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Coaching Roundtable
How College Programs Develop Leadership

Tennis players are used to operating on their own. Before they reach college, most haven’t been a member of a team or experienced working together for a common goal.

Developing leadership becomes an important goal for coaches once players arrive on campus. Not only will it benefit the team, it will help players in life beyond tennis.

We put the following questions to a panel of coaches to find out how their programs cultivate leaders.


Q) How does your team choose leaders? Is it hard to develop leaders in an individual sport? How important is leadership?

Amanda Augustus, Cal women

“I think you have to really read the team because some teams tend to gravitate towards the more traditional roles with junior and senior leaders and then there are other teams where it has been more of a collective effort. I think one cool thing is sort of learning as a coach to be open with different types of leadership and realizing different ones can be effective. I’ve been coaching for 13 years now and I’ve done it where it has been a vote and when players are nominated. I have done it all kinds of different ways. We have also done it after the fall semester after we let them get to know each other. I think it’s pretty hard with new kids on the team to have opinions about it until they have been on the team for a little while. I feel like this generation is a little more open to speaking up within the team maybe more so than previous generations. If they have something to say that benefits the team, I think that person ends up leading.

I think as kids transition out of juniors into college, they actually come to enjoy the team dynamics and it’s fun to see them expand that leadership role. They get involved in things on campus and in student athletic leadership. I also see them taking that next step either in a class or with other student-athletes. I always try to encourage them to pursue that and try to develop confidence in that way.

Leadership is a skill you want to see everyone on your team develop to help them beyond tennis and into their life. Everyone says you should have one captain or two captains, but ideally you want them to be as functional when you are not there as when you are and that is going to mean all of them stepping up at some point and feeling confident to do that. On women’s teams that is super important, so they all have to learn to speak up when they need to in any situation.”

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