Matthieu Bonnafous is a passionate and experienced international tennis coach with more than 20,000 hours of teaching experience.
He has initiated a high number of first timers from all ages and trained several hundreds of beginners into proper tennis players. He has experience preparing players for competition and has formed many national players. His main specialisation is on developing and running a family based program for both leisure and competitive players, children and adults.
Based in Singapore since 2014, he has launched various programmes including weekly group classes, competency exams for kids, intensive holiday camps, friendly tournaments and a tennis initiation at the French School of Singapore.
He holds a professional French Tennis Coach State Degree, which is recognized as the highest tennis certification in the world and has a Master Degree in Earth Sciences.
To learn more about Matthieu’s background, his approach to tennis and about tennis pedagogy in general, read Matthieu’s interview below.
INTERVIEW WITH MATTHIEU
Young beginners, from 4 to 8 years old – I am now able to teach them all the fundamentals quite fast. It is the golden age for learning. They have not yet developed any bad habits. At this age there is no distinction between training and having fun.
Kids entering competition, from 8 to 12 years old – This stage can be quite difficult, especially for the parents, who may have difficulty finding information about the type of competition to register. With our experience and cooperative network we can advise and help the parents to provide the best support for their children.
Adult beginners or first timers – Due to my extensive experience in this area, I am able to help my students enter tennis properly and smoothly in a relaxed and fun manner.
Adult groups – The coach would need to be physically dynamic and know how to organise the space for the players. I am able to add value in this area as I have been consistently working with adult groups for more than 20 years.
No, but I had a good ranking in France, which is equivalent to national top level in Singapore. I have been training and sparring with several top players in France.
Yes, except for exceptional cases. As a coach, you need to be able to communicate well, to be pedagogic, to be patient, considerate, and to understand psychology and biology. To be a good coach, you would also need to have practical experience. This is because you would need to understand all the stages a player is going through and as a coach, you would need to exhibit exercises and to deliver quality balls when rallying with your student. It is very important to be able to play well while at the same time focusing on your student.
With experience, you will understand that the same requirements apply to help both improve. Both competitive players and social players need patience, commitment, lots of support, fun, hard work and mental strength to play well. Both face similar situations on court as well. Basically, leisure and competitive approaches are not to be opposed. They complement each other.
The difference lies mainly in the intensity, details and the quantity of the sessions. With little effort, a beginner will improve a lot, while an advanced player will need more work to achieve little improvements.
We cannot say that one method is better than another. Some approaches are more modern and take into account the human personality. All methods are like different tools and we use a combination of them – repetitions, drills, situations, points play. We always incorporate what we have practised into a real life situation faced in match play.
It lies in the sum of little details. One detail by itself will not change the outcome of a tennis lesson but one coach who cares about his students will pay attention to plenty of details such as: the quality of the balls, the equipment of his students, to start on time, to put his students in the best conditions (like not having the sun in his face), not waste any minute and take the time to answer his questions.
It is a universal sport which can be played almost anywhere, with anyone without distinction of age, gender, ability, social hierarchy and etc. It develops one’s autonomy and responsibility. It is a great way to socialise and network. It enhances one’s self-esteem and can be used as a tool to manage stress. It is a good sport to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It can also help to get your children a university sponsorship and direct school admission.
That would certainly be the notions of “partner” and “opponent”. Regardless of your level, sometimes you cooperate with your partner in a rally and sometimes you challenge each other. These aspects are fundamental.
You don’t need to have any experience, just come and try. You can join a group, take a private session, or play with your kids, your husband and friends. If you don’t have a racquet, we will bring one for you. Contact us and let’s play together.
Your physical condition will probably be your main limitation. Start slowly, resist a bit to the first excitement of being back on the court and don’t overdo in order to prevail from injuries. Be careful with dehydration. Wait a bit before signing-up to official tournaments, train well first, otherwise it can be frustrating. Choose well your equipment, we will help you with that.
Choose the right coach, one who is able to teach the technical basics. You will save a lot of time and money and the difference in the child’s performance in a couple of years’ time can be huge.
You can monitor the overall attitude of your child during matches and share this feedback with your coach. Help your child to develop his/her autonomy and try not to give importance to short term results. You will also need to build a network of parents and tennis friends with the same vision and good sportsmanship.
From 6 years old participate in red size courts friendly events (JTT Mini, friendly tournaments)
From 7 years old participate in similar events on orange size courts
From 8 years old the better players can participate in the JTT League while the best players can also enrol in SPEX tournaments
From 9 years old all can play friendly events, JTT League and SPEX
From 12 years old the best players can participate in competitions overseas
From 14 years old participate in senior competitions with adults (intermediate and open)
Consistency (your job), strong basics (our job).