People, people, people

Written by Paul Bayliss

When I was  asked to write an article by John Cavill I began the process of thinking not only what subject I would write about but what I considered  that I am most qualified to present. Having spent all of my working life managing and coaching, I decided the subject should be ‘people’.

V2I6 - PaulBayliss1I have been very fortunate meeting a wide variety of people from all over the world of tennis, having spent the last 6 years helping to steer the RPT to the largest coach education provider in the UK market. My role within the RPT is to engage and network with coaches that ‘like what they see’ when they have been on our courses. As a result I come in to contact with coaches that work in every aspect of the game in this country from small community venues to a growing number of coaches like John Cavill that are located at a major club but run programmes in a number of venues heading up a large team of coaches.

I find myself always trying to find out in my own mind what is the common denominator with the successful coaches that exist within the UK? These are either coaches that have continually produced high level junior players or built their club to be a major force in their local area. They all share the vital component of being passionate about the sport. They show a zest for even more knowledge and do not get complacent and strive to find even better ways to coach.

V2I6 - PaulBayliss2But, what is the ‘Golden Nugget’ in terms of those that continually ‘raise the bar’ and keep going   forwards in their career?

Obviously it is not possible to be a successful coach without possessing a good knowledge of the four key areas of tennis; technical, tactical, physical and mental, however although a coach who possesses this knowledge may have all of the ingredients I believe that there is something still missing in the recipe that needs to bind this all together ... a very large dose of PEOPLE SKILLS and a WELL ROUNDED PERSONALITY.

To best explain my belief that it is more about People, People, People and not as I was taught when I started work Location, Location, Location. However important a good location is good people are beacons that shine through wherever they  exist.

I would like to present a few examples of people that I have met to quantify my belief.

Each year the RPT stage its UK annual conference. This year 200 coaches from throughout the UK spent 2 days enthralled by a world class line up of presenters-Claudio Pistolesi (former coach of Robin Soderling), Gabe Jaramillo (coach to 8 former world #1’s and 26 top 10’s) Samuel Lopez (coach of Nicolas Almagro) Luis Medeiro (RPT founder Spain),Juan Esparcia (former coach of Guillermo Garcia-Lopez), Dan Kiernan (founder SOTO tennis Academy), Paul Jessop (CEO Tennisforfree). These coaches have a lifetime of experience between them and all of them have either played or coached at the cutting edge of our game.

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I feel so fortunate to have spent many hours talking, observing and listening to not only these top coaches but have also been totally enthralled at time spent with Emilio Sanchez and Toni Collom (previous coach to Rafael Nadal). In my experience and in particular referring to the Spanish coaches they are totally dedicated, they are sincere and incredibly humble. They have achieved what I am sure many of us aspire to and dream of being in their position. They are genuinely as interested in what you have to say as much as what they believe, open minded and always willing to share ideas. All very heart warming but in my opinion something (in particular) the humble nature is what is missing largely within the framework that exists in our country. Some of you reading this may feel that this is a generalisation and maybe it is, however I am someone that has tried throughout my career to find what is the difference in what happens in Spain and in the UK?  There will always be the argument that it is our facilities that hold us back as a tennis nation, I’m not sure that a nation that is fortunate to invest over 15 times more than is available to Spanish clubs can cite poor facilities and, yes, our climate doesn’t compare as favourably to Spain. However, if I was to put ‘my house on’ the one thing that our ‘system’ in the UK needs to replicate and promote more is that of people skills and strong human qualities that can surge through every level of our game.

A champion starts from within...