Making the Best Of A Bad Situation
A veteran coach and teaching pro used the time she was out of a job to expand her career, and her opportunities.
By Holly Chomyn
In our struggling economy, I recently found myself out of a job due to program cuts. Many other teaching pros were losing their jobs as well. The job market was tight and I knew it would take several months to find another job. It can be a depressing time if you let negative thoughts get into your mind. Sometimes things happen that are out of your control and all you can do is try to stay positive. I would like to share with you three tips that helped me survive the months that I was not working.
My first goal was to do something every day that would further my career in the long run. Since I wasn’t working, I had time to write articles that I had declined in the past. I went to USPTA conventions and meetings that were usually scheduled at a difficult time for me to attend. After a lengthy application and evaluation process, I was selected to attend the weeklong USTA High Performance Program in Carson, Calif. I would not have considered this program in the past because of the time commitment. However, it proved to be very informative. I gained a lot of confidence in my abilities and it opened up some doors for the future.
During my “down time” I also had a chance to watch some of my tournament-level students compete in USTA tournaments. Watching players actually compete in a match gives a teaching pro great insight into the player’s mental and emotional capacity. Most pros work on stroke production, but the mental side is equally important. I watched as my players tried to navigate through the ups and downs of match play. I learned that as teachers, we also need to focus on error management skills and controlling emotions as adversity comes and goes. Most of the matches turned out to be roller-coaster rides of emotions and momentum swings. Being there to witness what happens in a match allows me to really identify more specific needs of my student.
In addition to watching my players play, I played in several tournaments myself. I believe if you put yourself in the same situation as your students, you are better able to relate to how they feel. How many teaching pros try to give advice to students on tournament play and they have never played in a tournament themselves? I also had an opportunity to help with two national tournaments and learn the ins and outs of running a big event.
I also spent some time working for the public parks in a low-cost tennis program. The environment and expectations are certainly different from those of a private country club or a collegiate team. Gaining experience working with large groups is also valuable. Everything you do in the industry will add knowledge and experience to your repertoire.
The second goal is to do one activity that you enjoy every day. This could be exercising, reading a book, watching a movie, or calling friends who you have not spoken to recently. It is important to do something that makes you happy even if it is for a short time. In my case, I did the above activities plus I volunteered to walk dogs for the local SPCA. Volunteering will keep your mind off of your troubles and allow you to concentrate on others who are less fortunate.
The third tip is to stay or get into shape. It is easier to stay in shape than to lose your fitness and try to get back in shape when you start a new job. This will also help avoid injuries. If you are not in shape, now you no longer have an excuse. Even if you cannot afford a gym, you can still stretch every day along with an abs workout, push-ups, Pilates, and some free weights. Exercising will also make you feel better by relieving stress and releasing endorphins.
The hours of your day will be filled if you do these three activities every day. More importantly, it will keep you physically, mentally, and socially engaged instead of sitting around feeling depressed. These tips will give you a goal to focus on every day. I found that with the extra time to do other tennis activities, I filled out my resume and gained experience in areas that I had not worked before. In the end, my time off helped me expand my career.
See all articles by Holly Chomyn
About the Author
Holly Chomyn is a Master Professional with the USPTA, the highest professional rating in the organization. She has coached USTA and ALTA teams, USTA Junior Zonal teams and been a USTA High Performance coach. She also has coached the men's and women's teams at the University of Delaware for 12 years.