© Ella Ling

Rafael Nadal celebration

How to be a great coach

   

Olga Morozova, a former French Open and Wimbledon finalist, who is now working with Svetlana Kuznetsova, tells you how to be a great coach:

Know when to be strong and when to stand back
You have to have knowledge of the game and then you have to have your own ideas of how the game is supposed to progress. But especially for a coach who was a good tennis player before, it’s very important to stand back a little. Tennis players are supposed to make his or her own decisions on the court. If the coach is too pushy or selfish or egoistic then it will not be the player’s decision, it will be the decision of the coach. Then when a player needs to make a decision on court at the important time, they won’t be able to do it. You have to be in the shadow of your player and you have to be very careful about making sure that everyone around will know that it’s his or her decision. That’s very important.

Don’t be afraid to learn from everyone and anyone
I’m lucky because my husband is a coach too and a combination of his knowledge and my knowledge works well. You cannot be afraid to ask and you cannot be afraid to learn from your player. Sometimes the good coaches learn from players, not from themselves. You still have to have a vision and feel for what they can do and what can happen, especially with your player.

Support your player in every way
It’s very, very important with the top players to give them the opportunity to feel that whatever happened on the court, you are with them. They have to understand and feel that whatever happens, you’re on their side and will do whatever’s necessary to make things work. You have to be 100 percent with them. You don’t have your life anymore, when you’re with them – you have to be there for them.

Be adaptable
Now, a tennis coach is not only about the tennis. You’re supposed to be a psychologist sometimes and sometimes you are supposed to be an expert in fitness. If a player didn’t sleep well or has a stomach upset, they would not produce certain things on the court so you have to know what to do and to give them a second plan for this situation.

Like the player you work with
We had a very, very good coach at figure skating and she was coaching one of the very craziest girls who was impossible to like. But she just said: ‘I love it’. She’s right because you have to love it. They have to have the feeling that you are together in everything.

Be organised
You have to be ready not five minutes before, not 10 minutes before, but for everything the person does. You not only have to plan for today, you have to plan for the whole year. Every day things can change. You’re supposed to have ideas all the time but if something doesn’t work, you have to find a second plan, something that will help.

Because I was the best in Russia at the time, it was easy to say do this, don’t do this, but it’s not exactly what you have to do when you’re a tennis coach. Sometimes I think (listening) is my problem. There is such pressure on tour that you have to give them the opportunity to say whatever worries them and then to have a nice answer or a patient answer. That can be a problem for me because sometimes I can immediately feel what’s happening or what she’s talking about and I answer immediately. Sometimes that’s not right because you have to wait and let them finish. I am learning. I am not afraid to learn. I’m still learning.