Approaching The High School Game for Coaches

"Thought Briefing on (mostly)
Challenge Matches to Qualify a Player's Position"

I wanted to offer a brief thought about coaching the High School tennis game for Coaches. I hope this is helpful to someone. It's meant to be more of an approach perspective.

Planning that new season out and thinking of how to go about it again? Think about first things first. High School Tennis Coaches have to first decide their role in the players (team) tennis game. Here are some things to consider:

1. Are you a developer, a manager, or both?
- DEVELOPERS are on a slow steep trajectory, they incorporate many players within a given position on the team, it's not an earned place on the team by way of competition, it's more do to preparedness and drive to face challenges which serve to transform players along the way with everything else.
- MANAGERS are more so position shifters and pairing agents for the moment. They calculate competitive circumstances and work with the (often times little talent) resources to convert them to some type of asset. Managers often (sometimes too frequently) use mechanisms like the "challenge match" to determined who is best for the position. This isn't the best idea, because the losing player might just be the better player under unconscious-competitive situations. Sometimes players are great in challenge ladders because they are conscious (thus comfortable) of their challenger... However, when facing a new circumstance unfamiliar tactics, they don't fair as well. 

2. What's the mission of the team?
- As the coach, the Athletic Director may give you both responsibility and authority to set the tone for the tennis athletic program. Mission is important to appreciate the purpose of taking more or fewer players on the team... Is it a 4year plan whereby you set players on a trajectory to be successful on the 3rd or 4th year... Is it recreational or competitive?

3. What's the Purpose and the Process?
- In other words, know the difference between the two. After you have a solid purpose for the high school program, [**side note this may also be congruent to your Mission] ...Create a process that's geared towards the purpose. Most coaches get caught up in "Practice" over the "Principles" of their decision. Practice is more like a process... there are a million ways to do it. Stop just doing things because it's easy or normal. Instead create steps that truly connect with why you exist and what you hope to accomplish. Remember process surrenders to purpose.

...I kept every player who tried out that year. About 60 players plus stayed throughout the year. I took their season and designed it into the framework of a development system. Winners aren’t just made, they are encouraged and enabled along the way.
— jesse cooper

Along the above lines there is always a consideration of policies and rules each coach must drop into their creative and thought plan equation.
Whether it's the Athletic Director or the District/State or some other league... Compliance is always something to consider. Don't bend the rules, rather work within the boundaries better to first establish a great vision, purpose and action-plan that will move your players (students) through their most formative years in life.

Like this and want more? Feel free to request more from Jesse Cooper. speaking engagements, live video conferences, and more. Ask Jesse (click here)