High performance coaching is a very emotional endeavor with constant ups and downs. Just when you think everything is going well, and all your players are performing fine, disaster is only one tournament away. Bad losses, an injury, an illness, a personal problem, a bad day or a loss of motivation are only a few of the common events that will negatively affect your players and turn all your plans upside down.
During my term as a National Coach in Germany, there were three girls who reached the finals of the European Championships under fourteen or under sixteen and were not playing tennis at seventeen due to illness or burnout. And those were not isolated events; I witnessed many similar cases throughout my career.
Yet, tough times will also fade when you least expect it. Sometimes, a good match is all it takes to get a player back on track.
A great example of this is Vince Spadea, part of the first group of players in the USTA National Junior Team, traveling with me to Australia.
Vince broke into the top 20 on the ATP Tour in 1999 and got as high as 19 in the world that year. After that, he went through the biggest losing streak in the history of professional tennis, and his ranking dropped to 237.
Most people would have given up at that point, but Vince kept working, and finally, after 21 first round losses, he broke the streak at Wimbledon, beating Greg Rusedski on opening day 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-7 (8), 9-7. From that day, Vince started climbing up the rankings again, and in 2005 reached his highest career ranking of 18. This is an amazing feat and an admirable example of perseverance.
A player’s career is totally unpredictable and so is the world of competitive coaching. It is a roller coaster ride with exhilarating ups and crushing downs, but knowing this will help you keep things in perspective.
Enjoy your work, and do not take wins or loses too seriously; both are just part of the process.
“Do not achieve to be happy but happily achieve.”