James Corrigan: Why do coaches just sit there and take verbal volleys from furious players?

It's like trying to be an individual in the chorus line of 'Les Miserables'. All that advice about who they should be, so little time to be who they are

Pity the poor tennis coach whose feelings are ranked lower than a piece of carbon fibre weighing considerably less than a bag of sugar. Why is it players receive dire warnings for their "racket abuse", yet their "coach abuse" goes unchallenged and unpunished?

What a strange message to give out to the kids, who may well conclude that their parents are inferior to their frisbee. We can only pray the most impressionable were not watching first when Marion Bartoli demanded her father/coach, Walter, leave Court 12 as she struggled to victory against Flavia Pennetta and then when Novak Djokovic proceeded to bash seven bells out of his Head IG Speed (eliciting a stern rebuke from the umpire) and at least the same number of chimes out of Marian Vajda (eliciting a weak quip from Andrew Castle).

Actually, we don't know if Djokovic's wrath was directed towards Vajda. It's hard to tell exactly who is being bollocked when there's 20 yards separating them, particularly when the bollockee remains as expressionless as a husband being loudly reprimanded by his wife in a packed supermarket. Brad Gilbert was the first to perfect this look during a relationship with Andy Murray which made that of Sid and Nancy seem harmonious.

So, in the essential sunglasses, Brad sat there, poker-faced, thinking to himself: "If I just sit here saying and doing nothing perhaps no one will notice." But we all did and wondered why he didn't scream back: "You're the one who's mishitting the shots, yer big ginger Jessie."

Of course, the salary and the contract inspire submission, but it also has to do with the very public nature of the scenario. The players' boxes are the problem. They're in the same place every time, meaning not only does the player know exactly where to look but so, too, do the spectators. When anyone watches a Murray match they instinctively look for his mum. And it is as difficult to spot Judy Murray on Celtic Court nowadays as it is to spot Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford (shameful FA touchline ban notwithstanding). Meanwhile, the coach could only be more noticeable if there was a big arrow dangling from the roof saying "Djokovic's coach".

Still, at least Vajda has company up there. A top tennis player's entourage rivals Dizzee Rascal's in number. Never mind the coach, there is a fitness coach, a masseuse, a mind coach, a personal doctor, an agent, a media manager, an equipment representative, a clothing representative, two parents, a few uncles, a blonde girlfriend... the list goes on. It reminds of that episode of The Young Ones when Neil returns home after an exam.

"It was terrible," said the hapless hippy. "I sat in the big hall and put my packet of polos on the desk, and my spare pencil and my support gonk and my chewing gum and my extra pen, and my extra polos and my lucky gonk, and my pencil sharpener shaped like a cream cracker and three more gonks with a packet of polos in each, and lead for my retractable pencil and my retractable pencil, and my spare lead for my retractable pencil, and chewing gum and pencils and pens and more gonks and the guy said: 'Stop writing please'."

It's a good job the player doesn't have to introduce his team to the crowd, like say, Elton John does with his backing band. Otherwise Today at Wimbledon would feature live footage.

Due to space constraints the back-room staff have already burst into the front room and the question must be if they're all really necessary. After all, Rod Laver was pretty good and he travelled with one coach who would double up as his practice partner, friend and adviser. But tennis has been transformed into a team sport and if you want to know why there are fewer "individuals" than there used to be, perhaps look no further than their accompanying circus. It's like trying to be an individual in the chorus line of Les Miserables. All that advice about who they should be, so little time to be who they are. Is it any wonder they sometimes rebel when they are flailing alone in the spotlight – à la Djoko – and seek to redistribute the despair?

It's the same in golf. There was a time when the pro's entourage would consist of a) him and b) a drunk caddie. Now there's seemingly one adviser for each hole and a few back-ups just in case of a sudden-death play-off. "I'm amazed we could ever get around golf courses on our own," so England's double major winner Tony Jacklin once told me. "I mean, how did we cope without somebody looking after our muscles, somebody else telling us how great we are and somebody else counting our money?"

Naturally, the last point is key. The successful tennis players and golf pros have become industries and big industries at that. There is far too much invested in them and their achievements to allow them to fend for themselves or, heaven forbid, to do their own thing. So curse away, Novak. Make them suffer while you suffer. You're all in this together. There's no I in team, although there is a "me" in blame.

News
i100
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
PROMOTED VIDEO
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices