The Team Approach

Sean Drake, RacquetFit Vice President

Have you ever had a situation where your player is not performing to the level you think they should? What about a player battling an injury that limits their time on court? Do you ever have trouble finding the proper person to refer them to?

These are just a few of the questions I continue to get from teaching professionals all over the world:

1. Why isn’t my player performing like I expect them to? My player is injured. What should I do?

2. Who is best to work with my athlete in fitness or medical?

3. Picking the best experts for medical and fitness in tennis to work with your player can be a tough task. Understanding how the body moves while playing tennis is critical in order to ensure your player continues improving.

Having been involved in tennis now for a few years from the coaching, medical and fitness sides, I see a major gap on collaboration between the three professions. At RacquetFit, we call this a Team Approach, which involves common language and a specific system for understanding of tennis skills that are required for the athlete.

When I ask tennis professionals around the country if they have anyone on speed dial for fitness and medical, not a lot of hands go up.

With the release of the latest figures on the amount of people playing tennis, we need to do our part to keep tennis fun, engaging and healthy. 

Most coaches are great at teaching tennis and understand the importance of mental resilience in tennis, as shown by the slight growth in overall tennis participation. But many coaches do not have a system to evaluate the athlete’s kinesthetic movement while playing. The body is overlooked.

This is where screening your athlete is so important. Imagine looking at your athlete’s simple, tennis-specific motions and knowing within minutes whether or not the problem the athlete is experiencing can be solved through coaching, fitness or medical attention.

It is a common misconception that medical inattention is the reason an athlete gets injured. On the contrary, medical professionals are there to keep your athlete healthy and enjoying their time on the court playing the sport we love. Athletic trainers are experts in providing specialized corrective exercises or tennis-specific programming. These are important experts to collaborate with because they will improve your knowledge and you will impress your athlete with the experts they need to reach their goals on the court.

So where do you start? First, network with fitness and medical professionals in your area. Host an evening lecture or lesson where you review your coaching style and philosophy for your club or community, and invite fitness and medical professionals, as well as fellow tennis professionals, to sit in.

“My success as a fitness coach and, more importantly, the success of my athletes, is dependent on the relationship and communication with the tennis coach and medical team,” Dean Hollingworth said. “All three components must work together in order to provide athletes with the most efficient and safe path to achieving their goals.”

The best players have a team that includes a coach and a medical and fitness professional. Why should we treat our players any differently? The USPTA has stepped up to work toward this for the tennis player of today and the future. By bringing the Team Approach to the game, we solidify awareness around the sport and, more importantly, we create opportunities for more professionals and players to get involved in tennis.

To learn more about how RacquetFit can teach you the language and skills needed to work more deeply with tennis athletes, visit
Sean Drake (left) with Michael Harper Jr. (right) at the Merchandise & Trade Show at the 2019 World Conference.