Antoine Pourin, you are a coach at the HDN Academy. How do you see your role as a teacher? What do you think makes a good tennis teacher?
We coaches are incredibly lucky. We have a profession in which we live from our passion. The coach is a guide. It is he who shows the way, sets the rules and leads the player, the group he is responsible for to success. Whether he likes it or not, the coach directs, influences and leaves his mark on the work he performs with a group, a player, a club. His responsibility is great because according to the decisions he makes, according to the way he adapts his speech, according to his technical, tactical and physical choices, he can sublimate or on the contrary destroy his player. Therefore, as a coach, we have a duty to project an irreproachable professional image: always arrive on time, do not or hardly use your phone on the courts, do not smoke in front of members, have a positive speech and speak positively of his club, volunteers, members. I want to insist now on the motivation of the coaches. We all know that the position of coaches in clubs is difficult. Too often we are frustrated at not being able to follow through with our ideas, at feeling misunderstood by the office, by our colleagues. Tennis is evolving and needs us! We are the first actors in the success of our students, we are on the front line when our students look at us with stars in their eyes, when they come to see us and give us their results, rankings… Let’s focus on all these things positive, on this passion that makes our students look at us with admiration, with the desire to make us proud, to show us what they are capable of. volunteers, members. I want to insist now on the motivation of the coaches. We all know that the position of coaches in clubs is difficult. Too often we are frustrated at not being able to follow through with our ideas, at feeling misunderstood by the office, by our colleagues. Tennis is evolving and needs us! We are the first actors in the success of our students, we are on the front line when our students look at us with stars in their eyes, when they come to see us and give us their results, rankings.
You are a teacher in a known and recognized academy, you bring your young people to tournaments. The referees see you, know you, the presidents of the other clubs. So you have to be attentive always attentive to the image you send back?
The teacher is the image of his club, of course. He must constantly pay attention to what he releases, to what he expresses, to his mood which must always be good at the club! The image is also and strongly due to what one wears: non-verbal communication is 93% of communication, which is why it is mandatory that all coaches under contract respect the brands that sponsor them and play the play to the max. A coach who is dressed from head to toe with the same brand, who has the club sponsor’s racket with the brand logo on it, will initially have more credibility and attention than a good coach who does not Pay attention to his image. On this, the coach has a huge role to play, such as selling the most suitable equipment for each of his students.
How do you manage to manage the moments of tension which do not fail to arrive since you are in charge of young people, and sometimes players who have, let’s say, character?
In any case, the coach must be the one who takes a step back, the one who weighs his words, who controls his frustrations, his reactions. It’s true that sometimes it’s hard to take a step back because his nerves are put to the test! It is he who is at the crossroads between the individual, the group, the parents, the hopes and who is there during victories and defeats. It is therefore the receptacle of the emotions of the players, of the group, whose attitude can sometimes be variable; it is he who receives the speech of the parents, with whom he must dialogue to be attentive to the project of the young people. And, of course, on D-Day, the day of the matches, it is he who experiences the event with his player, who must take stock, and make the tactical choices with his pupil. That’s a lot to manage. To avoid losing control, to get over his nerves when following a player or in training, the coach must never act under the influence of emotion. He must take the necessary step back and always act coldly in order to be as fair as possible to convey the message he wants.
How do you convey these messages?
Good coaching requires good communication. The coach must adapt his body language, his vocabulary, the rhythm and the intonation of his voice, to each one. We do not always measure the weight of the words or of our non-verbal language. We are even sometimes far from imagining the effect they produce on our interlocutor. Our speech must always be adapted to the event, the person or the group you have in front of you. Sometimes you have to know how to restore confidence, other times to provoke or comfort. You have to adapt your speech according to what the player is going through, the objectives to be achieved, and the expected effect.
How do you manage to reason with a player, to enter his world so that he listens to you?
There is no miracle cure for all, no map of the world truer or more real than another. There are different representations, more or less detailed, more or less precise. In a conflict, trying to find out who is right is useless, since everyone is right in their experience. Everyone interprets what happens to them according to their experience, culture, education, ideas, etc. In fact, it is not reality that limits us, but the idea that we have of things. The role of the coach will be here to enter the world of his player, to understand his functioning, to determine his type of game, his qualities, his weaknesses, his physical aptitudes and his psychology. He can only really act by apprehending the inner world of his player.
What are the particularities of your approach at the HDN Academy?
We assume that each player represents a trajectory, a different path. And has technical bases, a morphology, a culture, a psychology of its own. So we discuss with the player in order to establish his “identity” of play, to find a point of balance which takes into account all these parameters and his desires. It is only from this approach that we organize the work.
We also make sure that the coaches train, progress and are happy to help all these young people working hard to achieve their dreams every day. This is why we have created a pre-training module for DE JEPS. Here, each “apprentice coach” benefits from personalized follow-up with a program that perfectly matches their requirements: rise to 15/2 in 1 or 2 years, work on the organization of sessions, on soft skills, mock exams to prepare for the selection tests… Everything is done so that the trainee passes the selection tests but above all, that he always keeps his stay in the Hauts de Nimes in his heart, regardless of the duration of his adventure with us!