A Tennis master-class with GB’s Davis Cup captain
I have just finished a two day workshop with world renowned coach and GB Davis Cup captain Louis Cayer. The workshop theme was how to develop technical and tactical skills for high performance players. It’s only when you are in the presents of someone like Louis that you realise how much more there is to learn about this game and how the process of self- improvement never stops.
Louis has been working with the Aegon GB Davis Cup and GB Fed Cup teams as well as the LTA Coach Development department since 2007. He is a tutor on the Master Performance Coach Qualification and an LTA consultant for high performance clubs/academies. Prior to joining the LTA, Louis previously coached and captained the Canadian Davis Cup team for 12 years in addition to developing the Coach Education Programme for Tennis Canada. Louis has also worked with 10 top 100 singles players; however he is internationally renowned for his expertise in doubles, having worked with 6 number 1 players and 24 top 50 ATP. In 2016 Louis helped Jamie Murray achieve the world number 1 doubles ranking and continues to push the boundaries in British tennis.
The first day of the workshop covered how to develop technique using a holistic approach incorporating Rhythm and Momentum as well as incorporating footwork patterns. The methodology is one of a integrated approach to technique where Timing, Rhythm, Momentum and Footwork are all taught as a ‘package’ to help players improve and achieve their full potential. In the warm up phase we worked on the 30-50-70 which relates to the percentage of how players should build up the speed of their strokes in a progressive way so as to maintain the best technique and ball control. Louis’s delivery of the course content was extremely inspiring as he showed practical examples of the teaching points and then each of us were sent off to experience each activity for ourselves, either having the role as a coach where we would give feedback to the player or being the player ourselves trying to execute the teaching points we had just been shown. This format worked really well as it allowed us as coaches to experience each technical teaching point from a coach and player’s perspective.
Day 2 of the workshop focused on the return of serve and the different types of return you could encounter. Louis referred to Andy Murray during this element of the training and talked about how Andy has one of the best returns in the world because he is able to hold the racket and almost wait for the ball to come onto his racket before he moves forward to execute his return. The serve was a major topic on day 2 and this incorporated how to disguise the serve using the wrist and forearm to manipulate the racket angle at the last moment. Louis taught the importance of having a range of skills to draw from so that when the situation arises in match-play players can be confident to come up with the right shot at the right time. We looked at using the hand when under pressure, using body speed to increase power and control, how to read where the opponent is going to hit their approach shots based on the direction and trajectory of the ball they receive.
Some of this cutting edge performance knowledge has been incorporated into the Tennis Tots programme and broken down into bite size chunks for our Tots to develop from a young age.
All in all it was a fantastic opportunity to get on court with one of the leading performance coaches in the world and I very much look forward to the next opportunity I have to work with Louis Cayer.