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Know Your Stuff!

One of the most common questions people ask me is how I can relate to so many different types of personalities on the tennis court. They say, "Nick, how is it that you can motivate players with so many diverse backgrounds?" Well, it ain't easy! From Andre Agassi to Maria Sharapova to Tommy Haas, each player has their own way of dealing with everything. The most important thing to remember when dealing with a player at any level is that you have to know your stuff! If you don't, you risk losing their trust and respect.

Now, to do this correctly, you need to know each of your students from A to Z! Each student is different, but it is up to you, as the coach, to find the way. For example, some students learn with visual example, some like simple tips and adjustments and others like more detailed tips. One of the biggest mistakes that I see coaches make is when they explain something to their student and just assume that the student understands. You have to ask them if they completely comprehend what you are saying, and then have them demonstrate it visually. This is crucial to the learning process.

When I first started coaching Boris Becker, I didn't speak to him for the first week. I just watched and observed. Finally, Boris said to me, "Mr. B, are you ever going to speak?" I said, "Boris, when I talk to you I better know what I am talking about, and I better know that what I say is going to be meaningful." From that point on, Boris and I had the ultimate respect for one another, and he knew that when I talked to him it was important. Too many coaches just shoot from the hip and, after a while, your students just stop listening. That is when a change must be made.

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