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June 6, 2019
As part of UK Coaching’s Coaching Week, we want to celebrate the fantastic coaches who help to make Surrey Sports Park a thriving hub of sporting excellence.
Our third subject is SSP Director of Tennis, Nick Ingham – a man who one of his pupils calls ‘the best tennis coach in the south of England’!
What is your coaching philosophy?
To have fun. Especially with the juniors. I want them to have a great time on court and be looking forward to coming back next week. With regards to adults, I think it’s a different philosophy because I think they’re eager to learn to maximize their potential. So I want to impart my knowledge to them, so they can improve the standard of their play.
But it’s very much an individual thing – you have to case your lesson to the individual or individuals. I don’t think you can generalize and say ‘I’m going to go onto court and I’m going to teach the lesson this way’. I think you have to evaluate the student and then cater the lesson to them.
What do you think makes a good coach?
I think probably 80% of it is personality. I think you’ve got to have the outgoing personality to be able to click with your student. I think if you can’t relate to the person you’re on court with, and if you can’t impart your knowledge to them, I think you’re going to struggle. You’ve got to be able to be bubbly. Make sure they have fun but also make sure they’re learning, so you have to appreciate the levels they are at.
With the juniors you’re thinking, ‘OK, these are the players of tomorrow’, and it’s probably even more important that they come on and have a good time, because they’re hopefully going to be with me for the next 10 years.
I can go into court with somebody who literally has difficulty making contact with the ball, and in a way, for me, it’s even more rewarding at the end of the hour when they’re hitting five shots in a row, and you see the delight and satisfaction on their face because they’re thinking ‘I can play this game’. Sometimes that’s better than having a high-class player going out and winning matches.
Is there one coach who has particularly influenced you, and made what made them so good?
I had a coach who took me through my junior coaching, playing tournaments, and then when I got to a stage where realistically I wasn’t going to make it as a player, he said ‘I need an apprentice, would you be interested in doing a year-and-a-half apprenticeship with me?’ He imparted his coaching knowledge to me – hence I got into coaching. He was just the perfect role model. I used to sit and watch him, and he would cater his lesson to that person. If it was a serious player, it would be a high-intensity lesson. Whereas if it was a group of kids he’d be bubbly, he had fun with them. He was just a great role model.
Book a place on one of Nick’s Junior Summer Camps running during July and August – click here for details