Naomi Osaka splitting with her coach is no big deal

AP Photo/Tertius Pickard

Naomi Osaka splitting with her coach is no big deal

In the continuing saga of the coaching carousel, Naomi Osaka has split with Sascha Bajin. This is the coach who was with her during not just her quick rise to number one, but the two Grand Slams that she won on the way. It all seems very strange. Sascha also won 2018 coach of the year for her work with Osaka. So what gives?


John Wertheim has some good thoughts about the reason why tennis players that seem to be on top part ways with coaches. You can check out his thoughts on his latest blog. In sum, Wertheim doesn’t think it’s all that unusual. I don’t either. In tennis, unlike other sports, the player is in charge – at all times. If the player feels as though they have reached the end of the road with a coach, then it’s time for a change. After all, there’s no coach helping players through matches. It’s not like basketball or football, where you got a screaming coach in your face up and down the sidelines for a whole game.


As a tennis player myself, even though recreational, that would be a total nightmare. Tennis is an individual sport, and in all honesty, I don’t think a coach makes as much as an impact as in other sports. After all, in other sports you need a manager/coach to organize a team during a game, a complicated task. In tennis, it’s not like the coach can call plays.


Also, it is not that unusual for tennis pros to be without a coach. Roger Federer did not have a coach for many years during his most successful run in the mid to late 2000s. Turned out pretty well for him. In my view, what top tennis players really need is someone to talk to, who understands the game and can act as a sounding board for ideas and scouting other players. This is why all tennis coaches are former high-level players. They’ve been there before, and they can bring that perspective when a player is feeling the pressure of the tour. In many ways, what tennis players really need is not coaching, but tennis psychologists.


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