PERTH, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 29: Roger Federer of Switzerland talks with his coach Ivan Ljubicic during a practice session at the Perth Arena on December 29, 2016 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Joel Drucker: Coaching is Not Biography

Why is it when a player’s coach has won a Grand Slam tournament that the biographical impulse kicks in? Surely, thinking goes, Pat Cash will be helping Coco Vandeweghe volley more. Or: Ivan Ljubicic, he of the sculpted one-handed backhand, has aided Roger Federer’s cause with that shot.

On the other hand, when the coach lacks that major accomplishment, the resume is scarcely invoked. Has anyone asked if Darren Cahill is urging Simona Halep to chip and charge more? Who even knows how such accomplished coaches as Roger Rasheed, Dani Vallerdu, Craig Boynton played the game?

What on this front really matters? A multi-Slam champion once told me that she could more effectively teach a forehand volley than a backhand volley even though the backhand was her better shot. Her thinking was that while the backhand was natural, the forehand was the shot she’d actually studied in depth and broken down the most. She also said that it times it was more helpful to have a coach who understand her opponents’ playing styles than how she played.

So the next time a Grand Slam champion joins forces with an active player, let’s refrain from biographical thinking.

Read more articles by Joel Drucker

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