5 on 5: Tennis Coach Larry Bach

Bach shares on the challenge of juggling teaching and coaching

Tennis head coach Larry Bach, better known to students and the leader of the fine arts at North Central, started playing competitive tennis seven years ago. Last year, he upped his game and became a professional tennis teacher. Now, along with teaching, conducting, and managing the music department, he is in his second year as the head coach for the men and women’s tennis teams at North Central.
What are some of the goals you have for the tennis teams this year?

“One goal is that everyone feels that the time they spent was worth it, and that they have become better tennis players and had a good experience. Tennis is a game you can play for life; I hope that both teams enjoy it enough to play it for the rest of their lives.”

How has teaching shaped the way you coach?

“Teaching music and teaching tennis are not that different because they are both performance based. At our practices, I feel like I am teaching; I’m giving a lot of instruction, which helps them to learn, and grow and do better. A good class period has a certain rhythm to it, and it is the same with running a tennis practice. You have to keep things moving, you have to adapt to the situation. I give individual instruction and I give group instruction, so it isn’t that different from teaching choir or a class.”

What does coaching mean to you?

“To me, coaching is a form of teaching. It is helping people to do something that they like and helping them to get better at it. There’s also a mentoring aspect. I really enjoy interacting with those students I probably wouldn’t otherwise know at all. It gives me a chance to meet students from different majors. With matches, practices, and traveling, there’s more opportunity for speaking into people’s lives, and getting to know them as people and not just as students or just as tennis players.”

What are some difficulties your teams have to overcome this year?

“The hardest thing is getting everyone to practices with the long winter and with having to have practice at somewhat odd times at night. It is especially challenging to get everyone practicing together for doubles.”

Do you approach coaching the women’s team differently than the men’s team?

“The men’s team is more experienced [this year] than the women’s team. Most of the guys played tennis competitively in high school, whereas most of the women did not. With the guys, I’m coaching more strategy and being more match specific, and for the ladies I’m working more on how to play the game well and how to get better individually.”