By Lisa Duncan, GAMMA Teaching Pro and PTR/PPR Certified Professional
During my travels as a USTA Master Trainer for Recreation Coaches and also a GAMMA clinician, I would at times meet a person whose enthusiasm for life was infectious. I noticed that other workshop participants would lean in and be just a little more attentive when that person asked a question or made an observation. Attendees would try and position themselves to be the enthusiast’s partner in the various learning situations. An ability to connect with others through awareness and interest, as well as being fully present, were just several of the characteristics possessed by these charismatic individuals.
What all of these evolved souls had in common was a curiosity and love for learning, which was reflected in their passion for growth. In February I had the opportunity to attend the PTR/PPR International Symposium. In meeting and reconnecting with conference attendees from all over the world I realized that the atmospheric “buzz” was because the venue was overflowing with avid, life-long learners. There was an energy and excitement that exuded from the participants to learn the most current information and techniques to better hone their skills to teach tennis and/or pickleball so as to better serve their students and communities. In between sessions one could observe small groups of people as they discussed best practices as demonstrated by teachers from Taiwan, Africa, Canada, Australia, Japan, Great Britain, Italy and the United States.
I marveled in the many traditions of each specific culture. While diverse in nature I discovered universal values that united us all. There was a profound moment of inspiration while conducting the coach’s roundtable in which high school, college and league coaches gathered to discuss the most pressing issues of their trade. In one of the learning segments we brainstormed ideas on the four qualities that great coaches share. Such ideas as being an exceptional communicator, knowing one’s craft, being a student of the game and having excellent organizational skills were all shared. One young man from Taiwan sat quietly and simply listened and observed. When prompted he looked at each person seated at the table and shared, “All that one needs is love. When you love the people with whom you are guiding you become masterful at communicating, being a student of the game, preparing and organizing practice sessions – all of these skills are founded in love. That is all that one need do.” His simplistic yet masterful approach to coaching continues to inspire me weeks after the symposium concluded and reminds me daily that learning has the power to expand one’s ideas and viewpoints.
Yet another opportunity at the PTR/PPR conference included new initiatives and products that were also showcased, creating a sense of intrigue and discovery. One of my favorites was the introduction of the “Pick Ten” program in which club owners in partnership with tennis directors and teaching professionals offer a ten-week lesson curriculum which is inclusive of both tennis and pickleball. I continue to celebrate that finally a program is being offered to unite the sometimes-waring worlds of pickleball and tennis!
Throughout my week-long PTR/PPR symposium experience I was reminded of the joy that being a curious, life-long learner brings. To explore new ideas, to expand our thought systems, to connect with others from diverse cultures is indeed a marvelous opportunity for personal growth and expansion.
Lisa C. Duncan
GAMMA Consultant /Clinician
PTR/PPR Certified Professional