Emma Doyle unleashes human potential through the ‘E’ factors, energy, empathy, and enjoyment. Emma is an international speaker and coach originally from Melbourne, Australia helping you turn your motivation into activation. She has been coaching for nearly 30 years and through her keynote speaking, mentoring, coaching, and consultancy she inspires, improves, and impacts players, coaches, teams, and corporates within her Global triangle between Melbourne, Australia, Denver, Colorado, and Glasgow, Scotland.
She is a Tennis Australia High-Performance Coach with a strong background as a tennis touring pro, a talent development coach and she has represented Australia as an Australian coach on 20 occasions winning four Asia Oceania world team titles (including 2018 Junior Fed Cup Captain). Emma’s pioneering approach to effective communication strategies and coaching techniques encourages people to take action. She provides practical coaching tools for heightened self-awareness in how to use your language and strengthen your inner voice.
She specializes in helping people to develop a high-performing mindset, enhance confidence, and how to access emotional intelligence for authentic relationships.
Emma is passionately involved in creating gender equity in all sports and the workplace by educating coaches and empowering females; aiming to stretch their comfort zone, build their confidence and discover their inner coach. The best way to describe Emma is to watch her TEDx talk called ‘Unleashing Female Potential’.
Played Division 1 College @ #1 singles and doubles for Middle Tennessee State University (MVP – 1995)
Danced in the Australian Jitterbug Championships - lost in the first round!
Competed in the National U19s Speedball Competition as a Boxercise Instructor
Founded ‘Melbourne Meet’ – a philanthropic idea to help ex-pats meet Melburnians and integrate into the Australian culture which is ongoing today
Hosted a dating program for 12 months called “Doubles for Singles” which proved successful on and off the court!
Tireless Crusader for Tennis
“I harness energy and empower people to take authentic action so that they can see real possibilities beyond what they ever could have imagined ultimately unleashing human potential.”
TCB: Hi, Emma. How old were you when you started tennis and who got you into it?
ED: Thank you for this opportunity to share and reflect on my experiences of playing and coaching in the wonderful and challenging game of tennis. I began playing tennis at the age of 10, quite late really when compared with many junior players in today’s world. I was naturally well co-ordinated with particularly good hand-eye coordination. On the debit side, I was relatively small in stature which, as a junior, meant that I was perhaps slow to specialize. To my credit, this meant that I was able to play many different sports such as cricket, softball, netball, and even Australian Rules Football.
I must say I was particularly fond of football but there were no playing opportunities back in the 1980s for girls. For a brief period at this time we lived in the UK, of course, I played a lot of soccer and rounders and loved it. I share this to highlight the importance of encouraging children to play lots of different sports at a young age. It is foundational. Too often, I see juniors playing only tennis from a very early age, by the time they reach the age of 12/13 years, they are already burnt out!
My parents introduced me to tennis. They both played tennis and squash. My Dad was playing a lot of squash and he modified one of his old racquets so that I could play with him. As a family, we would often play doubles tennis on the weekends. This is how my journey began, a solid foundation based on playing a wide range of sports and with strong family links.
TCB: How did your tennis develop up to college level in Australia and the USA?
ED: What a lovely question, it brings back such lovely memories. I feel particularly blessed to have grown up playing tennis in Melbourne at Maribyrnong Park Tennis Club (MPTC). The competition both within the club and across Melbourne was of a high standard. As a Club, we were not necessarily the best but we were competitive. We enjoyed the camaraderie, the intense competition. It was a platform on which I built life-lasting friendships. Not surprisingly, many of my teammates went on to achieve sporting excellence, namely:
Chris Anstey (Pro basketball player in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Dallas Mavericks and the Chicago Bulls, National Basketball League (NBL) for the Melbourne Tigers, Olympian and now a professional coach)
Dustin Fletcher (AFL premiership player, over 400 games, and Essendon legend)
Mark Philippoussis (Professional tennis player, a career-high ranking of 8 ATP, runner up US open 1998 and Wimbledon 2003)
Joe Sirianni (Professional tennis player for over 15 years, a career-high ranking of 107 ATP)
Tamara Hyett (Professional golfer six years and professional caddie for four years)
Maija Avotins (Australian Institute of Sport tennis scholarship holder, junior Wimbledon finalist)
Tamatha Harding (Tennis Victoria, Manager and leader in Community and Social Projects)
"Effective teaching is not what you say, it's what they hear.
It's not what you show them, it's what they see.
The true value lies in what they know, do and understand."
It was a hotbed of talent and one in which I played a role largely because of the great team environment. As I grew older, I worked on my strength and conditioning which combined with my natural talents began to pay dividends at Club and State competition levels. At this stage, I recall that an influential mentor coach asked me if I thought I had maximized my playing potential. “Absolutely not!” I replied. This led me to explore the possibility of playing US College tennis. But I had no idea if I was good enough to play. I knew of other players around my level that had gone down this path so: “If they can do it, then why not me?”
With newfound inspiration, passion for the game, and a strong fitness base, I wrote to several colleges and included a short video of my strokes. Within four weeks, the girl from Melbourne was on a plane to Nashville, Tennessee on a full scholarship to play for Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU).
So what did college tennis teach me? It taught me how to discover my inner coach, how to tough out a match physically and mentally! Playing number one in both singles and doubles for a division one college was a challenge. I would be in the warm-up telling myself, this girl is just as good as me with no obvious weaknesses, therefore let’s see who is prepared to stay out on the court longer. Such lessons learned during this time were worth their weight in gold. At the end of the day, you are not just playing for yourself, you are playing for your team and I thrived in this environment.
TCB: How did you end up in Denver, Colorado?
ED: To answer this let me give you some background. In 2010, I began working for Tennis Australia as one of their lead facilitators helping to coach the coaches. I absolutely loved this role and I have continued to work in coach education ever since. In 2013, I received an opportunity, through my connections with Tennis Australia, to speak at the International Tennis Federation world conference in Cancun, Mexico. This put me on the world stage for speaking and presenting.
I found myself among like-minded coaches who shared their ideas freely. There I was privileged to meet up with Judy Murray and Mary Pierce. We were the only female presenters, at that time, doing on-court presentations. This is still an area that I am passionate about today because as Billie Jean King says, ‘If you can see it, you can be it’. Some of the coaches that I met at this conference (Judy Murray, Donato Campagnoli, Piotr Unierzyski, Simon Wheatley) remain close friends and mentors today. So it was moving into the speaking world that created more opportunities.
One such opportunity was to connect up with Jeff Salzenstein at the USPTA world conference in Palm Springs. Jeff lives in Denver, Colorado and, so they say, the rest is history. We worked on an online project called, Winning Doubles – The Aussie Way. This was a great success. During this time, I fell in love with Colorado; the lifestyle, hiking, 300 days of sunshine, and the funky suburbs that makeup Denver. Coming from Australia, I never thought I would live in a place like Colorado because I thought that it snowed all the time. In fact, I think summer in Colorado here is better than in Melbourne because the temperature is more consistent.
TCB: At what point in your life did you realize that speaking, mentoring, coaching is for you? Was there an event or a process leading up to it?
ED: Basically, the positive feedback I received from players as a young assistant coach gave me the realization that I had the right skill set to help people to improve and enjoy their experience on the court. So the idea of a career in coaching started early and has never really left me. However, not surprisingly perhaps, there was a career-defining moment when I started feeling burnt out from life on the court. I decided to hang up the racquets and studied everything to do with emotional intelligence, neuro-linguistic programming, and business/life coaching, all in preparation for a career change. Instead, it catapulted me back into tennis, specifically the world of speaking, mentoring, and coaching.
I realized I had to have more coaching tools in my toolkit, more strategies on how to adapt my communication skills. The moment that I realized that I had to change who I was, based on the person in front of me, in order to bring out their best, was when I felt compelled to get back into coaching the coaches. Verbal and non-verbal communication skills are essential for all coaches when we put the player at the center of the learning environment.
“Be a great listener and let the activity do the teaching for you by setting up an exceptional learning environment."
TCB: You consult, travel, speak, coach. Of all your activities, what do you like most and why?
ED: I am a coach. I love to coach.
The sentiment of Sir John Whitmore, arguably the Father of executive coaching, resonates strongly for me when he points out that the essence of coaching is: “unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.”
When we truly listen to our client, player, athlete, or team, we focus on their needs and not the needs and preconceived ideas of the coach. As coaches we are privileged to see THEIR map of the world, so we are able to join them on THEIR journey and move in THEIR direction. Ultimately, we are coming from a place where we always have their best interests at heart.
In the words of Theodore Roosevelt: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
TCB: Do you have time for a private life? Maybe a hobby?
ED: Absolutely, 100%! This is the essence of life. I am a Libran so balance is one of my highest values. In 2020, I got married and found a silver lining within such a difficult and challenging year. My partner and I have created what we call the Global Triangle and, once we are able to travel again, plan to live around 6 months in Denver, 3 months in Melbourne, Australia, and the remaining time in Europe using Scotland and Norway as our bases. In 2020, we joined a weekly women’s golf league and I competed in my first golf tournament.
One of the benefits of working with clubs and speaking internationally is that we always make time to experience and explore the places we visit. There were many times when I coached on the junior and senior tours, when we simply went from one tournament to the next, one hotel room to the next, never really experiencing the city, people, food, and culture. Now, my career choices afford this opportunity and we always make time to seek out unique and authentic experiences. I sometimes have to pinch myself and remember that this is what is possible and achievable for anyone who works hard and sets their mind towards achieving their goals and dreams.
TCB: Your LinkedIn profile states “Unleashing Human Potential – Creating a world of gender equity.” Are you referring here to equity for females or do you include “other” genders, as well?
First and foremost, my core mission is to “unleash human potential” for all genders. I am particularly passionate about supporting women in coaching and connecting girls in sport. This is evidenced by my work for the WTCA (Women’s Tennis Coaching Association), WCA (Women’s Coaching Association), LTA (She Rallies) and Tennis Australia through numerous Women in Coaching initiatives. “Unleashing” is not threatening, it is simply being open to the fact that all people, both female and male, have within them unrecognized, unlived potential.
Equally, one of my core values is fairness. In order to live this value and create real change in the gender equity space, this involves empowering all of the male champions for change, who still hold many of the decision-making roles in tennis, as well as empowering women to step into their greatness. I don’t want to get a speaking role because they need more women speakers. I want to get the speaking role because of my credentials and therefore, creating a process (equity) of being fair to men and women. In turn, this will help to create and support a more gender-equal world.
TCB: What is your position on Transgender women threatening women’s sports right now?
ED: There is no doubt that this is a complicated issue with many factors. Rights and the issue of fairness is multidimensional. I believe that policies regarding hormonal and physical parameters will no doubt be established in the coming months and years for transgender athletes. The statistics are not really in play yet to make a case one way or the other.
I support the right of transgender women to play and compete in sports. It is especially important that we include much younger children identifying as transgender and allow them opportunities to play and compete in sport. I also understand that defining fairness in competition continues to evolve.
TCB: Towards the end of your 2017 TEDx talk you say, “We have a golden opportunity to begin to restore the balance.” So far so good. But then you continued saying, “It is time to remove the blindfold from Lady Justice so that we might all see and hear clearly a way forward.” Today, the blindfold is generally accepted as a symbol of impartiality. Why would you want to remove those?
ED: Thank you for listening to my TEDx talk on ‘Unleashing Female Potential’. It was six months of preparation, 33 drafts over in 13.5 minutes! Equally, it is one of my proudest talks with over 5,000 views and still growing. To answer your question, it is important to recognize that the blindfold is a symbol, a metaphor, which we do not take literally. So in this context, it is “as if” (i.e. metaphor) removing the blindfold helps us to “see” more clearly the results of our actions.
TCB: Have you played pickleball? What do you think of the sport? Any plans to incorporate it into your programs?
ED: Yes, when the pandemic hit, I started playing Pickleball for fitness reasons. While I do enjoy the sport, it is not tennis and it will never replace tennis. There is no doubt that I can see the attraction and it is a much easier game to play technically than tennis. Having said that, tennis has come a long way in the use of modified equipment and balls to make it easier for everyone to play as well. I love playing with the green dot ball as I can get away with still looking like I can play some great tennis (haha)!!
My US sponsor is the fabulous family-run company (OnCourt OffCourt) with Joe and Kalindi Dinoffer. They have been great supporters of my career and I am eternally grateful for their support. We have collaborated on a number of projects, namely, Pickleball Hack – For Tennis Players. This course is all about what are the similarities between pickleball and tennis as well as what are the differences. In this online course, we showcase many of the OnCourt OffCourt training aids and products to help you "FEEL" the difference as well as practical drills to improve your fitness and how to develop your skills with the use of a wall at home. Here is a link to learn more about this course: https://www.acecoach.com.au/pickleball-hack
“Always remember that ‘coaching’ is not the sport, tennis is. Therefore find creative ways to help children learn and consequently fall in love with tennis and become lifelong advocates for our great sport.”
Now, back to my passion, tennis, the other project that we have developed together is the Kinesthetic Learning Academy (KLA). The KLA is the definitive guide for parents, players, and coaches in the post-COVID tennis world. Life as we know it is different. We have seen an increase in private lessons as well as players improving their skills at home to complement weekly training. Parents can play a role in supporting their children to practice at home using the OnCourt OffCourt Kinesthetic Learning equipment shown in these online videos. According to Max Planck Institute research project, kinesthetic learning can speed up and help with player improvement by up to 200% (this was tested in skiing and golf). There are over 80 videos supporting players on and off the court. As I always say, the ball is in your court.
Thank you for this opportunity to share a part of my story and for everything you do to move our industry forward. I appreciate the thought-provoking and life outside of tennis questions. May we all play our role in unleashing human potential and creating a world of gender equity through one of the greatest gifts on this planet, that is, being a coach!
If anyone is interested in contacting me to learn more, here are my details:
TCB: Thank you, Emma.
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