My Way or The Highway

My Way or The Highway?

There are three basic styles of teaching: 1. my way or the highway, 2. your way, 3. together.

‘My way or the highway’.

We have all come in contact with a coach who teaches this way. Some years ago I had a famous tennis player come teach on my staff. I will never forget the first time we shook hands. Her hand engulfed mine and the strength of her handshake, even at age 58, was formidable.  She was former Wimbledon champion, Althea Gibson. Althea had won Wimbledon in 1956. She became the first the first person of color to win a Grand Slam title. Living in East Orange and having fallen on bad times financially, Althea came to West Orange Tennis Club looking to teach some junior players-perhaps looking for the prodigy. However, her teaching style proved to be too strict and unyielding. She moved on to other endeavors after a short time teaching, as it did not produce the results she was looking for.

Your Way

This type of teaching allows the student to guide the teacher in their lesson plans. I won’t spend much time on this style of teaching.  I have not encountered it directly in my coaching experience, either as a player, or in contracting teaching professionals to teach for me. However,I have observed this style of teaching in other venues, i.e. high school team coaching, parks and recreation tennis lessons, etc. In this type of teaching the teacher lets the student guide the lesson by asking the player what they want to work on, then looks for positive reactions from the player in their endeavor to improve. When the student gets discouraged and wants to change the lesson plan or drill, the pro follows theirs requests.


The professional and the student work together in this positive blend of achievement. The professional is astute in combining his own playing and teaching experience with the personality and skills of his student. Together, they talk and work at achieving goals in performance. It takes skill and confidence to teach ‘together’. It is also immensely satisfying. Trust is an outcome of this type of teaching. Discipline, hard work, respect for each other – all this and more can develop out of this type of teaching relationship.

In reviewing your teachers, or your teaching experiences, which of these would you fit them, or yourself into?

About wdkealy

I retired from a career as a tennis professional to move to Portland with my wife to care for my in-laws and my mother in Abbotsford, BC. Not wanting to retire I took a vocational test and at the top was 'writer'. I have been researching and writing for about five years now and am looking to take more steps forward in pursuing this as a career. Time will tell whether I have the 'passion' to stay the course. My wife and I have three grown children with whom we are close. I had the privilege of coaching a high school team to a state championship in 2010. The team won by 1/2 point which was a credit to all team players. Looking to attend another writer's conference this year and grow. In the meantime I look forward to improving my social networking skills in order to have more meaningful contact with others who share a passion for life.
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