What’s it like to coach tennis for a living?
There are a variety of coaches of many different ages and levels out there. From your recreational and high school coaches to your professional and elite coaches. Each of which have some similarities and differences in their daily routine. After 2.5 years of coaching high performance players as well as recreational players here’s what its like to make a living from coaching tennis.
Your days are unpredictable
As a coach there’s always a moderate level of uncertainty with your day-to-day schedule. Outside of your true days off, it’s never 100% the same one week to the next. Lessons cancel or reschedule, players go out for tournaments, drills are full one week and empty the next. If you aren’t a fan of a strict routine job, this is a good refresher from the norm.
The hours can be odd
A coach is most busy when everyone else is less busy. That makes the evenings and weekends prime time to cash in on lessons, drills and groups. The good news is that you don’t have to work on weekends or evenings if you don’t want to, or if your boss allows you, but you’re also leaving out a large part of your market.
Since you’re working one on one with clients a lot of times for private lessons, you have a lot more flexibility with how you structure your work day. While only a few groups and drills are set in stone, most of your commitments are set on your terms and what works for your client.
The Physical Stresses on Your Body
The majority of jobs require you to work about 40 hours a week. Coaching on the other hand can become very physically demanding on your body once you hit 30-36 hours on court. There are some who do coach up to 40 hours a week, but this can be very tolling on your body if you don’t take good care of yourself. Long days can lead to many hours being on foot so make sure you take care of them by getting specialized insoles, stretching and the occasional massage.
The Motivation to Workout for Yourself can Diminish
Since you’re spending so much time on court, doing physical activity, it can become difficult to find that extra energy and motivation to go to the gym or for a run to work on your own body. An unpredictable schedule with odd times doesn’t really help with setting a workout routine. Typically mornings or nights become your best bet depending on what time of day you prefer.
Responsibility and Accountability
When you’re coaching players that compete, their performance or lack thereof reflects to some degree the influence you have had on their game; technically, strategically and mentally. Their wins become your wins and their losses are your losses as well. To understand and effectively communicate the short term and the long term effects of any changes to their game is a part of being an effective coach.
Depending on the type of clients you have, you require a varying level of patience in your teaching process. If you’re working with kids you require a good amount of patience and must keep all communication brief and to the point. For teenagers you need a great amount of patience! This will go a long way with them and these more difficult years become crucial to their success. Adults sometimes can be the easiest and sometimes can be the most difficult! But most of the time they’re keen learners and want to make the most of their time with you.
Mentorship and Guidance
This is probably the most important and complex part of being a coaching professional. For those students who compete at a high level, mentorship and guidance is a huge part of their success. These intangible principles are not only useful for their career as a tennis player but also in life. The wisdom passed on to your students are based mainly on personal experience and cannot be taught through a coaching certification process. This is what sets apart good coaches from bad coaches.
A little bit about me and my background
Prior to my coaching career, I played professionally for a couple of years and won several international titles across the world. As a junior player, I was ranked 1 in India and reached a high of top 200 in the world, qualifying me to participate in the Australian Open of 2012. After my ITF career, I came to the US on a full tennis scholarship and played all four years on a D1 team.