So, you have a passion for tennis and want to craft a career in which you can pass your knowledge and expertise onto players both aspiring and professional? Then you’ve come to the right place.
You want to be a tennis coach, but you’re not quite sure how to get started. Sound familiar?
Here, we explore the steps necessary to becoming a tennis coach. Whether you want to coach beginners or professionals, listen up.
From Nadal to Murray; Williams to Sharapova, all tennis players start at the beginning, with a coach.
It is the responsibility of a tennis coach to teach players everything there is to know about the sport. From the rules of the game, including court logistics, to play itself and mindfulness and training off the court, a tennis coach must work with their students to get the very best performance and to keep improving – always.
As a tennis coach, you’re a mentor. You should know how to describe every tennis strategy and teach your students how to perform with power without incurring injury or stepping out of line. It is your job to take a player from the early stages of their career through to small tournaments and, eventually, professional play.
Although, all the while you’re teaching your student about tennis – how to serve and strike, how to better understand their opponent – you must be a friend, too.
Like any sport, tennis is consuming and, therefore, your students need to feel they can talk to you if they have a concern about their performance or something happening off the court that may affect their play. Helping students to build and maintain their confidence and mental capacity is essential at every level.
If you’re an excellent tennis player and have a passion for learning and, more importantly, know how to direct other players, tennis coaching may be your calling.
If you want to be a professional tennis coach, you need to be qualified and accredited.
In the USA, there are two main organizations you can attain coaching qualifications through: The United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) and Professional Tennis Registry (PTR).
The process of becoming a tennis coach in the USA is a more formal one than in the UK. You must take exams and pass demonstrations to qualify.
You can get certified as a Professional, Elite Professional, or a Master Professional. Each exam has three sections: stroke production, teaching and written.
The demonstration part of the exam requires you to show that you can perform accurately when completing the following strokes: forehand, backhand, serve, volley, lob and drop shot.
The teaching section of the exam requires you to demonstrate an understanding of various grips, plus the completing of a 25-minute private lesson and a 25-minute group lesson.
Lastly, the written section of the exam covers everything from current affairs in tennis to teaching and playing, professional conduct and equipment to the definition of terms and explanation of rules, and court maintenance.
If you would like to teach professional tennis, you must attain the Professional qualification at the very least. However, for lower-grade roles, you can complete workshops through the USPTA.
In the UK, the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) is the leading provider of tennis coaching qualifications.
To begin with, you must complete Coaching Assistant Level 1 and 2 qualifications. These cover how to deliver structured tennis lessons under the supervision of a coach, as well as tactics, techniques and the rules of tennis that you need to pass onto your students. This part of the qualification will also teach you how to coach beginners in a group setting and feedback to students effectively so that they can improve.
The next step of the qualification is Coaching Level 3. This part of the course is for those that want to teach without supervision and, better still, teach more experienced players. You will learn how to coach tennis beginners as well as ‘improvers’ on a one-to-one basis.
When you have your Coaching qualification, there are various tiers of coach you can work towards. You can choose whether to go down the tennis club coach or performance coach route. As a club coach, you will often work with beginner to moderate players in a semi-professional setting, often teaching in groups. As a performance coach, you will work with high-performance players, including established professionals.
Explore the LTA website to find out more about all the tennis qualifications on offer.
Once you have undertaken the relevant training, you can become an LTA-accredited tennis coach. Some clubs may require you to have a membership to the LTA to qualify for teaching roles, but there are some that don’t. However, accreditation is an excellent ‘stamp of approval’ recognized across the industry. Therefore, it can be incredibly beneficial to be an accredited coach, proving that you are fully qualified.
Browse what LTA coach accreditation involves and how to attain it through their website.
Education aside, there are a few steps you must take before you can pursue a career as a tennis coach.
More than anything, having a passion for and knowledge of tennis is crucial to be a successful tennis coach. You must follow what players across the globe are doing, how they play, how they are performing, and spend a significant amount of time watching and analyzing tennis, so you know the game inside-out. If you truly want to be exceptional at the sport and pass your knowledge on to those less in the know, you need to show that you have an advanced understanding of the industry, can make references, and talk about tennis professionally.
Of course, as well as knowing a lot about the sport, you need to be able to play to an exceptional standard, too. Although some tennis coaches are not brilliant players themselves, it’s about knowing how to apply knowledge to get the most out of a performance. Playing tennis every day, for instance, will give you a good grasp of what works and what doesn’t, game strategy, and what it’s like to be on a court.
Generally, as a tennis coach, you are expected to play tennis at a reasonable level, to the extent that you could be a semi-professional. Although, this depends on the level at which you’re teaching; if you’re a tennis coach at a school club, your understanding can be lesser.
All the while you’re teaching tennis, make sure you continue to practice and train to better your skills – it’ll make you a better coach.
If you’re not confident of your skills, consider undertaking tennis lessons to perfect your craft.
When you’re happy that your skills are of a high standard, you should undertake a qualification as many clubs, schools and other associations will require you to be certified by a leading body.
Once you’re qualified, you need to find a job assisting a full-time coach.
There are several ways you can get a job as an Assistant Coach. Most tennis clubs and general sports clubs will have openings for tennis coaches at one time or another, so keep an eye on those in your local area and put in a CV when a position comes up. The same goes for schools, colleges and universities. However, you can also approach independent coaches that work on a freelance basis. If you tap ‘tennis coach near me’ into Google, you’ll find an array of options. Contact the coaches, mention your experience, and try to arrange a meeting.
Once you’ve gone as far as you’d like to go with qualifications, you can up your game. Now, you no longer need to be an assistant but, instead, can begin teaching groups and one-to-one by yourself.
Like before, as well as applying directly to tennis and sports clubs, as well as education providers, there are multiple ways you can get into coaching. One of the best ways to become a professional tennis coach is to establish your own business, set up a website that boasts your experience, qualifications and, if you have it, accreditation, and then begin advertising yourself online and locally.
To begin, keep your hourly rate reasonable (something around £25-30 an hour is acceptable) and build your client base from there. You can advertise your services in local magazines and sports bulletins, plus bring in modern marketing methods such as Facebook and Google Ads.
While you learn to be a tennis coach, you may want to consider volunteering opportunities.
The LTA and USPTA both offer volunteering opportunities that allow you to assist at schools and tennis clubs on a non-official basis. These opportunities are the perfect way to build up your knowledge of what it means to be a tennis coach and what’s expected of you as a coaching assistant. In the roles on offer, you will work one-to-one with players, as well as groups, as begin building your communication skills, which is invaluable if you’re looking to become a professional coach with your own business.
Becoming a professional tennis coach is not an easy feat. However, if you love tennis and have the passion required to drive your skills forward and understand the game through-and-through, it’s easily achievable. Train, get qualified and begin advertising your services. With time, providing you’re generating positive results, you will develop a reliable client base and work your way up the ranks.