Over the years, ITL (as a league and personally) have had meetings, sessions and camps with quite a few coaches in India and abroad. Some of them have trained either ATP/WTA Professionals or top ITF ranked juniors.
One such coach is Mr. Robi Cokan from Slovenia, who has trained Kaja Juvan. At the time of writing Kaja (18 years, WTA No. 123) is due to play in the Wimbledon Women’s Singles Main Draw, having qualified. She has 7 ITF Pro titles, 2018 Youth Olympics Singles and Doubles Gold, 2017 Wimbledon Junior Doubles Champion, European Champion 2017, Orange Bowl 2016 etc…
Training With Freedom
In our first hand experience with Robi, as he’s also trained my son over the years, the biggest difference I can relate is the freedom he provides.
Players are encouraged to explore their game, while he actively teaches proper concepts to them in fun and goal based drills. Each time focusing on a particular element. Be it technique correction, precision, improving skill level or adding more power, the drills always has the freedom for the player to try something new. This enables them to feel more confident with their strokes.
As a general observation, from our time in Europe, the basics of concept and technique are taught to the player and inculcated by the time they are 11 – 12. After which they start working on making the game and body more efficient, stronger and faster. Improvements are always ongoing and a general part of daily game play.
We experienced that first hand with Robi in deep detail, during our camp in 2017. The juniors who had travelled with us had a 180° turn in their concept of training.
A big part of Robi’s philosophy is to instill positivity in the athlete. In a particular incident, a player he was training, missed one ball out of 10 and ended up criticizing themselves over it.
Robi asked, “Why are you so angry over the 1 ball you miss but not happy on the 9 balls you got right?“
Building a positive outlook takes time and effort along with eliminating negativity, no matter how small it can be. The coach plays a huge role in this process, always providing feedback with the aim to improve and not to degrade efforts.
Developing players to be champions is a subtle balance of helping them realize their triumphs and make their mistakes seem as learning tools rather than a ‘Arree, what man?‘, as our dialect would like to phrase it here.
Robi showed this side of coaching to us over and over again during our camp, always helping the kids be positive about every little win they had in training. If you miss, it’s OK…let’s just get back into position and try again…and play!
The Habit of Winning
Kaja would get really upset if she lost, dropping her shoulders down; Robi remembered when he had just started training her as he spoke about their earlier days.
Developing a habit takes time…in terms of tennis it takes tournaments. Starting with club, local and national events, with a strict schedule to not cause strain and stress, Robi eventually guided Kaja to her top rank of ITF Junior No.5.
Talking a bit about Europe competition, the culture to compete is built into their psyche. Tournaments are ongoing everywhere and players, and parents, don’t dwell much on the status of a particular event.
Our outlook in India needs to stop looking at the prestige level of a tournament first, rather than the fact that kids get to play and build the habit of competing and trying their best to win.
Ever wonder why most of the Top 250, men and women, come from Europe?
Did you know ITL has a collaboration with Robi to provide you video analysis on your game? Get in touch with us to find out more.Contact Us Today
The success Robi and his players (I’m sure he’s getting more ready in Slovenia) have achieved is due to his commitment to a method. Which is centered around freedom to develop, positive outlook, keeping the sport fun and make it challenging for the player via competition and his secret weapon.
Which is a secret. Sorry, I can’t tell you. 😉
Robi was voted best coach in Slovenia for 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019! (updated) If you would like to visit and train in his academy ITL can help arrange packages for you.