– Alan Lane, coach

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS WHY I DO WHAT I DO -

I do ten­nis be­cause I delved thor­oughly into the whole back­ground of this amaz­ing sport. I’ve coached for many, many years, but the weird part is when I was play­ing on the cir­cuit I would tell peo­ple I would never coach be­cause it is the worst job. NEVER was I go­ing to be a ten­nis coach!

Any­way when I was about 30, rel­a­tives got to me and said can you teach our kids a bit, so I said al­right, bring them along at 10 am on Satur­day. And then a few more kids came and then it was 9 am, and then it was OK, come on Sun­day too and it grad­u­ally built into a full­time job.

And at that point I was quite sur­prised to find I ac­tu­ally en­joyed it. And what I en­joyed was try­ing to help peo­ple, and I’ve al­ways had a skill of be­ing able to eval­u­ate where the pupil is at and then with my de­sire to ad­vance them as best they could I found it in­cred­i­bly re­ward­ing. And the more I got into it the more I re­alised this whole sport is com­pli­cated – I got to see that ten­nis and life were pretty much the same.

In my re­cent book on ten­nis psy­chol­ogy I make the point that if I watch a kid for a week on court I know how he be­haves at home. You’re try­ing to teach the kids to be­come bet­ter but ten­nis is so sim­i­lar to life – though ten­nis is a lot, lot eas­ier to mas­ter than life.

If you’re mak­ing a player, you’re also mak­ing a per­son. A cham­pion is not just a cham­pion hit­ter of the ball – he or she is a cham­pion in all ar­eas. They know how to ac­cept a loss – grace­fully – and they also know a loss is an op­por­tu­nity to learn some­thing. And with that learn­ing they can then ap­ply them­selves at prac­tice.

And they also need re­spect – to study those who have gone be­fore. From that you may pick up some par­tic­u­lar item, and ev­ery­thing helps.

Last week I was teach­ing some kids and I showed them an old, old pic­ture of a French­man play­ing at Staten Is­land, New York. It was Rene La­coste. I asked what was so im­por­tant about him and it turned out to be his nick­name – “Croc­o­dile”. On court, fight like a croc­o­dile, never give up, never. Once he stepped on court you knew he was there un­til the death. I was say­ing to the kids, be like him, be an­other Lley­ton He­witt. You have to dig in and never panic.

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