Florida, where he was the team captain his junior and senior years and left the Gators with the fifth most wins in program history. Glover will be writing a blog for over the next few weeks. In his second blog, he gives advice to young coaches and focuses on the importance of finding a mentor, developing a personal mission statement and teaching philosophy and more.

By Jon Glover

As a young boy, I had developed a passion for the sport of tennis almost as soon as I started to learn the game. So much of my time was spent trying to figure out ways to improve on my own. In many ways, I felt like I was my own coach and I began “teaching” the younger players in my program as early as 14 or 15. So as my playing career began to unwind, I looked forward to transitioning to coaching.

Like most young coaches, I made a lot of mistakes early in my career, but I was lucky enough to be able to learn and grow through the mentorship of older, more established coaches, such as Ian Duvenhage, Andy Brandi and Jean Desdunes. My first piece of advice to young coaches would be to find a mentor -- someone who has the on-court know how and the off-court experiences to help you in your chosen profession. I’ve been teaching for almost 20 years, and I learn something new almost every day. A good mentor will rapidly accelerate your learning curve and give you the benefit of learning from someone else’s successes and mistakes.

Sit down and develop a personal mission statement and a teaching philosophy. This will help guide you on court in your practices with players and help hold yourself accountable. A coach should model the behavior they want to see from their players, and a mission statement provides a blueprint for this. Coaching education classes, such as the USTA’s High Performance Coaching Education workshops, can help a young coach begin to develop their own teaching philosophy to follow as well as provide the latest resources and teaching methods. These workshops also connect you to a network of passionate coaches to grow and learn with.

Every player is different. One of the mistakes that a lot of young coaches make is to try and teach every player the same way, give them the same strokes or teach them the same tactics. A lot of coaches teach players to hit the ball exactly as they do or play how they played. A good coach takes into account each player's personality, learning style, background, etc., and figures out the best way to coach that particular player. A great coach does no harm! So if a player’s serve or forehand isn’t hit the way you normally teach it but it’s within acceptable parameters, leave it alone.

Once you have developed your philosophy and are helping players, give back. Find a young coach or a player who you believe would be a great coach one day, and take him or her under your wing. Just as you were mentored, find a mentee. Teaching someone your philosophy will give you better command over it and may lead you to add to it or refine it. To truly have command over the information you have learned, you must show someone else how to teach it. By doing this, you are helping someone to become a better coach while you yourself are becoming a more skilled teacher.

Put your players first. With every decision, you should ask yourself, "What’s best for the player?" If your players know you put them ahead of even yourself, then you will have their trust. Trust is the foundation on which any great coach-player relationship is built. Once you have their trust, you can get them to do amazing things!