Tennis is a sport that attracts millions of eyeballs each year to its international tournaments. Take The US Open, Wimbledon viewership, for example.
In fact, according to a survey, about 87 million people worldwide play the game. That’s only players! Count in the spectators and the figure crosses 1 billion.
With such a gigantic fan base the sport clearly has a juicy promise for those looking at it as a possible investment.
That’s the reason why many, or say, most tennis stars consider starting their own coaching academy post-retirement. Sometimes even as they’re still active.
For reference, Alexander Waske, Rafa Nadal are fitting examples of player-turned-coaches in tennis.
In this article, you’re going to find out how exactly YOU can start your tennis coaching business in 7 steps – and you don’t even have to be a world-class player.
One note before we get started – don’t be discouraged, thinking you need to be a Serena Williams or Roger Federer to be a tennis coach.
Not at all!
To start teaching people tennis all you need is an undying passion and unfettered commitment to play and teach the prestigious sport. You just need to be true to the game.
Alright, without further ado, here are the steps…
Get Certified By the Authorities
First of all, all your tennis-related talent is pretty much zero use if it’s not validated by the authorities.
Take it this way: would you ever try your luck and learn from someone claiming to be a Taekwondo master who had, say, no credentials to back him up? Absolutely not, right?
Well, the same is the case with tennis, or, for that matter, any sport.
So, get certified as soon as possible.
Basically, there are two major certifications in the US. United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) and Professional Tennis Registry (PTR). The difference being their level of specialization.
USPTA has a tennis-for-everyone kind of policy regardless of the age and ability of a player.
PTR, on the other hand, is a specialization platform and they focus on picking the best match for their criteria.
As a coach, you can be a member of one or both organizations and enjoy exclusive benefits.
Make Up a Detailed Business Plan
To set your goal and begin working toward it, you’ll need to have a thorough business plan at hand and to create it you’ll want to look at a list of factors.
To begin with, you must decide on your target audience.
What age group will you coach in tennis? Children, high-school students, middle-aged businessmen, retired citizens?
Although you can go for an open-for-all academy, it could fire in the wrong direction.
Because kids could get frustrated having to play with old people and college teens can easily get fed-up with practicing with little children. So, specialize! (Unless you can afford separate courts for every age group, can you?)
Moreover, you’ll want to write down your financial plan. How much do you aim at earning from the business? And, how are you going to fund the business in the first place?
Do you plan to take out a loan? If so, will you be good with the ensuing interest installments?
Those are all questions that you MUST answer before thinking of starting tennis coaching.
The best is to seek professional advice by meeting an expert business analyst and putting your case to him or her.
P.S: What will you name your academy? That’s a crucial one.
Evaluate the Competition
Now, it’s time to count and size up your competitors.
On a side note, hopefully, you’re not located in NY or Florida – they have the majority of US tennis coaches. (Count them or count sheep!)
The easy way to evaluate your competition is by doing a quick Google search.
So, learn about the top tennis coaching institutes in your area and how strong are their chances to barrier your entry into the industry.
But don’t let the competition scare you.
The upside of competition is that you can be sure there’s a market for what you’re selling and you can fight your way up to claim your slice of the cake.
But fighting an already established tennis coach, in terms of prices particularly, may not be the best thing to do. You set lower prices and they catch up by further lowering their prices, end result: both head for rock bottom!
Therefore, the best approach to deal with competition is by finding your “unique selling point (USP)”. By differentiation.
You’re going to learn more about it in the 5th step.
Next, let’s talk about finding a venue.
Look for a Great Venue
As it happens, professional tennis requires a lot of land.
A normal-sized tennis court can usually take max 6 players in a triples match, but that’s still rare. Also, new students may need one-on-one training rather than team plays.
The thing is that you’re going to need plenty of land property to provide the students with enough space to play and practice freely.
So, to find a suitable place for your tennis school hit the local directory and search for tennis communities in your area.
Drive down to the venues that best match your preferences and scout them out.
If you’ll offer classes during school vacations, like summer camps, find out which local schools have tennis facility and if they are willing to rent out the place to you during the breaks.
Further, you can consider buying a plot where you can build your court from scratch.
But, that’s obviously going to cost thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of dollars.
Another option may be that you partner with schools in your city lacking coaches, run your business on their premises and split the profits.
Strategize Your Marketing
Now, this is, perhaps, the most important part of the entire plan. And, ironically, this has nothing to with tennis as such.
Effective marketing, as you know, is the key to success for any business.
To start your coaching academy in the right gear you’ll need to adopt the right marketing strategy.
So, hitting back on the ‘unique selling point’, decide on one. And, to get it right, get clear with your target audience first. Again, who do you aspire to teach tennis?
Let’s say, you’re targeting senior citizens. So, build your marketing campaign around them as precisely as possible.
Get your ads published in the local newspaper (which old people are likely to read). Contact old care homes and offer them free vouchers. Cold calling can also help.
Get flyers written and dispersed keeping in view the benefits that old people will get from playing tennis at your academy. Like, achieving fitness, health, happiness.
Sell them benefits!
Similarly, if your students are going to be teenagers, you’ll advertise by using more modern channels like social media, school magazine ads or cold emails.
Got the idea? Great!
Get Coaches, Equipment and Insurance
You’re definitely not thinking in terms of a one-man-show, are you?
Because if you think you can singlehandedly manage your business, give enough attention to your students and also deal with parents and customers you are dead wrong.
You are most likely going to need a helping hand – or, much more likely, multiple helping hands!
So, begin recruiting coaches and make sure they are the real deal and not casuals.
You’ll also want to do background checks on all the staff on your courts to ensure all your coaches and assisting force is clean and on the level.
As for equipment, get the standard and recommended paraphernalia for tennis. Here’s a list:
- Different sized rackets
- Tennis balls
- Vibration dampeners
- Ball machines
Now, take it easy. You’ll not have to supply every kid on the court with all of that stuff.
Usually, students are required to bring their own stuff or pay for what they take from your premises.
But it’s definitely the best strategy to have every piece of tennis equipment available at your academy. Unless, of course, you’re OK to tell the tennis learners, “Well, we don’t keep rackets here!”
And, last but not the least, get the academy fully insured against all kinds of threats and risks.
However, most probably, that’s going to be a necessary requirement by law when you start the coaching business. So, you’ll be getting insured anyway.
Structure Your Classes
A lot of academies start out with great hope and enthusiasm but soon, as student numbers grow, the quality of coaching stoops and the academy loses the spirit.
That happens for many different reasons, but a major reason is that the classes are not properly structured.
When classes clash, when teachers are split between training several pupils of different ages all at once, when pupils have to wait long for a court to be free so they can have their turn, the quality of coaching is bound to deteriorate.
That’s common sense.
So, to avoid upsetting students and to keep your academy in perfect order, put all your mind to structuring your classes.
A great tip can be to visit a couple of tennis courts in your city (outside your competition zone) and see how they manage their practice sessions.
On what basis they allocate coaches to each group of players.
And, how they set the timings for each class.
This will surely be a lot of help. Plus you can also look up books or free tutorials explaining the best strategies for designing classes. There are plenty of them on the internet.
The seven steps you went through are the major ones that you’ll take to get on track and kick off your journey to starting your tennis coaching business.
Bear in mind, the journey will be bumpy. So, you’ll have to be mentally prepared for all kinds of ups and downs.
Just like any business, for your tennis coaching dream to come true you’ll have to start off with a comprehensive plan in sight.
The plan, combined with the right choice of coaches, perfect location and a portfolio of certification, pushed on with hard work and perseverance will mean your success.
That’s all you need. Get to work!
Now… head for the comments share your thoughts. Also, let us know YOUR story. How did you (or someone you know) start your sports coaching business? Everyone is keen to hear it!