There is nothing more valuable in life than a great coach. They not only teach us the game, but are there in tough times to inspire, motivate, and instill confidence. They create a ‘home away from home’ and as I developed through the years my gratitude for all they have done has only strengthened. We as coaches need to ensure that we are not only coaching our students on their game but that we are a genuine friend as well.
Surround yourself with the right people:
Growing up on the streets of the Bronx, I learned from an early age that one of the most important things in your development is who you surround yourself with. I could never afford lessons from a tennis pro so at the age of 9 I joined the local co-op city tennis club in my community. All of the coaches were volunteers and I was overwhelmed with how they immediately took me in, eventually becoming my second family. I always remembered how they treated me like I was important and how they cared for me and not just my game. They instilled positivity and confidence every step of the way. This was crucial to my becoming the coach I am today.
Hard work always pays off:
My coaches always told me, ‘The price of success is hard work.’ I knew any shortcomings in my game could be made up for with consistency and dedication to the game. I remember when I was sponsored by the Reebok Urban Youth Tennis Academy, a notable distinction as they chose the top 25 kids in New York City, how much I committed myself to achieving this goal. There was no secret to success. Just perseverance, constant learning, and love for what you do. It was easy to give this effort when you had the support of your coaches.
Be a role model:
We often don’t recognize true role models until we have noticed our own personal growth and progress. It wasn’t until later in my career that I was able to look back at my coaches over the years and came to an eye-opening realization: they were content with their achievements yet always striving to be better. These were great human beings who set an example, gave me an ideal to strive towards, and were always there for me. I carried this philosophy into my lessons as a coach and absorbed it into my DNA. It is most honorable to be able to hear my students (friends) come back and express how much I meant to them in their lives in addition to helping them with their game.
Written by Josh Bill is the Director of Tennis at The New Rochelle Racquet Club.