We know the saying “..When the student is ready the teacher will appear..”
However before the student is ready, a coach (not exactly a teacher–there are differences) is still required.
In my humble opinion, parent is not fit for coaching; at least not alone. A parent is a part of support group (which also includes rest of the family and the “village”); focusing on (and responsible for) several fronts of his or her child development and not just on a single skill or single focus. On the other hand, coaching is a targeted approach, focusing on a single facet of a child. In coaching, a problem (or target skill) is identified, solution is designed and supervision is provided until the problem is solved. It does not cater for anything outside the scope of the defined problem and that is rightly so; as, if the scope of coaching is not narrow enough, it will be harder to solve.
But mainly, kids just do not always listen to or agree with parents. While kids have a right to express themselves 😉 , that makes it harder for a parent to enforce their practice in entirety and that’s why I was also looking for a coach; I was hoping I would be able to convey my concerns through the coach or my son could second verify with the coach if he did not agree with me on something. [Though it isn’t that plain and simple in real life 🙂 ].
Finding the coach is also a difficult task, especially when starting with young kids.
I first took my son to a nearby club coach and to my surprise, on first day he just delegated the coaching (of around 10 kids of similar age) to a 10 year old girl, who equally had no clue as her pupils!. It happened again in the next lesson. Though I paid for the whole term, we did not go again.
Then I heard from our neighbours about some famous coach who apparently coached one of the international tennis star in his childhood. I took my son to him and enrolled for one term group lessons. The coach was there for the first couple of lessons and then again the group was delegated to one of his subordinates. Though that subordinate was good, I did not like the delegation. Also by that time I had developed a distaste for group coaching. For my son, group coaching was not very productive.
This is when I took things into my hand and started training my son until the day when state tennis development manager helped me find a coach. I was a bit lucky in this case as I was able to get a performance coach, given my son’s very young age.
I would suggest to hire someone (for coach) who had the highest ATP rank in your area. At the minimum, a coach must have some ATP ranking in the past. If you can’t find any ATP ranked player in your area, you (a parent) probably are better off coaching your kid yourself.
I am not sure why but I find that (ex) professional players talk and analyse the game differently than coaches, who never played professionally.
I find those coaches, with professional experience, talk less but are more direct, while trying to be polite. They also have a bit of ego (or pride). For some reasons, I understand them better 🙂 .
But again, there is also a problem in this approach. Generally any ATP experienced coach would already be very busy and may not have time.
Further, it is very unlikely that any ATP experienced coach would like to coach little kids, he (or she) would rather coach older juniors, which make better use of his (or her) skills and time.
Unfortunately, the only solution to that problem is to use your social skills 🙂 [whatever it takes approach] to convince the coach to take your kid under his supervision. Also it helps if you are a little flexible with your time; like if your kid is happy to train a little late in evening. My son gets his lesson after 6:30 pm (once the coach is finished with everyone else 🙂 )