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Industry Spotlight: How to Become a Tennis Coach

tennis coach jobsThousands of people flocked to Wimbledon this summer to see Andy Murray take home the title. Murray, who is the first British man to win the singles tournament in 77 years, beat world number one Djokovic in three straight sets. Many have credited his success to his determination and to his Tennis Coach Ivan Lendle. So what exactly does a Coach do? And what does a career as a Tennis Coach involve?

Jobulo spoke to Tom Stevenson, a Tennis Coach for Dallington Juniors, to find out more about the job.

Tell Us About Your Career Background?

When I was 14 I began assisting coaching lessons and I went on to playing in my spare time with some of the more advanced players at my club, before taking my first Coaching Assistant qualification when I was 16. I took my full coaching qualification two years later before going to university. I continued with coaching during my time at university so I didn’t let my regular clients down. This did mean driving home every weekend, but the commitment was worth it to continue developing my coaching relationships. I graduated in 2011 and I now coach full time, mainly at Dallington Lawn Tennis Club in Northampton, as well as doing work in schools and other local clubs. I’ve also represented Northants County Tennis and played for the Birmingham University Men’s first Team.

Did You Have a Lot of Experience in Playing Tennis before Becoming a Coach?

I started playing tennis when I was eight years old, just going to one group lesson a week. After some one-on-one lessons and developing my skills, I began playing matches and went on to larger tournaments. I played for Dallington Lawn Tennis Club in junior matches and eventually joined the adult teams.

What Made You Want to Become a Coach?

I always enjoyed the sport when I was growing up but coaching wasn’t something I ever really thought about as a future profession. It was only when my coach asked me to do some assisting in lessons that I realised how much I enjoyed the teaching side of things, and from there on I helped more and more until eventually I was taking groups on my own. I went to Wimbledon for the first time when I was 10 and every year since I always look forward to going back. I watched Federer playing there before he hit the big time and just thought he was incredible, so I think it’s fair to say that he’s a big inspiration. But the more experience I had with coaching, the more I realised how much I enjoyed it as opposed to actually playing professionally.

What Skills Are Required to Work as a Tennis Coach?

Obviously you need to have knowledge of the game but personal skills go a long way. Positivity, compassion, patience and confidence are all traits that are needed on a daily basis. You need to be able to deal with stroppy children, shy children, competitive adults and sometimes older adults who need techniques adjusting to suit their physical needs. It’s about adapting.

If a Candidate Wants to Work in this Field, Where Do They Start?

I’d say to firstly go down to your local tennis club and see if there are volunteering opportunities available, either assisting with group coaching or working on children’s summer activities for example. Also have a look on the LTAwebsite, there’s loads of information there about where to start and how best to progress.

What’s a Day in the Job Like?

No day is ever the same – that’s one of the things I love! My typical day usually starts at a school for an early morning junior group lesson, followed by a few adult individuals mid morning, a pre-school group around lunchtime and then a break before after-school classes begin. I may finish the day with an adult individual lesson. Obviously the weather plays a big part in outdoor lessons, so living in England makes it even more unpredictable!

What Are Your Main Responsibilities When it Comes to Coaching Players?

Making sure the player always enjoys themselves, making sure they are safe, coaching to the very best of your ability in order for them to achieve their potential and giving them a good understanding of the game.

What is the Best Part of the Job?

Seeing how well a player has progressed is always really fulfilling. Seeing someone go from having very basic knowledge and skill to playing matches and winning tournaments is fantastic. It’s a great feeling to see someone who never thought they would be able to play well hit a brilliant shot and be proud of it.

What is the Hardest Part of the Job?

Days can be very long and you don’t have the most sociable work hours!

In Your Opinion, What’s the Most Important Thing to Include on a CV If You Are Applying for a Job as a Tennis Coach?

Being able to demonstrate that you can/have worked with a variety of people is useful, from young children to older adults – it demonstrates that you are adaptable and have no limits. However if you’re looking for work at a tennis club, the work does tend to be mainly with juniors, so building up that experience will likely get you further than just adult coaching. And obviously showing that you have a personal interest in tennis, but that goes without saying!