Communications tips - For coaches

  • Demonstration is a powerful tool for teaching deaf people. 
  • Demonstration alone is often not sufficient.  Pupils need to know what the objective of an exercise or drill is, and to be educated in strategies and tactics, informed of the rules for drills & games, etc - so communication is still important.
  • Explain, then demonstrate - i.e. don't explain while you demonstrate.  It is almost impossible to watch a demonstration while trying to lipread at the same time.  This tip also applies when an interpreter is being used.
  • Address communications issues outside of coaching session, especially if deaf pupils are mixed with hearing pupils, so that the coaching session itself runs smoothly and is fully productive for all participants.
  • During drills and exercises as well as providing verbal encouragement and feedback such as calling out “good shot” etc, use visual encouragement such as giving a “thumbs up”. 
  • Don't call out instructions mid-way through drills and exercises while players vision is focussed on the ball.
  • Get feedback from all participants (both deaf and hearing) pupils about whether they are having a satisfactory coaching experience. 
  • Written material and methods, e.g. lesson plans, whiteboards for explaining drills etc, can be effective tools for communication.  For some pupils, reading materials such as books and website, read by both player and coach, offer a fantastic way of covering particular topics & establishing a common ground.
  • Encourage deaf people to get involved with club life at their local tennis club, and also with organisations such as Deaf Tennis Australia
  • Often deaf tennis players find it hard to engage socially with groups of hearing people, i.e. your typical tennis club or coaching group, and this can make it difficult to find suitable hitting partners.  As a coach this is something you can help with.
  • If the quality of the coach-pupil interaction still seems to be lacking, possible further strategies include:
    • Smaller group sizes or more individualised attention
    • Utilise a communications assistant / interpreters (especially for deaf people who sign) / buddy system
    • Undertake deaf awareness training, and possibly learning the basics of sign language, with some tennis-specific signs
    • Contact Deaf Tennis Australia for further ideas & access to further support.  We have a very cooperative relationship with Tennis Australia (and state tennis associations) and Deaf Sports Australia (and state sports associations) and may be able to help you access further support and resources. 


Communications tips from various perspectives: