Three Lessons from Three Years of Tennis Coaching

May 2017 was pretty special. Not only has it been three years since God laid in our hearts to start tennis coaching, but it was also the month when we held our twelfth batch of campers. This batch was also the third summer tennis camp we had since 2015, the first batch to have participating kids, and the first batch to have experienced the lessons we learnt from the ITF Coaching program we had in Bangkok earlier this year.

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FIRST YEAR: TENNIS COACHING IS ONE OF GOD’S MANY PLATFORMS

During our first year as tennis coaches, our goals only revolved around making sure our students will take-home something valuable and fun about tennis even in just a short amount of training time. By God’s grace, students kept enrolling and requesting for another camp schedule. We were getting a lot of positive feedbacks. We even had clients requesting for private coaching sessions. So even though we are not doing coaching full-time, by God’s grace, we were able to execute one camp after another without our eight-to-five jobs and ministry responsibilities being compromised.

Our first year as tennis coaches was memorable because it allowed us to start building relationships with other people from on to off the court. While some merely perceive tennis coaching as a money-making job, God helped us perceive it as one of His many platforms for us to pursue His purpose in our lives – to love Him, love others (Matthew 22:36-40) and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20).

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SECOND YEAR: APART FROM OUR COACH IN HEAVEN, WE CAN DO NOTHING

During our second year however, Martin and I experienced some challenges in terms of managing the camp. We figured that the venue where we were holding our camps was not practical for both the students and us. It was too far for students residing up north. And the process of how the courts in the venue are being reserved was also stressful for us as coaches.

We were having a hard time looking for a new venue. We experienced rejections from some sports venue administrators around the metro. There was also a time when our eyes were more focused on finding a new venue and creating promos and programs rather than asking God to provide for us. Our thoughts were distracted by what we should have rather than why we are doing what we are doing.

God reminded us to trust Him because He will provide a venue for us in His own time and according to His will. During the time when we were figuring out solutions on our own (which was exhausting and unproductive at the same time), He reminded us that apart from Him, we can do nothing.

By His grace, in the mid of 2016, someone ‘coincidentally’ asked us if we are interested in conducting our camps in a tennis centre in Ortigas – a location that is relatively in the middle of Metro Manila.

Our second year as tennis coaches challenged us to rely on God more even in our desire for improvement. We stopped manoeuvring the camp with promos and programs and we started asking God for His mighty hand to bless it instead. We then became more open in sharing what our camp is about.

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THIRD YEAR: TENNIS COACHING IS AN OPPORTUNITY NOT MERELY AN OBLIGATION

In our transition period lasting probably until the end of 2016, we experienced having a hard time achieving student expectations consistently. We lost some of our clients. And we know this because we ask for feedback and we observe how they respond to instructions on-court. We take everything they say and consider the responses we observe as something that can help us improve as tennis coaches.

Martin and I brainstormed on how we can improve the way we manage the camp and the way we try to achieve student expectations. Some ideas worked but majority did not. We could not do it 100% because again we are not doing coaching full-time.

Around November 2016, even after joining a local tennis coaching seminar, we were contemplating on whether or not we should still pursue tennis coaching. We felt like we still want to do our best to continue, but we were getting discouraged about the way we were performing as coaches.

In the midst of doubting our God-given competence in terms of coaching, and feeling frustrated because we could not please all our clients, God reminded us of our purpose; our camp’s vision and mission:

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”  – 1 Peter 4:10-11

It is dreading to try to meet everyone’s needs and expectations. Jesus even identified a similar people-pleasing tendency in His disciples. They were torn between obligations to others and obedience to Him. They wanted to follow Jesus but on their terms, and Jesus challenged this kind of thinking. Jesus called them back to Himself with the unspoken question: Who are you going to please first?

God does not expect us to try to meet all our clients’ needs and expectations, but He tells us to please Him in the way we serve them so that in all things, God may be glorified. This helped us clear our motives and directions in the field of tennis coaching.

God constantly prompts us that we are not coaches who happened to be followers of Jesus; we are followers of Jesus who happened to be tennis coaches. Therefore, we hope to continue learning His ways on and off the court.

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