Discover The Team Behind A Top 100 Player

Do you want to learn the secret behind the creation of a successful tour player?  Well that’s something I always wondered when I was growing up as a child.  I used to sit in front of the TV with my grandma to watch players like Henman and Agassi play.  They were like 'mythical beings' to me- I wondered why I couldn’t play tennis like they did.  Their ‘natural’ talent, their athletic abilities and their calm focussed mentalities baffled me.  That is until I began the journey to professional tennis myself.

Quote that Supports the importance of team work in tennis
A Great Quote About the Importance of a Support Team

 

With this blog, I aim to share my knowledge in the attempt to enlighten you on the unseen support and work that goes into producing the best players in the world.  Over the years, on my ongoing journey to the top, I have experienced first-hand a lot of the work that players do behind the scenes.  I have taken many of the same steps that current grand slam players have taken.  I’ve spent hours and hours practicing each week, travelled extensively to compete on the junior circuit, then made the transition to the ITF Pro Circuit.

Fortunately, on my journey, I’ve had the opportunity to work with some world class training teams and get a glimpse into the lives of some of the greatest players in history.  In the following passages, I will share with you my ‘behind the scenes’ knowledge and give you some insight into the teams that help our idols get to such an incredible level.

5 Team Members Behind World Class Players

This picture illustrates the various members of a successful tennis team!
Illustration of a player's support team

1. The Coach

Their role is to help guide the player in the right direction by creating clear goals and ensuring there’s a process to achieving them.  This process of goal setting starts by evaluating the players game, with the input of the player themselves, and producing goals for how the player wants to improve or build upon their game.  

As well as creating a clear structure to improving, the coaches of top players do it in a way that is highly motivating.  We will visit the mental side of the game when talking about the role a psychologist plays in the development of a world class player- but it is worth noting that coaches can have huge influence on a player’s mental side too.  I believe this is a huge factor in how Becker and Lendl have helped Djokovic and Murray in the last few years.  Having these two multiple Grand Slam champions in their corners has given them knowledge and a mental edge into winning at major events.  After bringing Lendl into his team, Murray went on to win the 2012 Olympic and Wimbledon titles.  Coincidence? I think not!

Hoyt, Edmund, Cambridge Junior Davis Cup Winners 2011

2. The Fitness Trainer

Their job is to guide their player through a tennis-specific strength and conditioning programme that aims to reduce the likelihood of injury and enhance the player’s athletic performance i.e. components such as speed, power, agility, co-ordination and endurance.

Murray’s fitness trainer, Matt Little recognises the importance of meeting physical goals in order to continue competing at the highest level in tennis.  "I know how strong he needs to be.  I know how fast he needs to be.  I know how fit he needs to be.  And once he has those stats, I know it is okay and I can back off him" said Matt about Murray.  I’ve had strength and conditioning (S&C) sessions run by both Matt and Steve Kotze (a new addition to the Murray S&C team), when I was working at the National Centre.  I recall throwing up numerous times during metabolic sessions on the Wattbike!

3. The Physiotherapist

Del Potro Physio StretchingTheir job is to treat any injury or muscle soreness and work in conjunction with the fitness trainer to produce an injury prevention programme.  I know first hand that Murray travels everywhere with his physiotherapist in order to keep his body in ideal condition to compete.  His physiotherapist, Shane Annun, warms his muscles up at the start of each day through massage and also treats any niggles or soreness he may encounter throughout the long tennis season.  Many other players in the top 100 simply utilise the physiotherapists provided at tournaments to take care of their bodies.

4. The Psychologist

"Tennis is 90% mental"!  This is what Richard de Souza used to tell me in our psychology sessions.  Richard is a ‘mental coach’ who has worked with many people in varying professions, but particularly with elite tennis players.  His most notable success was when he took Jonny Marray under his wing and turned him into Wimbledon Doubles Champion.  The power of the mind has been proven countless times with all the research and studies conducted over the years.

Richard de Souza with Jonny Marray, Wimbledon Champion psychologist
Richard with Jonny after his Wimbledon Doubles Triumph

All you have to do is google “psychology” and you’ll be shown a million search results to prove the complexity and power of the mind.  It’s an area that I'm extremely interested in, and it’s an area that has enormous potential for growth and improvement.  So why not train your mind, just like you train on court and in the gym?  Psychologists are some of the most important, but also unseen members of a world class player’s team. 

5. The Nutritionist

What we put into our bodies is what ultimately fuels us to function.  We cannot survive without adequate nutrition.  However, a sports nutritionist takes that one step further- they ensure that athletes perform and recover optimally by providing them with nutritional education and services.

Glenn Kearney, nutritionist to Murray and the lead nutritionist at the LTA, helps athletes by educating them on meal plans, nutritional timing, supplements and much more.  With such extensive physical demands on the body whilst training and competing, he states that “smart nutrition can make you just that few percent better…and that can be the difference between winning and losing at the top level”.

…And finally, who travels?

Hoyt and Nadal training at wimbledon 2011 on the tennis court
Nadal and I Training at Wimbledon 2011

It is totally dependent on the player!  It is an issue of money and preference.  In 2011, I practiced with Nadal on five consecutive days during the second week of Wimbledon.  The team that travelled to help him included: his coach (Uncle Tony), fitness trainer, physiotherapist and agent.  By no means a small entourage!  Other grand slam players may prefer, or be limited to travel with only one coach or fitness trainer- since , *finances sometimes limit the way that players organise their tennis*! This is the next blog post topic- Managing your finances and tennis

I hope you found this post insightful! Thank you ever so much for reading!

Please feel free to leave a comment or ask a question in the comments section below- I promise I’ll reply!

Big hug,

Evan

Comments

  1. Arnie Sho

    A beautiful, well written, enlightening article. Nice one. Love the fact it’s simple and straight to the point.
    A question about what was written though: Weighing cost against correctness, would it be okay to hire one person to fill all the roles I.e. coach, physio, nutritionist, etc
    Thanks and keep up the great job.

  2. Evan

    Certainly! To an extent I think if you’re not a player at the top of the game and don’t need to be provided the highest levels of tennis, s&c and physio then yes. I would think that there are very few coaches that have huge depth of knowledge in all those fields to be able to take on all those roles for a top player. That being said, I know several ex-tennis players turned Physio’s, who would be able to take on coaching and s&c roles! Good question, and something that’s definitely worth considering!
    I’ve actually written a blog on minimising costs when setting up tennis- here’s the link: http://evanhoyt.co.uk/improve-your-tennis-on-a-budget/

  3. 918kiss my slots

    Simplly want to say your article is as amazing. The
    clarity in your publjsh is simply great and i caan assujme you are a professional in this subject.
    Fine together with your permission allow me to snatch yoyr feed to stay up to dae
    with coming near near post. Thanks one million and please carry on the rewarding work. http://www.reikonguild.de/forum/profile.php?mode=viewprofile&u=14732

Add A Comment