Updated: Sep 3
Are you looking to take your tennis club program to the next level?
Hiring a good coach can make all the difference.
But with so many options, how do you find the best coach for your team? Will they fit your culture, philosophy and style?
In this blog post, I will give you all the tips and tricks to find the perfect tennis instructors near you.
We'll cover everything from qualifications and experience to job responsibilities and cultural fit.
Whether you're looking for an assistant coach or a head coach, this article will help you make the right hiring decision.
So let's get started and find a great way of finding the best coach for your local tennis club today!
Qualifications and experience
Let's start at the level of coach you wish to hire or employ. In a recent article, we looked at How to become a tennis coach and the various levels of coaching.
Qualifications are, in reality, just a signal that the coach has conducted some formal qualifications, and they shouldn't measure how good the coach is.
I know some great level 1 tennis coaches and pretty shocking level 5 tennis coaches.
The higher the levels does not always mean they are a good tennis coach.
In the UK, the qualification pathway splits from level four onwards into Performance and Development. The performance pathway provides coaches with more player development-specific skills, and the development pathway is for coaches who wish to run and manage programs.
This could be a good starting point for what type of coach you are looking for.
You may also look at how many days of formal training the coach has conducted. A Level 3 Coach awarded in the UK is roughly 14 days, and a PTR or RPT coach award is generally much lower.
Again, I would use the qualification to guide how much formal training the coach has conducted.
However, there is no substitute to experience.
The coach's experience is probably a better guide, and you should request the coach outlines their relevant experience in their cover letter.
Has the coach delivered a similar training program to yours? Are they experienced in showing results within the age group or participated in providing group tennis lessons for recreational players, for example?
You may wish to look at how many years of experience the coach has and if they enjoy conducting private lessons or group lessons.
I would suggest you be wary of players who talk about their laying background, and you are hiring a coach, not a player. There is little benefit in hiring professional players if you're looking for someone to work in your local tennis clubs community program. They may be an attraction to your players but may struggle to relate or connect with your clients.
A professional tennis coach may be helpful if you are a performance centre or a club looking for a coach to work with professional or aspiring players.
You must advertise and discuss the job's role and responsibilities.
I firmly believe that every tennis coach's role and responsibility is to inspire, motivate and develop competitive tennis players at every level.
As a coach, my role is to develop every player to their full potential, no matter their level.
The coach will impact your tennis program in terms of attraction and retention, and you must outline how the coach will be responsible towards these key performance indicators.
The best tennis coaches will plan, reflect and develop lesson plans and syllabus to meet the needs and demands of the players. A passionate tennis coach will bring commitment and professionalism to every lesson regarding delivery and appearance.
You should be clear about the set schedule of tennis lessons the coach may be asked to conduct, how private tennis lesson work if they help clean the tennis court or drag the clay courts at the end of a day's work etc.
Will your coach travel to tournaments, be available to work school holidays, and would the successful candidates be requested to attend regular team meetings?
Be clear about the role, its responsibilities and demands from the start.
What is the recruitment process for the coach?
Will they be requested to show their tennis skills in the first lesson? If you invite them to conduct a lesson, inform them of the level, give them a background on the group's level, what they enjoy and previous lessons. The more information you provide the coach, the better.
I would also encourage giving hints about your club's style and philosophy.
Are you a constraint-led, game-based, or basket-feeding technical-style club?
Explain the steps involved in the recruitment process, including how candidates can apply, what selection criteria will be used and the timeline for the recruitment process.
This will give the coach a feel for your style and help them decide if it's similar to their style.
What type of interview is in place? Give the coach some guidance on what to wear! I always have a dilemma with this! Do I dress in a shirt and tie and risk being overdressed, or wear my coaching clothes and chance being under-dressed?
Help the coach out and state what you would like to see in the interview invitation.
Try and avoid basic interview questions. In my experience, 99% of interview answers are what they want you to hear. Stock, standard answers they know will get some points in the interview.
After three weeks, you stop seeing the 'I am always reliable' side of the coach, and they are now always late.
I often get coaches into 'role-playing' situations in an interview, and I want to see how well the coach communicates and sells me a vision.
A common one I use is 'Sell me this pen'. I want to see if the coach can identify 'why' I need the pen, the benefits of the pen and make us buy in. This is the same as tennis coaching. We need to sell the why and the befits and get buy-in from the players.
How quickly will you decide on the right choice of coach, and what will be the process of letting the coach know if they are successful?
The transparent and honest approach to the recruitment process makes you look professional and helps the coach fully understand what is required to secure the job.
How will they fit into your culture at the club? We discussed culture and climate settings recently in an article. Culture is all around us and can be as simple as how you communicate with your team. Are you an autocratic tennis manager, and everything is by your vision, or do you empower your team to bring ideas to the table?
What is the coach's philosophy, and how will that fit into your program? Are they the technical experts of a former great player? Do they specialise in working with specific age groups, or are they great coaches with juniors?
A great mix of coaching cultures with commonly shared values such as honesty, teamwork, and commitment is sometimes advantageous.
They may be a great coach, but if they are selfish and only interested in themselves, this will hurt your program. Tennis coaches are mainly ex-players.
When discussing culture, I often tell a story about three workers building a cathedral. The original story, I believe, was told by Sir Alex Ferguson when signing players for Manchester United. I think it's based on a parable about three bricklayers building St Pauls's Cathedral.
Three workers are building a cathedral, and a bypass stops and ask them why they are working on the building.
Worker 1 replies- The money is good
Worker 2 replies- Im, a builder. It's all I know how to do
Worker 3 answers - I want to build something special
Tennis coaching is paid well; most coaches are ex-players, and it's all they know, but I want that third coach, the one who wants to be part of something special. I like the coaching position to be filled by someone who wants to build something special, take pride in their work, and not just be after the easy money or stay in their comfort zone.
Salary and benefits
As we looked at in this article, tennis coaches get paid reasonably well.
There are several possible ways to pay the coach, and remember these are professional coaches who have conducted qualifications and on-the-job experience, so pay them their worth.
Too often now, clubs and companies see coaches as cash cows and place rentals, fees and other charges to take almost tax the coaches.
These are qualified coaches who have to pay taxes, pensions, insurance, sick pay and holiday pay from what you pay them. The pay structure should be fair, transparent and incentivised for both parties to profit from the service the coach provides.
The average cost of tennis professionals in the UK range from £15-60 per hour, depending on location and experience. I highly recommend researching your local competition and creating a competitive package for your job opening.
Additional benefits may be club membership, gym access, racket and clothing sponsorship etc. This can make a huge difference in making your position look more appealing and keep your coaches happy.
If they haven't developed and grown, I never want my coaches to stay for more than four or five years. I want my coaches to be invested in their personal development and move on to new challenges and opportunities down the road. I always ask the question when I have an interview as a coach, how will this job help me develop?
You see, I want to work with coaches who can help me develop my style. I want to learn new techniques, games and ways of communicating.
On the flip side, when I hire a coach, I always ask how they have grown over the previous two years, what CPD courses they have invested in, what books they read and who their mentors are.
If the coach has limited, generic or irrelevant CPD, I'm out like dragons den/shark tank.
I want a coach who is invested in their learning and goes above and beyond their coach qualification to better themselves, as ultimately, they invest in themselves and the players they work with.
If they lack quality CPD, I will always follow up with your personal development plan.
Do they even have one?
I always offer my team's internal training, peer-to-peer learning and mentoring. The importance of mentoring can't be underestimated. The best tennis coaches I have ever met are a hybrid of multiple coaches they have worked with. A good coach will mould the best of their peers into their unique style.
If the coach has no interest in personal development, it is an absolute deal breaker for me.
In conclusion, hiring the right tennis coach is critical to the success of your tennis club. By following the tips and guidelines outlined in this article, you can ensure you find the best coach for your team.
Remember to focus on qualifications and experience, job responsibilities, recruitment process, culture fit, salary and benefits, and growth opportunities when evaluating tennis coaches.
By finding the right coach, you can elevate your club's performance and help your players achieve their full potential. Good luck with your recruitment process, and happy playing!
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About the Author:
Steve Whelan is a highly experienced tennis coach and educator with over two decades of experience in the industry. He has worked with thousands of players and coaches, helping them to reach their full potential on the court.
In 2022, Steve's social media content reached over 20 million views, solidifying his position as a leading voice in the tennis world.
Learn more about Steve's impressive career by visiting his website at www.mytenniscoaching.com.
For inquiries or to schedule a coaching session, you can contact Steve directly at email@example.com.