Tennis Coaches and Their Pupils: Walking the Tightrope?

josh millarSenior Analyst IAugust 28, 2008

I was watching USA Network's coverage of the US Open yesterday, and during Ana Ivanovic’s match, John McEnroe and Jim Courrier and Tracy Austin were having a discussion about the uniqueness of the player-coach relationship in the sport.

The aforementioned commentators suggested that coaches had to walk a fine line: attempting to improve a player while not aggravating them for fear of being fired.

So I started thinking (rightly or wrongly) about the attitude of tennis players.

Do they want to get better and be the best, or do they want to hear someone else reaffirm how good they THINK they are?

There are players on tour who have had a revolving door of coaches, namely Marat Safin and Richard Gasquet.

Although Gasquet is still young, you could argue that both players have underachieved for their talent. Perhaps a lack of direction can be to blame for that?

The skeptic would say Roger Federer shoots that theory down. I can hear you saying as you read “Roger Federer’s won majors coachless.”  I say: Not everyone is Roger Federer.

There’s no formula for how long you should retain a coach for, but sometimes with all the money out there, it makes you wonder how many players want coaches who push them while nurturing them, or coaches who just nurture them?