Updated: Sep 3
You love tennis, even though love means nothing to players!
But can you become a tennis coach?
In this article, I will guide you through a step-by-step guide on turning your passion into a side hustle or full-time job.
The excellent news is straight away and it's not a job just for ex-professional tennis players. Virtually anyone can become a tennis coach at varying levels.
But what skills, qualifications, and how much money can you earn?
Let's find out.
Is it hard to become a Tennis Coach?
It depends on your definition of hard, and I guess you can turn up with a basket of balls and start laying out some cones and shouting random technical snippets of advice.
Becoming a great tennis coach takes years of practice, study, trial, and error, mistakes, highs, lows and everything in between. Becoming a tennis coach is relatively straightforward, get a qualification (more on that later), insurance and additional training such as Safeguarding and First Aid, and you are good to go.
Some coaches choose to have no qualifications or insurance, don't be like that coach. Like life, accidents happen. If you were to, unfortunately, injure a player via a stray ball, broken fence or poor technical advice, the insurance company would look at your qualifications, training and insurance etc.
You could be in severe financial trouble if you have little or no of these.
A good coach will have qualifications from a significant governing body such as the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), United States Professional Tennis Association (USTA), Professional Tennis Registry (PTR) or the International Tennis Federation (ITF).
Before applying and paying for a formal qualification, ensure you have the essential skill set for coaching. It is not as easy as people think.
What skills do you need to be a Tennis Coach?
Tennis is not just for professional players playing the major grand slams, and players play tennis in local tennis clubs across the world. The skill levels of these players range from complete beginners to competitive players, sometimes referred to as performance players.
Every level of the sport needs a coach. So you don't need to be an ex-professional player to become a coach.
You need some experience playing the game, which may be playing for your local club or school, up to professional tennis.
This will not only give you some credibility, but you will be able to relate to your player's experiences and offer a more powerful experience than any course or qualification you may conduct. You should also be familiar with the rules of the game.
You need to love the game.
This is non-negotiable. You must be passionate about tennis and want to grow the game and promote it. If you don't love tennis, stop reading this article, as coaching is not for you.
The vast majority of lousy tennis coaches I have worked with through the years don't love tennis and only move into coaching because it's all they know, and they want what they perceive as easy money. The opposite happens. They hate what they do, deliver poor lessons, and their players leave and find another sport.
This kills our sport.
But what soft skills do you need?
Confidence - You need to be outgoing and confident, as coaching is like a performance. You present, motivate, engage and inspire your audience (your players). This takes considerable confidence to speak in public and show off your knowledge and skills. The good news is if you read this, these are skills that can be practised, developed and improved over time.
When I started coaching in 1999, I was a shy, timed introvert. Today I present in front of thousands of coaches and players each year. It just takes time to know your craft and have excellent coaching skills.
Knowledge - A considerable part of your confidence will come from your understanding. You will need to learn not only about tennis skills such as tactics and technique but also psychology and physical development. Tennis is constantly evolving, and my coaching has dramatically changed from when I first started back in 1999. Modern science, technology and the world are constantly changing.
You will have to carry on your CPD (Continous Professional Development) to keep up. Every week will listen to podcasts, watch webinars and read books to keep me on the cutting edge of coaching developments.
Skills - You need soft skills rather than hard skills to be a great coach.
These skills are things such as Communication, Demonstration and organisation skills.
Communication skills are vital for a coach, and there is no point in having all the coaching knowledge if you can't transfer that information either verbally or non-verbally. The verbal skills a good coach will display are clear, simple and positive voice projection. A tennis environment can be pretty loud.
You may struggle to get your message across if no one can hear you.
You need to understand how much information to give to your players. Young players can only handle limited information, and nervous players may find your tone scary and overbearing. How you talk, when, and how often you speak is a skill.
Tennis players also learn in three different ways: visual (watch), auditory (listen) and kinesthetic (feel).
It would help if you had excellent communication with your body language, facial expressions and ability to show how to play visually. The vast majority of children are visual or kinesthetic learners. Therefore, you need to be able to get your message across more visually rather than relying on just telling.
You also need to be able to demonstrate to your players what they need to do. This takes some tennis skills, which should be linked to your experience level. If you're a club-level player, you should be able to demonstrate to play at this level to your players confidently. It would help if you were confident to show all the tennis shots in every game situation to the level you are working at (or aiming for).
Finally, you need to be great at organisation.
You will need to be able to rotate large groups, deal with mixed abilities, manage timetables, manage your diary, run a business, and so much more. Tennis coaching is not just about hitting a ball over the next; there is so much that goes into every lesson, from planning, reflection, feedback and communication with clubs, committees and peers.
As you can see, it's not just about a basket of balls and a few cones. To become a professional tennis instructor at any level, you need passion, confidence, knowledge and skills. I run an online program called My Mentoring that is written and signed to give you all these skills and more.
What qualifications do you need to be a tennis coach?
It would be best if you got qualified; as I mentioned at the start of this article, some 'coaches' see qualifications as an unnecessary part of the process. They feel they are expert players and can bypass qualifications. As we just covered, you need many skills to become a tennis coach.
These qualification courses are going to give you the knowledge, skills and confidence to become a coach.
Depending on where you are in the world, most governing bodies will offer tennis coaching qualifications. As I am based here in the UK and deliver the LTA (Lawn Tennis Association) qualifications, I will discuss them. I will provide links to other major national governing bodies below, so please check your coach qualification pathway for your areas.
LTA Assistant Course (Formely LTA Level 1)
The first level of the coach education pathway in the UK, the course provides you with the skills to become an assistant coach. The course mainly focuses on working with young children ages 4-8 in the Blue and red levels of tennis.
This introduction to coaching skills covers the three fundamental pillars discussed earlier in the article, communication, demonstration and organisation.
The course has no set certification exams, but assistants do need to display a competency of demonstration and feeding skills for Red tennis.
What can a level 1 tennis coach do?
As an Assistant, you can help your head coach deliver lessons; you won't receive training in coaching sessions on your own.
LTA Instructor (Formely LTA level 2)
The next level is the LTA Instructor (Level 2). This four-day course develops further your communication, demonstration and organisational skills, but now with older players from the orange level and above. The course also introduces coaches to observation, analysis and teaching.
This qualification introduces you to coaching groups of adult and junior beginners using LTA programmes such as Cardio Tennis, Tennis Xpress, Pair and Play, LTA Youth Schools and Inclusive tennis.
What Can a Level 2 coach do?
LTA Instructors can run group lessons now under the guidance of a head coach, they don't need the coach to be on the court, but the management and running of the programme should be facilitated by a level 3 and above coach. The course covers coaching from orange to adults, so combined with your assistant course, you now should have the skills to coach all ages of beginners.
The course does not cover private lessons. You could, in principle, deliver lessons but be wary of insurance issues if anything did go wrong. The insurance company will consider your experience, qualification and training in any claim against you.
Level 3 and Above
As this article mainly looks at becoming a coach, we won't look at the other levels, but you can find more information below.
Other Coach Education providers
You may find alternative coach's education providers such as PTR and RPT. These organisations offer alternative coach education qualifications, allowing you to enter the LTA coach licensing scheme but are also more recognised in Europe and the USA. These could be ideal if you're looking to travel as a tennis coach or wish to have an alternative qualification.
Tennis Coaching Courses
You can also find non-qualification courses online to upskill your knowledge and skills. I run several coach dedication online courses such as My Mentoring Program, Online Webinars and Face to Face workshops.
How much do Tennis Coaches Get Paid?
ennis coaches can make very good money from tennis lessons, running a training program for a school team, becoming a club coach or conducting lessons at a country club. Most tennis students use coaching as an aside hustle to pay for college or university.
One of the best ways to pay for a bachelor's degree is by getting on the tennis court in the summer and hitting some balls.
Once you start coaching and fall in love with it, it can quickly become a full-time career.
Conclusion on How To Become A Tennis Coach
So there you have it, you don't need a college degree in physical education, and you don't need ATP or WTA points to become a tennis coach. You need passion, confidence, knowledge and skills. You can aim for different levels of certification and use several qualification providers.
Join Our Community
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Your Coach - Steve Whelan
Written by Steve Whelan
Steve has developed thousands of tennis players and tennis coaches over the past twenty years as a coach and educator.
Steve had over 30 million social media views in 2022 alone.
Read About Steve's fantastic career here.