SOUTHLAND’S next generation of tennis coaches have been learning their trade during a three-day workshop in Invercargill.
Four aspiring coaches, including talented junior players Emma White, Holly Munro and Jess Willans, along with Steve Wadsworth, were put through their paces as part of the Tennis New Zealand coach assistant course at ILT Stadium Southland last Friday to Sunday.
The course was organised by Tennis Southland and supported by Sport Southland’s Kiwisport fund.
Tennis Southland general manager Jo Grimwood said coaching had been identified as an opportunity for the organisation.
“We’ve got great player growth at that junior level, so it’s really important that we have coaches available to help cater for that and to bring those new players through,” Grimwood said.
“We are pretty well served when it comes to our professional coaches in Southland, but we do have a gap at that grassroots level and this sort of opportunity will help with that.”
The first day of the workshop also included the final session of a six-week Tennis Tasters programme run by the Waihopai Tennis Club, which has introduced a group of Years 7 and 8 pupils from James Hargest College to the game and was also supported by Kiwisport funding.
Tennis New Zealand coach development manager Patrick Landy, who led the coach assistant course, said coaching was vital to growing the game.
“We are trying to increase the number and quality of coaches across New Zealand and from there produce more players,” Landy said.
Landy travels the country facilitating coaching courses from beginner level to international qualifications, with a strong focus on making sure the player has a good time and is encouraged to stay in the game.
“It’s really about maximum participation, giving kids a great first experience of the game. We challenge some of the traditional coaching approaches – kids waiting in line, too much focus on technique – we focus on serve, rally and score from day one,” Landy said.
“We have a student-centred approach to all our learning and coaching. Everyone plays the sport for different reasons. Not everyone is trying to be New Zealand’s next number one, some people just want to be social, have fun and keep fit.”