He has coached the likes of Roger Federer, Jim Courier, Pete Sampras and Shahar Peer, but on Thursday José Higueras was in Toronto to share a few of the lessons he’s learnt over his 28-year coaching career with coaches from all over Canada.
The former world No. 6 lent some of his expertise from both his experience coaching and days playing professionally at the 2017 edition of the annual TPA National Coaching Conference. The event was hosted in the Centre of Excellence at Aviva Centre and for a second straight year, a record number of coaches were in attendance. A total of 247 TPA members took part in the event.
Despite the large turnout, coaches were still able to openly interact and engage with Higueras during his presentations. Many of those in attendance took advantage of the opportunity to ask questions, share their own experience, or add feedback.
“One of my fears sometimes is that there is not enough [crowd] interaction because that’s what I’m looking for,” said Higueras. “I could just come and speak for five hours but it is really interesting to hear what the coaches think. I thought it was good, the crowd was very inquisitive, and it was fun.”
“A lot of what I have learned has been from my experience, as a player and from coaching, but a lot of the other things I’ve learned come from teaching, from pros at clubs, people who work with kids. I am not going to be going home empty handed.”
One of the main focuses at this year’s conference was developing high-performance players. Several on-court sessions took part over the course of the day, and it all kicked off with a presentation on essential keys for the high-performance coach led by Higueras. The first session was followed by best practices for creating a high-performance training environment.
With two young players on court as part of the demonstration, Higueras also addressed the challenges many coaches face when trying to improve their players both technically and tactically, and offered up some tips with the help of two young athletes to demonstrate.
During the lunch hour, the winners of the 2016 TPA Excellence Awards were announced, as several coaches and facilities received recognition for their dedication to developing the sport. Winners were presented with their awards on stage, and many shared stories of their incredible work throughout their coaching career.
The day wrapped up with a final on-court training session, which saw Higueras break down the fundamentals of footwork and provide a range of drills and exercises for coaches to try with their players.
In previous years, the TPA has welcomed speakers such as Judy Murray, Paul Annacone, and Brad Gilbert. The yearly event brings together coaches from across the country. With 3,300 members, the TPA is devoted to growing the profession of tennis coaching in Canada and providing resources for coaches to improve their skills.
For more information about the TPA, please visit tpacanada.com.