Sometime you don’t spend a lot of time with people but you learn from them. You watch them. You see how they talk, listen, write… What kind of language, framework, words they use. How they live their lives, eventually you have some conversations with them…
That’s what happened with Sven, he is Maria Sharapova’s coach, and he has coached and consulted with the best tennis players in the world for the last 25 years (a bunch of #1 and #2 in the world like Roger Federer if you’ve ever heard of him) starting with Monica Seles – he even has a Wikipedia page – which is certainly the most important factor of credibility you can have in your life. You can die after that.
So one day, Vincent Bonnin (from Blog Tennis Concept) told me : « Sven, commented one of your videos ». (I do coaching videos about strategies and mental toughness in french).
Sven who ?
I’m embarrassed to say : but I did not know him. Actually I did not know any ATP/WTA tennis coach.
So I checked his Wikipedia page. Of course.
I contacted him and answered the question in the comment.
Since then, we spent few hours on Skype and we met in Roland Garros and had interesting conversations. And he gave me tickets invitation for the WTA Finals in Singapore. Thank you Sven ! I guess I had longer conversations with him than most people I meet (when you share the same passion it’s easier).
Here 10 lessons I learnt from a world-class coach who has coached the top of his industry. I guess if you’re coach it can helps you.
GIVE GIVE GIVE
I have experienced Sven generosity. In June I asked him to host a clinic in his Academy in Amsterdam.
Why not in France ?
Because his Academy is one of the few that have installed the PlaySight system on their courts. Also a sign that he is ahead of the curve. This is a technology with 5 cameras to analyse everything (strokes, speed, %, trajectories…). He said yes and it was fantastic.
He offered me tickets to the WTA Finals.
It inspired me. I gave away access to my online course to some of my readers during that period, I felt a rush of generosity.
So what can I give today ? How can I help others access their greatness ?
SERVE SERVE SERVE
As a coach, you are here to serve. Not to please. But to serve.
And I was surprised and happy when I received this kind of message “…to fully serve Maria.”
(I loved that he used the word Serve. That’s a word we often use in the lifecoaching world. And to see a sports coach doing so, amplify my admiration.)
He is in service.
That’s what he is doing. With the people he coaches and with the people he meets.
The more you serve the better you got at service (in life and in tennis). And apparently the more your serve the more you have in return (true in life not in tennis :))
Who can I serve today ?
PROTECT YOUR PLAYER
I never mentioned Maria Sharapova. I don’t know her. I did not really watch women tennis before. But lots of people seems interested in her. I can understand why. She’s more than a tennis player, she’s an icon… So if the topic came in, he always put a stop or made it clear that he does not speak about Maria (like the 1st rule of the Fight Club). I love that.
What are my agreements with my clients or with myself ? Am I impeccable with my words ?
BEHIND THE SCENE
With his team, hat on the head, you can’t even see who’s who. They are like the Men in Black (but in tracksuit).
Some people are made for the limelight other thrive behind the scenes.
Where do I stand ? How can I step back to see the whole picture ? How can I help my client/player shine even more ?
ALWAYS BE LEARNING
I thought tennis coaches were dumbs. I mean most of them seems to be – Most tennis coaches are coaches because they don’t know what else to do with their life. They are often just good tennis players.
Not the best though. Because to be the best you have to learn. A lot. Willing to put time to train yourself in psychology, neurosciences, NLP, anatomy, posture, emotions, coaching…
I remember he was reading The Power of Habit at the time. Me too émoticône smile
Even (especially) if you are at a top position : keep learning. What am I learning at the moment ? Where should I put my focus to be the best in my field ?
OPEN YOUR MIND – TRY NEW STUFF
I’m a « nobody » in the professional tennis world. Maybe one day people will know me. In the amateur tennis world, people know me. I have a successful educational website. But still… I have no connection with the professional world.
But Sven took the risk to spend time with me. I was a new stuff. He opened his mind to a guy like me. I was thrilled.
And I could see how open minded he was. He showed me different weird educational tools like the Sweat Area Racket by Toalson. He installed the PlaySight courts. He is good with apps.
What new I’m going to try today ? Who can I connect with and who has a different approach ?
SAY WHAT YOU WANT – BE DIRECT (AND GENTLE)
I felt bad in my room asking for a ticket for the semi-finals. I asked him how could I support him he told me : Shutting down my phone. Of course émoticône smile But it was gentle.
Sometimes I’m afraid to say what I want directly. But people respect that.
What do I want ? I’ll use the verb want more. Instead of ‘it would be nice if…’ émoticône smile Tell what you want. People will understand and respect that. In my coaching practice I noticed that successful entrepreneurs use more “I want” than the others (who use more “It would be nice if…”)
WORK WITH THE BEST (YOU CAN START YOUNG) – WHO IS WILLING TO PLAY AT THE LEVEL YOU WANT TO PLAY ?
He always worked with the best and players who were willing to be (Most of them were or became #1 and #2 in the world). It’s great.
I don’t know how he does it. But that inspire me to choose my clients carefully, to know with who I want to work.
He started with the best ! He started with Monica Seles (#1 in the world). Even if you’re young you can serve the best.
Who is the best ? Or who is willing to be the best in his industry ? And how can I serve him ? With who do I want to work, for real ? Are my clients/players playing at the level I want to play ?
He seems to be involved in different kind of business, associations, foundations around sport. He’s not doing coaching only.
That’s important. I have the tendency to focus on coaching. And more and more I’m thinking about building or investing my time, energy and money in other kind of business.
To be a good coach, you have to open your mind. Diversify. You’re whole life experience will help you be a better coach.
What can I do to support my passion ? My mission ? Where else I can be in service ? How can I help my industry grow faster ?
He is great to connect people. Actually one of his activity is OrangeCoach – a website who connects Tennis Coaches with Tennis Club and Tennis Institutions. That’s service. Again.
He put me in contact with his Academy. With people, with new apps, etc…
MAIN TAKEAWAYS :
– Serve Serve Serve – Be in service. Help people, your clients, the people you meet, your family…
– Open Your Mind – Look out for a new way of growing
– Work with the best (or people who are willing to play at the level you want to play)
– Know you agreements and be direct
– And be cool (because he is cool). He has both side : that focus/serious/direct attitude and that good laugh and easy-going attitude. Because life is fun after all.
I hope I’ll see him again. I don’t know. He travels 48 weeks in a year. That’s what you do when you’re a pro tennis coach. It’s a lifestyle. I travel too. So we have to be at the same spot at the same time. it’s great to be in contact with the top of their field. You learn a lot. Faster. You see how they act.
You see the distinctions between a coach and a world-class coach.
You implement, you gain confidence in your coaching…
So the other lesson for me is to be so good they can’t ignore you. People will notice you. People will see your work. Keep working. Just from a video I posted I could get those experiences.
I’ll keep working and learning. Because I’m playing at the highest level.