Gary Sherby is tennis director at Racquets and Togs Tennis Center, 115 Bradford St., just off the downtown square. His tennis tips appear Sundays.
When you’re tearing your hair out wondering why your game has gone sour, a knowledgeable, understanding coach can be invaluable. His or her experienced, trained eye sees things you may be missing out on the court.
The coach watches your matches, recommends positive changes, hits balls with you and helps you prepare mentally for competition. The coach is there when things go wrong and when things go right.
Experienced coaches have seen their fair share of competition; they’ve been there, done that. They’ve made all the mistakes. Fortunately, you don’t have to make those same mistakes if you listen to their advice. Reputable coaches know a lot more about tennis than their students; they’ve got more to say than "watch the ball" and "get your racket back." Actually, the strokes you use are often just the tip of the iceberg in a mental game like tennis.
Coaches are usually watching their students more than the ball, so their own games often tend to fall off. They’re usually older too, so it’s not unusual for the young player to be physically superior. However, that’s not important: World-class players take coaching from coaches they can beat.
So if a well-meaning coach (or a well-meaning parent) offers valuable advice, don’t shrug it off; listen and learn. Expect favorable results but not miracles. Ultimately you’re in charge. It’s your own game and you’re responsible for your performance.