An interview with Martyn Bailey, our Head Tennis Coach

Tennis balls

We’re excited to introduce you to our Head Tennis Coach, Martyn Bailey. Martyn is a level 4 LTA Senior Performance Coach with over 10 years coaching experience following a semi-professional playing career. Martyn is also a fully qualified Sports Performance Psychologist who has experience working with sports people from many different sports, including Tennis, Rugby, Golf Cycling and Table Tennis.

What age did you start to play tennis?

13! I was actually quite late starting to play. I used to knock a ball against a wall in the garden for hours at home and then one day I decided to see what my local club was like and I joined and went on from there!

Do you remember your first tennis tournament?

Yes it was a local club event for under 18s. I was very nervous as I’d never done anything like that before. I really enjoyed it though and carried on!

What was your highest ranking as a semi-professional?

I was in the top 30 British players and travelled all-over with it – I really loved it.

How did you get into coaching tennis?

I think it’s a natural progression for lots of players. When I was about 17 I got into coaching as it’s a great way to earn money doing something you love. My mates were all working at McDonalds and places like that so it was quite cool to be a coach at that age! I love helping people to be better players.

What are your goals as a professional tennis coach?

I want to be recognised within the tennis world as a great coach that produces great players! But it’s not just about working with players at a semi-professional level. I want to develop a programme that players of any age or ability can enjoy and really benefit from. It’s really important to offer variety as people play for so many reasons – whether they want to play professionally, for sport or socially. So you need to create a programme that has some technical sessions, some tactical and some social and fun! I’d also really love to help a professional player to reach their potential and enjoy a great career.

What is your main ambition for West Bay’s tennis programme?

West Bay has great potential. For the Performance programme I really want to develop a first class local programme so that youngsters don’t have to travel over to Portsmouth or further afield to progress their career. At West Bay we can nurture that potential and really bring them on. For the Club Tennis programme we have a great membership and I really want to create a programme they can really engage with and which helps them to improve their game and be their best whatever their reasons for playing are.

What are the main fitness benefits of tennis?

Tennis is a great cardio workout – it’s actually anaerobic. It has a similar effect to interval training which is very popular right now in that you stop and start continually so you build your fitness and strength very quickly. For kids it’s really good for helping them to develop their co-ordination skills, balance and agility as well as being good fun and helping their confidence.

You’re also a Sports Performance Psychologist and member of the British Psychological Society – how can our members benefit from that?

In all sports, at any level you can encounter the same common problems such as stress and anxiety – whether it’s golf, tennis or football. You want to be your best, you don’t want to let down your team or yourself. You may not even know consciously that you have an issue, it might just be that you can’t consistently get your serve right or you always miss the football goal. Sometimes emotions are there in the background and can really get in your way and inhibit your results. So with Sports Performance Psychology you get to the root of the problem – maybe someone is nervous about being watched because they have a fear of failure – so you restructure their thought process, you rationalise them and put them into perspective. It’s relevant at any level of any game – if there’s something holding you back from improving and getting to the next level, it can really help.

What other services are you bringing to West Bay

I can offer racquet stringing and re-gripping including a next day service and can order specific string if requested

Henman or Murray?

Oh that’s tough because I know Henman – he’s a great guy. But I’d have to say Murray just because he’s everything you’d want to be in a sportsman. He can handle a huge amount of pressure and those crowds at Wimbledon! He’s done so well though, he’s a truly great tennis player.