Friday, April 3, 2009

Dave Ellis on coaching at international events

The Pan American Championships begin tomorrow, and The Racquetball Blog asked former US Team Coach Dave Ellis, who's now in Tempe, Arizona coaching at the US Intercollegiate Championships, about how he approached coaching at international events compared to the usual pro tour events.

He indicated that you "have to work in advance to find out what the players need to know" about where they're going to play. There are "cultural differences," Ellis said, that the coach needs to make the players aware of.

We asked him about bringing players together who generally play against each other week to week. Ellis described his approach as presenting the event as "a real opportunity that's different from other events because racquetball's an individual sport." He presented the tournaments "as something fun that the players could work together on."

"I think that [working together] means a lot," said Ellis. "I felt they bought into that." He was happy with how the players responded even though they may have had past differences.

The US Team Handbook specifies how players are selected to the team, so there's not much coach involvement in that. "It's pretty much laid out," said Ellis, including back ups if someone chooses not to go.

Asked about whether it's difficult to get players to go, Ellis indicated that the Women's Professional Racquetball Organization typically puts international events, such as the Pan Am Championships, into their schedule to avoid conflicts. But the International Racquetball Tour sometimes has conflicts because of commitments they've made to long standing events.

Also the Pan Am Championships is always the week before Easter, so it's not in the same week every year, and that can lead to conflicts.

Follow the bouncing ball....

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