Tennis has been my life since I was 4 years old. I wanted to be a professional tennis player but my parents wanted me to study, because they felt that it was a much less risky option.
After I’d laid down my dreams of being a pro player, I decided to dedicate my life to helping young players achieve their dreams in tennis. So I created Mouratoglou Academy in 1996 and started to work as a coach.
I love how each player brings totally different challenges to coaching. If the goal is always to make them better at winning matches, we have to find a different path to get there every time.
I also particularly enjoy the trust that develops between player and coach and the impact the coach can have on the player’s results.
Either we win as a pair or we lose as a pair. That’s the beauty of this job.
Being a great coach means having a lot of different qualities. But most important of all is passion. Coaching is such a demanding job that the coach has to be passionate. So they can keep the faith, fight for what they want to achieve and inspire this extra motivation and belief in my player.
There’s no single recipe for coaching. Each player has a different game, different needs, a different way to communicate. As a coach, my mission is to analyse and then give the right direction, in order for my player to move to the next level. The coach has to lead and the only way to do it right is to be that person who shows the way to success.
I believe that each player needs a unique kind of coaching style. My goal is to be as close as possible to that person and that’s the reason I adapt my behaviour to suit my player’s psychology.
Great coaching is all about making steady progress. If the day has been planned the right way, with the goals set up, with all the exercises organised and if my player has the right mindset, we have to make real improvements every day.
A good day’s training is a day where you can see a real step forward. As a coach, that is my goal on a daily basis.
My proudest moments are when I feel I’ve had an impact on my player’s results. That is my goal and the reason why I believe players hire me. They want to get better, win more, improve. I want their collaboration with me to be the most successful one they have ever had.
Early in my career, I was particularly influenced by Bob Brett, the Australian coach who used to work with Becker and Ivanisevic. I have known and worked with him for 6 years. He helped me understand the importance of techniques and tactics.
I’ve also read Anthony Robbins’ books and they have been very helpful for working on mentality with my players. Finally, I have been very influenced by Jose Mourinho due to his impact on the football world and his way of coaching which was way different from anybody before him.
My players have taught me that everything is possible and that I always have to believe that they will win, that they will succeed. I am blessed to have had the chance to work with a lot of fantastic players and one legend. They have positively surprised me so many times.
At the beginning of my career, my approach was more based on logic. Over the years, I have understood that reality can be changed by belief. When I saw Serena win Roland Garros in 2015 with 40 degrees fever the whole second week, I understood how important it was for her to believe that she could make it.
The mental aspect of the game is paramount as it makes the difference between a very good tennis player and a champion. This can take many forms, from generally helping players to embrace physical endurance and discipline, to more specific things like playing under pressure, improving focus and playing the big points well.
This sport is very difficult mentally because players on the way to the top 100 in the world have to go through a lot of ups and downs. The toughest ones survive, but in order to make it they need a supportive environment around them. Successful players also have a very clear development plan that helps them stay focused and trust the process when times get tough.
A coach and player relationship is based on motivation. Sometimes though, the player shows fear (of failure for example) and their behaviour reflects this. As coaches, we have to understand that by helping to overcome stress, the player’s real motivation will start to show again.
I have coached many players through a difficult situation. Even Serena was at a low point in her career when we started to work together. What’s interesting is that when things go wrong, players make these two classic mistakes. Either they panic and go for the quick fix instead of taking time to analyse what’s wrong. Or they can abandon a strategy if it doesn’t work straight away.
What I always do is stay calm, listen, look and take the time to understand and analyse. As soon as I feel I have enough information, I come up with a plan.
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