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Tips from a tennis coach
Tim Henman gets some coaching

LTA tennis coach Daniel Thorp serves up his advice on what makes coaching the best job in the world.

  • I mostly coach juniors ranging from complete beginners starting at four or five years old, through to older and better standard juniors. I also coach adult recreational players.

  • There's no greater buzz than seeing the enjoyment of improving, whether it's a good player getting a national ranking or a beginner completing their first ten-shot rally.

  • Coming from a playing background gives you a great start because you're able to give people advice which you know works.

  • But you don't need to be Andre Agassi. Even as a half decent player you can still work with beginners or juniors.

  • It's hard to learn to coach on your own. You need to find somewhere where there are role models who you can aspire to be like and also colleagues who can work and develop ideas with you.

  • I don't have a set style because you need to adapt for different situations. I like to be enthusiastic and bring a motivating factor to my coaching so everyone works hard and enjoy themselves.

  • With parents, players or whoever, always talk to them about what you would like to happen rather than what's gone wrong. Criticism can almost be a culture.

  • One thing I have learnt is that you can't produce all the enthusiasm, it's up to group to bring their own ideas as well.

  • Confidence plays a big part. When I first started I was nervous and the kids would sense that and play up.

  • The key thing is to create an environment that rewards good behaviour or players working well. Hopefully the kids who aren't paying attention will pick up on that.

  • If a child wants to do well in sport then the one thing they do need is enthusiastic parents.

  • There's nothing worse than finding a child who has a little bit of talent and their parents aren't bothered.

  • Get some experience in your local area by finding your local sports club or contacting your local development officer and just help out with some junior sessions to begin with.

  • Then start asking about the qualifications. Most sports have an introductory qualification that you can do which will give you a feel of what coaching that sport is all about.

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  • I try and make sport fun for my boys and encouraging their friends to join in. And I make it part of their weekly routine.
    - John Dewar, father of two


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