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People profile: Judy Murray

Coach Consultant, David Lloyd Leisure

Published in Sports Management Jul Aug 2017 issue 132
Judy Murray is working with 
David Lloyd Clubs for three years, sharing her coaching knowledge
Judy Murray is working with David Lloyd Clubs for three years, sharing her coaching knowledge

Tell us about your new role as a coach consultant for David Lloyd Clubs?
David Lloyd Clubs have about 650 indoor courts and 450 coaches across the country, so we have a captive audience of coaches. If we can help them to deliver lessons more effectively by sharing our ideas and philosophies with them, we’ll create a greater number of better coaches, which creates a greater number of better players for Great Britain.

Why is it important to get kids into tennis at a young age?
It’s important to get them active and into any physical activity that helps them to develop their motor and coordination skills. Tennis is quite a complex coordination sport, so if you don’t develop those skills at a young age, it’s quite a difficult sport to become good at.

We’re big believers in the family experience, and we want to show parents how they can help the kids to develop those skills by doing five or 10 minutes a day of fun things around the house. We find nowadays that the things that are trendy for kids to play often involve sitting down in front of a screen, so the only thing that’s really active is their thumbs.

Will the classes involve the parents?
We’re trying to encourage coaches to adopt parent and child sessions as part of their programme. The kids love playing with their parents, and if a child enjoys a sport – especially a sport like tennis where you need someone to play with – the first port of call is always going to be the parents. The better we can help the parents understand what tennis is going to demand of their children, the more they’re able to help them develop those skills.

What are your most important coaching tips?
It has to be fun. And you have to understand what tennis is going to demand of the player. It’s about creating the games and the exercises that will do the teaching for you, so you’re not making loads of verbal, technical instructions. Then kids and adults will learn without even realising it.

The other part of my philosophy is to start with the simplest thing, and then add a little challenge to it. By adding progressions gradually, you will more quickly get to your target. We start by teaching them how to hold a racquet and go from there.

What’s different about this style?
I think a lot of tennis coaching in this country has become very prescriptive, and almost too technical. For me, the fun of tennis is playing the game.

It’s a bit like learning the piano – if you just learn how to hit the notes, it won’t mean anything. The fun of it is learning how to put it all together to create a tune. So for me, it’s not about standing with a bucket of balls and feeding the same ball again and again, because tennis will never demand that of you. It’s actually about creating situations where you can learn how to play the game.

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