Coach For All

August 10th, 2017
Coach For All
Craig Palfrey is aceing his support for accessibility with his recent acceptance into a national wheelchair tennis coaching accreditation program.

The current Birdwood and Mount Pleasant tennis coach has been involved with the game for many years, including playing when he was younger.

“I have played tennis since I was five or six,” Craig said.

“Obviously I’m not playing as much any more given the hours that I spend coaching. My career aspiration wasn’t to be a coach.

“My involvement in coaching started a few years ago while I was studying, when a few parents approached me about helping out with developing their kids’ skills in tennis and it has grown from there.

“Through Tennis SA I became a qualified Level One and then Two, which is the club professional level and now I’ve had lots of experience coaching at varying levels. I’m coaching at Mt Pleasant, Birdwood and Orion Tennis Club and doing some work with Tennis SA,” Craig said.

With extensive involvement in the sport and a diverse range of athletes coached, Craig indicated that it was through his wife that he identified a gap in his knowledge.

“My wife works at Modbury rehabilitation centre with people who have had amputations and I guess my interest in tennis for people with disabilities developed from there,” Craig said.

“I had an interest in wheelchair tennis anyway but I think hearing about some real life experiences in rehabilitation helped gauge that interest.

“I spoke to the Development Officer at Tennis SA to find out a bit more about wheelchair tennis and that was where I heard about the coaching course.”

Craig is one of just three South Australians who will become accredited to coach wheelchair tennis through the national program.

Tennis Australia will accredit 37 coaches across the country as part of the upcoming program and in response to an increase in people with disabilities getting involved with the sport.

“Wheelchair tennis has seen some real success recently with Dylan Alcott and Heath Davidson of the Australian team winning gold medals at the Paralympics,” Craig said.

“But closer to home we are seeing some success too, with Adelaide-based Henry de Cure developing really well in the early stages of his tennis career.

“I think it just opens your eyes to why not try tennis?”

Craig said that he hasn’t worked with para-athletes before but is looking forward to the challenge of learning new skills in coaching.

“I think it will be quite rewarding but there will be some learning curves, too,” Craig said.

“The other day I had a go in one of the sports wheelchairs, just as a way to get an appreciation for the extent of movement available for these athletes.

“There are modified rules for wheelchair tennis so I’m learning more about those as well.”
Craig’s accreditation will occur over the coming weeks.

“The course will be about ten sessions conducted over four separate weekends,” Craig said.

“This course is more like professional development because it is not as lengthy as other coaching qualifications.

“But it will address that skill set around players using wheelchairs on court and also assist with helping athletes with different kinds of disabilities and to find how they fit with the sport.

“Once qualified I hope to use what I have learnt at the clubs I am coaching at currently.

“The courts at Mount Pleasant are accessible for people with a disability so that will be a logical place to begin development of these athletes.”

Tennis SA will assist Craig in promoting the program, with a spokesperson explaining that there are opportunities to connect with organisations to get the word out to potential athletes.

“Tennis SA, with the support of Tennis Australia, have been driving the promotion of wheelchair tennis through online content, social media and local media,” a Tennis SA spokesperson said.

“In South Australia there will be a strong focus on ensuring that we are connecting newly accredited coaches to hospitals, disability organisations, rehab hospitals and other key stakeholders to ensure there is awareness and a pathway for athletes with a disability.

“Tennis SA has partnered with Disability Recreation and Sport SA and Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre to deliver an all-year round wheelchair tennis program since 2010 and will be providing more support to further develop the disability space.”

Tennis SA is supportive of Craig’s involvement in the program.

“Craig has a passion for growing and developing players of all abilities and levels including wheelchair tennis players, which shows that he has the skills to provide engaging environments that foster athlete learning, performance and independence,” a Tennis SA spokesperson said.

For more information or to find out more about wheelchair tennis head to http://www.tennis.com.au/sa

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