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Interview with Joel Myers: from tennis players to professional coaches

Hello, Joel! How did you start your tennis path?

I started playing tennis against a wall when I was about 4. From there I became really interested in the sport and watched any tennis I could on TV. Seeing it on TV really inspired me to practice and then to eventually compete in tournaments.

As far as I know, you were personally trained by many acclaimed coaches including Nick Bollettieri and Pat Cash and should be inspired by the Melbourne Park atmosphere during the Australian Open championships. Right? Who and in what a way influenced you?

When I moved to Melbourne as a junior and started training at Melbourne Park I got to witness professionals first hand. I got to see how hard they trained and interacted with the coaches where I could. I have been very fortunate to have some amazing coaches as a junior. I always tried to take all the advice that was given to me and apply it, if it worked for me I used it, if it didn’t I wouldn’t use it. The most influential coach I ever had was Jamie Parrott in Melbourne. He was a wonderful coach/mentor to me. I wouldn’t have gotten very far without him. His coaching style is what I have tried to model my own after. He was a very cooperative coach and won me over with the way he communicated his thoughts about my game. I think one of the greatest things I learned and have applied to my own coaching is the value of a genuine compliment. Too many coaches will tell you great all the time. Then the student doesn’t appreciate the compliment when they are doing something great.

Why did you stop competing and turn to coaching?

I stopped competing in 2012. It was pretty much a financial decision for me and I’m glad I’m still able to make a career out of something I love. In 2012 I was certified USPTA (United States Tennis Association) Elite Professional and from there I changed my goals to reflect my new role.

Describe the basics of your coaching approach. Do you adapt to the every player’s goals and abilities?

I certainly take into account each player’s strengths and weaknesses, but since I am mostly developing players I tend to look at their development from a long term perspective. My approach is basically to get 1% better every day. Little consistent improvements are how you make big gains in your game. I am a big believer in practicing for matches, so my competitive players do a lot of point specific practice.

Do you coach male and female players? What are the peculiarities?

I coach both males and females. I think the way the game has changed with players getting faster and hitting harder than ever I train both Males and Females very similarly. There was once a big difference in WTA ant ATP technique but now that gap is closing with WTA players technique trending towards ATP style (shorter take backs on groundstrockes ect…)

After a 3-year-long partnership, Novak Djokovic announced that he and Boris Becker have ended their coaching relationship. Any guesses why has it happened? How often do coaches decide to end cooperation with players?

I think Becker and Djokovic’s partnership was obviously very successful. Probably the biggest change has been Novak’s priority shifting from tennis to his new family. I don’t think you can blame him for tennis coming second now. But for him to be back on top of the sport I think he will need a fresh focus on being at his peak for the slams rather than chasing ranking points to stay number 1.

How much time do you spend watching tennis?

I watch all the major tennis events on TV and the Davis Cup. I do spend quite a bit of time watching the game. It keeps me analytical and gives me inspiration to work with my students on new things.

Do you play it a lot? Do you bet on tennis?

I don’t play competitively anymore. Once I committed myself to coaching I’ve taken that role on full time so there’s no time left to play for myself. I don’t bet on tennis currently.

Do you have your own favorites on courts?

My favorite player all time no doubt is Federer. I’ve loved to watch Marat Safin in the past and currently any time Del Potro is on ill make a point to watch his matches.  I’ve always been impressed by power tennis so that’s where those guys are great, but what Federer can do on the court is borderline ridiculous. His run 2004-2007 was practically God mode.

Thank you, Joel. Hope to talk you again!

If you want to learn more about Joel's tennis playing tips, visit his website.

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