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Dear valued customer,
This Toolkit should be of enormous value to you.
We have uncompromisingly written into the Tennis Coach’s Toolkit every grain of insight we have ever learned or developed in our tennis coaching and mentoring lives, to date.
Please respect the work that has gone into this resource and we would ask that you do not copy or reproduce it, or pass it on to our potential new customers.
If this, our life’s work, is of great help, then please encourage others to invest in their own professional development, as you have done.
Thank you.

Copyright 2009. Not to be reproduced without express permission.



8 The Three Pillars

26 Analogies
29 Developing Awareness
34 Beware the Idle Match Play

46 Come on! Concentrate!

58 Coaching Concentration Checklist

61 Best Ways to Build Confidence

75 Coaching Confidence Checklist
78 Dealing with Defeat
81 Did You Win?
88 Effective Questioning
Emotional Control

110 Best Ways to Gain Emotional Control

127 Coaching Control Checklist
131 Exploring Effort
143 Feeding Back On Feedback

153 Goal setting - Take Aim and Fire!

161 Get Ready, Take Aim and Fire!

164 S.M.A.R.T. Goals

167 Me and My Game

169 Best Ways to Motivate

194 Coaching Motivation Checklist (1)

196 Coaching Motivation Checklist (2)

198 Coaching Commitment Checklist
201 Oh help! What do I say now?
Parent Support

210 Behind the Results (1)

212 Behind the Results (2)

214 Behind the Results (3)

216 Sporting Parents – Match Support & Reflection Log
220 Self-Reflection
223 Sticky Coaching
233 3T’s Mental Skills Lesson Plan Cards
236 Starting the Point Serving (1)

237 Starting the Point Returning (1)

238 Building the point (1)

239 Staying in the point (1)

240 Turning the point around

241 Finishing the point

242 Playing from In Front

243 Body Language

244 Developing a Pre-Point Routine

245 Developing a Bomb-Proof routine

246 Two Ways to Win a Tennis Match
248 Coaching Motivation – C.A.R.

249 Engagement

250 Taking Responsibility (1)

251 Taking Responsibility (2)

252 The Choice is Yours
254 Effort Vs Ability

255 Did You Win?

256 Limiting Beliefs
258 Building Confidence

259 Coaching Confidence (1)

260 Coaching Confidence (2)
262 Learning to Focus

263 Focus on the Process

264 Focus on What You Can Control

265 Concentration

268 Effective Practice

269 Cross or Line?

270 Practice with Match Purpose
272 Tennis is Best Played One Point at a Time (1)

273 Tennis is Best Played One Point at a Time (2)

276 Accepting Mistakes

277 Accepting the Nature of Competitive Tennis

278 The Little Voice… It’s Your Choice
280 Self Talk
282 Helpful Mistakes

283 Managing Mistakes

286 Time - Friend or Foe? (1)

287 Time - Friend or Foe? (2)

290 Learning To Learn (1)

291 Learning To Learn (2)

294 Control the Controllables

295 Performance Vs Outcome?

296 Ratings

298 Breathe! (1)

300 Sticky Lessons! (1)

301 Sticky Lessons! (2)

304 All or Nothing Thinking

305 Striving For Less Imperfection

306 Correct Our Thinking Errors - There’s No Good in ‘Should’



Effective environments encourage people to release themselves from the constraints of their own limiting beliefs

The reason ‘create environment’ has been included as one of the pillars of our coaching model is the assumption that a ‘considerable amount of learning can, and does, occur without a coach’ (Rod Thorpe 2006).
We wish to acknowledge the importance of environment by having it as one of our three pillars because many players evolve from environments as opposed to being produced by systems. Species (in our case players) evolve because they have to adapt to their natural (man made or more accurately, coach made) environment. Many people have the idea that coaches are people who only influence learning when they are present as they stand, tell and show what they wish to te

  • Why it has been Included

  • Environment can be Intangible or Tangible

  • Intangibles are subdivided into Positive Vision / Appropriate Challenge / Personal Best Climate

  • Tangibles are subdivided into Location / Setting / Decor

ach. Coaching is far more than being effective only when you have a basket by your side and a racket in your hand.

‘I never teach my pupils: I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn’ - Albert Einstein
“You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself” – Galileo Galilee
The key ingredients that are required to create environment can be compartmentalised under two headings – tangibles and intangibles:

  1. Positive Vision

  2. Appropriate Challenge

  3. Personal Best Climate

The three factors above, when suitably combined, form a state of mind which is very high on the list of desirability, namely High Expectations.

Examples of circumstances that can generate high expectations would include a belief that the work being undertaken now is forming the basis for an even better future, giving justification for the effort being expended each and every moment. Likewise the knowledge that the players who have worked here before have moved on to higher levels or that the coach has experienced success at a level greater than the one the pupil is presently attaining support an expectation for a brighter future.
Another would be that the pupil has been re-assured by the success they have already experienced by being a pupil in the tennis programme. The coach who has been responsible for planning and application has increased their own credibility and so any future predictions of improvement the coach generates increased positive expectations.
Below is an extremely useful and relatively simple way to analyse the intangible environment a coach is working in or attempting to create using “expectation” as the environmental quality being measured.









So a coach could self-reflect on the working environment they and more importantly their pupils are in and best guess as to whether it is an ideal high volume /positive expectation paradise (quadrant 1), or conversely a very difficult high volume /negative expectation graveyard (quadrant 4).


A positive vision is a picture of what can be; the place you want to progress to;

a description of what could be possible. Vision involves clarity of the goal for the programme as a whole and for individuals within it
Imagine that you have been given a jigsaw as a present. The analogy becomes even more powerful if the jigsaw is large and complex. The only thing missing is the picture that should have been printed on top of the box.
This omission does not make the completion of the puzzle impossible, but it seriously handicaps the receiver of the jigsaw present and this handicap would be amplified if there was a race to complete against another participant who had been given the same one but with the picture to act as a guideline.
Now juxtapose that situation to a working relationship between a coach and a pupil

who have devoted energy at arriving at a mutually agreed goal or vision and an equally energetic partnership that only worked to see “if the player could be good.”

Where the analogy falls short is in the balance between the static or dynamic qualities

of the visions to be completed.

The jigsaw picture is static where as the relationship between a pupil and coach is dynamic. This latter element allows the vision to be modified as change occurs, for example the pupil becomes more experienced and articulate or the onset of puberty allows for even more ambitious dream to be voiced about hitting the ball with even more power.
Opportunity Cost

However what has not changed no matter how dynamic the relationship, is the inescapable reality that it is not possible to do everything that is theoretically tennis beneficial all at the same moment.

The economist calls this inevitable demand for choice, opportunity-cost, and for the tennis coach and their pupil it necessitates that prioritisation is the governing factor in how their energy for improvement is spent.
It is the vision which dictates how much time is spent on what area of the pupil’s game in the attempt to complete the “tennis player” as efficiently as possible.

· Begin to formulate the game style the player will ultimately own.
· Write down the goals for the work.

· Start from a simple description of the player’s tennis dream and add sophistication as the game begins to take shape and the pupil can articulate more accurately their desires.

· Do not neglect to include the mental and physical qualities alongside the tactical and technical description.
· Do not allow the youthfulness of the pupil to be an excuse not to begin the process just because the game style is by necessity unsophisticated.


Another way of viewing challenge is to think of it as the appropriate level of expectation. An important factor in establishing this is to appreciate the value of leadership: Challenge (level of expectation) can be established by leading through example, in that the leader role models the values of the organisation. One of the best ways to transmit values to the player is to be a good role model. It is vital that coaches walk their talk!

The key to developing high levels of expected behaviours and establishing these as the norms for the group is communicating what is expected and acceptable. These ‘ground rules’ appear in the form of clearly defined and accepted roles and responsibilities. These agreed high levels of behaviour, when both clear and accepted by all make up the very fabric of the environment. These rules, sometimes unwritten and implicit, will shape a players’ behaviour, acting rather like an open topped box.

The sides of the box provide boundaries whilst the open lid of the box allows the player to aspire to and believe they can move upwards out of the box.
From a climate perspective the player could be helped if the coach, with agreement from the players, established some rules of engagement. This ‘discipline plan’, with its consequences may include aspects such as being on time, arriving with the agreed appropriate equipment and working hard for each other.
In the case study, (which you might have read and is to be found in the Resource Library in ‘Our Methodology’) the players’ negative attitude has begun to ‘rub-off’ on some of the other players, the strength of his own negative attitude may intensify as it now appears more acceptable.
Imagine a new classroom with no chewing gum on the carpet. Now speculate what might happen to it once the first piece of gum has been stuck to the carpet by one youngster and not instructed to be removed immediately. If the gum is allowed to remain on the floor then other pieces will soon begin to appear as the levels of expectation drop.

· Ask the players the following question and see what it does for raising expectations. “What do you feel responsible for in this session?” or “What can you guarantee in this session?” or “What do you want to commit to in this session?”
· After the player has not made an effort to chase down a ball, the coach might

say “Tom. That’s unlike you, not to chase that ball down.” Or “Tom, with your improving speed and determination, that’s unlike you not to chase that ball down.”

This feedback by the coach raises the level of expectation of the player resulting in the player chasing down subsequent balls in similar situations.

  • Another way of raising the aspirational level of the player is by showing your high

level of expectation by apologising to the player for not working him hard enough and so not being appropriately demanding of him e.g. “Ahh! Sorry John, I let you down then…I’m sorry. That last feed was probably too easy… what do you think?”


This is an environment which pursues, recognises and values effort, personal improvement and progress.

The player may be feeling frustrated and despondent because he is not experiencing success in his own eyes due to comparing himself with the others in the group who may be better than him at present. The climate in which he plays tennis needs to be one which includes, ‘I value effort, and recognise ability. I am interested in your personal progress and improvement.’

‘I am not primarily concerned with you winning matches but am very keen to develop your skills of how to win matches. I am very keen to develop ‘you now-you then’ judgments of yourself rather than ‘you and them’ comparisons because I want you to recognize what you are responsible for, so I need you to focus upon things which are fully in your control.’
Developing a ‘personal best’ attitude more commonly known as a ‘task-oriented’ climate may significantly help the player, as it changes the way he views achievement in tennis by altering how he perceives he is being evaluated and judges himself.
High levels of frustration and anxiety, for example, are going to be experienced by the player whose attitude is very outcome-oriented and whose attention is focused on either the consequences of winning or losing, or how he is doing in comparison with his peers.

A ‘P.B.’ climate can provide emotional and psychological safety for developing children.

A slight shift in emphasis of the question from ‘why isn’t the player motivated?’, to ‘what will have to happen for the player to maintain a positive attitude?’ may be more effective in lighting up the solution to the problem.
For the coach to have a realistic opportunity to help create and maintain an atmosphere that has the elements of vision, challenge and personal best they would need to become familiar with how to provide inspirational motivation, a truly commendable quality for all teachers.
An inspirational environment enhances confidence, excites and offers hope (optimism) for a better future.

An inspirational coach communicates in a way, which engages the person on an emotional level, having high yet realistic expectations. Inspirational communication empowers the recipient in that it emphasises choice and personal responsibility, at the same time as exciting the person about the benefits of the action.

It encourages the person to believe that he has the necessary resources to achieve the task. Inspirational communication prompts people into action which would otherwise (normally) appear beyond the belief (thinking) of the person.

The environment develops an ‘I can do’ and an ‘I want to come back’ mind set.

Developing an environment, which has both ‘push and pull’ capabilities is advantageous. Role models coaches and sometimes older and better players can be doing the pulling from the top while the pushing is done by the combined enthusiasm, efforts and support of all the players in the group, working together as a team.
Effective coaches understand the value of role models and thus work hard to engineer an environment around their players which has or has access to appropriate role models. These may be ‘process’ role models in that they demonstrate the desired qualities and characteristics e.g. it’s cool to try hard. They can also be ‘outcome’ role models in that they are evidence of outcome success from players associated with the club/programme giving the other players the belief that it ‘can be done’.
You may decide to change the environment by changing courts and placing your coaching court next to a group of players whose on-court behavior you know to be very positive. This will at least show the player what is possible and the benefits of ‘getting it right’.

· Try and ensure that the best players in the club or group are also the

hardest workers.

Physical Environment

Having introduced the idea of an appropriate working environment as an intangible setting, it is not difficult to visualise or even personally recall the power of working in a physical setting which is ‘right’. ‘Tangibles’ has been used as an alternative term for ‘physical’.

The physical elements of environment can be usefully grouped under the following subsections which collectively can be called:
The Setting
· Location
· Facilities
· Décor


There are countless hotels in the world. For a large part most of them are accessible after a suitable plan to visit them has been completed and financed. So what dictates the choice of which one and when? Location is high on the list of the variables that are considered as it answers the simple customer demand of where, both in the macro and micro sense, or more simply which country and what town.
The same discretion applies to varying degrees when choosing the place to practice and play tennis.
A line of school tennis courts built on mass for economies of scale, situated on top of the highest point of the playing fields very rarely generate positive emotional attachment and on those dull windy days when the nets are moving towards horizontal it can produce feelings of downright hostility.

The Monte Carlo ATP event in April is played in very contrasting circumstances. Individual tennis courts terraced into a hillside sweeping down into the blue Mediterranean bay with private yachts cruising the crystal blue waters combine to form a feel good factor which in turn demands that you find your tennis rackets and get playing!

If two tennis clubs had equally attractive although different locations a potential customer may then ask the question as to whether there was a significant difference in the facilities that are on offer.

Court and club house construction, the provision of a practice wall, the availability of balls machines for hire and a regular replacement of old for new tennis balls, quality coaching on site possibly accompanied by equipment sales and service, will persuade the customer to choose one venue over the other.

The term facility also covers the inclusion of television screens which relay the big tournament matches, video replay opportunity adds to the value of the lesson or match, tennis magazines allow the customers to keep abreast of the latest tennis news.

The level of equipment that is provided for customer use has an important role to play in creating a learning environment.

Continuing the theme of hotel choice which was firstly identified by location then secondly by facilities, the third area that would impinge upon the customer’s choice would be décor.

This term has been used in a very general sense and its’ application to tennis facilities requires the use of some imagination.

Tennis courts that have attractive player seating on court ,scoreboards, singles sticks, line brushes, water dispensers all help to lift the quality of experience for the players. Likewise clubhouses and courtside buildings that feature exciting pictures, posters and photographs identify the real purpose of the building and its’ relationship to the customer.
The majority of indoor court halls are for reasons of economics very functional, but one that features an end wall poster of a charismatic champion captured in action, especially if enlarged to extraordinary proportions, would be transformed into an inspirational working space.
Although the volume of advice that is given in this section of ‘tangibles’ may not be able to match the quantity that may occur in the others it would be unwise to underestimate the importance of not working to improve the tangible environment.
There is a huge home and garden improvement industry, B+Q, Homebase, etc, which is catering for a nations desire to improve ‘physical setting’, where millions of customers already appreciate the ‘quality of life’ improving benefits of browsing and shopping at these places. Transferring these experiences into the ‘tennis club’ does not require a huge leap of imagination.
One of the most important bonuses of working through this section on tangibles carefully is that its recommendations may be some of the quickest and easiest to implement.
While it may take a considerable length of time for behavior to adapt and change and that may be at a heavy price of soul searching, mentoring and feedback from peers, tidying up the court and its surrounds may be only a few minutes work if attended to regularly and systematically.
Think of your reactions as a customer to the physical environment where you purchase services or goods. What deters you from returning to certain places, what encourages you to go back to others? It can be very easy to be mentally distracted from the task in hand by something being physically not quite right, never mind being downright irritating.

The benefits from improving the physical environment will be recurrent in this toolbox, but without any more help being available, a coach has only to begin asking themselves to mentally describe the setting in which they would most like to be taught, and then compare it with the one where they teach their customers.

The action plan can then begins with what is immediately possible.

· What is required to keep the working area tidy, hygienic and clean?
· How much would it cost to improve the quality of the coaching balls while ensuring a sufficient quantity, and on calculation of this figure how best should

it be financed?

· What is required to be done to provide motivational collages or pictures of

players that will lift the environment and where would they be placed for maximum impact?



Three qualities of a working relationship stand out as having a vital role in transforming it into one that can genuinely be labelled as effective.

· Empathy

· Sincerity
· Care
Those three words above are capable of taking a working relationship from one of dry functional delivery or polite reception of information to one of real significance in the lives of the participants.
Empathy, the ability to understand, allows the relationship to move from a ‘command and do’ format to one where listening and responding occurs without the inaccurate intervention of pre conceived judgments. If this dialogue is conducted with sincerity then the real agendas are the only ones being communicated.
Lastly if there is the backdrop emotion of care present, especially from coach to pupil(s), the tennis progress is less likely to be hampered or damaged. Remember t

  • Effective Working Relationships comprise Empathy / Sincerety / Care

  • Four Ideas for Effective and Healthy Working Relationships

he pupil is a ‘person’ first and foremost. So, if the coach has a feeling of care towards the ‘person’ the pupil in the form of ‘the player’ is much freer to concentrate on the tennis lesson.

Expert coaches and teachers have recognised that the ability to form and sustain effective working relationships with students is as important, if not more, than the knowledge they have to impart as a coach or teacher.

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