TENNIS – Mike James (GPTCA International Coach) and Jonny Fraser (iTPA Master Tennis Performance Specialist) spent time with ATP representative and tour coach Claudio Pistolesi during a recent visit to the United States. Jonny Fraser and Mike James

It was a privilege for performance tennis coach Mike James (GPTCA International Coach) and strength and conditioning coach Jonny Fraser (iTPA Master Tennis Performance Specialist) to spend time with ATP representative and tour coach Claudio Pistolesi during a recent visit to the United States. Claudio is currently based at North Florida University where he intends to develop his own academy in the near future.

When assisting in the coaching of a group of young promising Italian junior players looking to combine both education and competing in the US college system, it was evident to see three key beliefs Claudio felt were important both on and off court. The first of these included showing respect to yourself, other people and the surroundings in which you are in. It was evident a holistic approach was highly endorsed both in an educational and tennis sense, all important aspects of developing respect. He had great admiration for the range of disciplines within sport science. These included sport psychology, strength and conditioning and performance nutrition something he emphasised to all his players to engage in to help develop themselves as tennis players and human beings. It was obvious to see how he has achieved so much at the highest level with his passion, empathy and care he offers to his players. This was shown by including a range of visits to US Colleges, where some of the junior players he was working with may look to attend in the near future. There was great emphasis on respecting the environment you play in and this was moulded by Claudio’s own experiences reinforcing the importance when travelling. This included to educate yourself by visiting museums and sights of the location where you are competing resulting in continued learning, embracing the travelling culture tennis possesses and making you feel more comfortable in the environment you are playing in.

The second belief was being player centred, allowing players to give their own feedback on regular occasions and to give more responsibility for their learning. It was also obvious that Claudio had a great understanding of players development and how this can vary across ages. An individualised coaching approach was led, appreciating the differences in learning styles, physiology and biomechanics of the players. Due to this approach giving players freedom to express themselves, play with no fear and to drive their own tennis this ultimately refers to his third belief which is a positive attitude and work ethic. As coaches we both experienced this respect and work ethic by taking both tennis coaching and strength and conditioning sessions. Each player showed great respect by listening to advice, providing their own feedback alongside working at a high intensity on court, despite only knowing us for less than a day.

Spending three days within Claudio’s company and the players he worked with it was obvious that his philosophy to produce skilled, adaptable, respectful and well educated tennis players results in developing the exact similar qualities as a human being. It was also evident that he viewed development as a tennis player is a process which takes time rather than looking for the next young superstar. This is something both as coaches we believe in and it was a pleasure learning and sharing idea with a great tennis coach and a caring and passionate individual.