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Coaching in Tiburon/Mill Valley has Helped Me Become a Better Player

Updated: Nov 29, 2019

I mentioned in my last blog about my two week coaching period that I’m using as vacation in Tiburon/ Mill Valley, California. I’m still here and leave for Orlando next Tuesday. I’ve been having an amazing time and things have been going as well as I expected. I feel refreshed by taking a break from my typical training routine; I generally have fun while teaching, and me helping the members grow as players has been fulfilling. However, I also feel like I’ve improved as a player which I didn’t expect beforehand.

All week, I have been explaining different doubles concepts and how to hit certain shots. When giving instructions, I’m forced to think deeply about how to perform a skill and why it works. Deep thinking about how to perform a skill or executing a concept forces me to conceptualize the information in my own words. This process gives me a much higher level of understanding. After reaching a deeper level of comprehension, I have to figure out a specific, and simple manner to communicate my ideas. I also have to be conscious of finding trigger words or phrases that click with the person I’m teaching. Everyone has words or phrases that gives them a “ah ha!” moment, but I digress. Me verbalizing my deep understanding simply reinforces the deeper connections made, leading to even more clarity. I think that extreme clarity on how to do any skill is extremely powerful because it allows for a higher level of execution.

I’ll use my understanding of how to properly use momentum/flow as an example. A lot of my time was spent teaching flow because I’ve been working with 3.0 to 4.0 players. Some of the technique I saw can use some work and fixing it requires more than two weeks. Since my time with the club members is limited, I decided that teaching them how to use their momentum would best serve them; momentum used effectively can cover up technical flaws as long as the flaws aren’t too major. Even players at my level don’t always have perfect technique, but they have a good understanding of how to flow to gain natural power on their shots.

At first, my best understanding of how to properly use momentum was on volleys. However, after deep thinking and verbalizing over and over to the members, I gained a deeper understanding of how to use momentum on all shots, especially returns. I started to see how to use momentum in a vacuum rather than only how it related to volleys. When I analyzed flow in a vacuum, I was able to clearly make the connection on how to better apply momentum to other shots. I had an understanding of this before, but it’s much more clear now. Im assuming my increased clarity will help me use my momentum even better. Players that use their momentum well tend to have smoother swings, greater accuracy and improved consistency. Players that swing overly hard are often too erratic in my opinion, but I digress again.

Overall, increased clarity leads to increased awareness; awareness is everything. Increased awareness allows for me to genuinely feel the mistakes I make on court. I’m assuming if I can feel my mistake at a higher level, I can make adjustments faster. I’m very appreciative of Patrick Kaliski for allowing me to teach at Harbor Point; I’m also appreciative of the members for being awesome and helping to create an environment that allows us to both learn and grow. Teaching them has made me a better player. I’ll see you all next time and Happy Thanksgiving.

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