October 16, 2023 - How to Get the Most Out of Your Session With a Coach

Depending on the coach and the location, you may be paying anywhere from $30 to $100/hour for a professional coach. So you want to get the most out of it. Here are some things to consider. Don't be shy about discussing with the coach what you want out of a session. Here are six things to consider.

  1. Warmup. You might try to warm up with someone first so as not to spend much time on this with the coach.
  2. Improving and fine-tuning shots. This is where you take the shots you already do pretty well and, as the subtitle says, fine-tune them. For this, the coach is likely more of a backboard, blocking while you tee off with your forehand and backhand loops and drives. Or, if you are a defensive player, you are the one blocking or chopping while the coach does the attacking shots.
  3. Fix weaknesses. This is what most go to coaches for. Between you and your coach, work out what weaknesses you need to fix. Then work to perfect the technique, with the coach again acting as a backboard for you to work on the shot. Or it might be something else - footwork, serve, receive, and so on. Make it your goal to turn these weaknesses into strengths!
  4. Develop overpowering strengths. This is often the forgotten part. While you need to work on your weaknesses, if you want to really improve a level, you need strengths that threaten players at that level. Discuss with your coach what your strengths or potential strengths are. Then work both on them, and on the techniques that set up that strength. For example, if you have a big forehand loop, then you want serves, receives, and rallying shots that set that up, as well as the footwork to get it into play.
  5. Develop new techniques. Think about your game and watch top players and figure out what new techniques you need to develop. Sometimes it's something obvious, like a backhand loop. Other times it's something less obvious, like a serve that might set up your strengths. Discuss these things with your coach.
  6. Play points. All the technique work doesn't help if you don't put them into play in game-like situations. Often toward the end of a session is a good time to do this with the coach. You might try improvised points, where you have to start the rally by using the technique you were working on. For example, if you are developing a backhand loop against backspin, play points where you serve backspin, the coach pushes to your backhand, you backhand loop, and then play out the point.