Tennis Industry magazine

 

Career Enhancement: Take Advantage of Your Skills

Looking for extra income? If you’re a club pro, consider adding a school or college tennis coaching position.

By Bruce Knittle

With this uncertain economic environment, many people—including tennis teaching pros at clubs and facilities—are seeking additional income, aside from their regular employment. Because of expanding competition and the tightening of discretionary spending, pros can be left scrambling to meet their expenses.

A natural fit for extra income, often overlooked by the club pro, is to be employed as a college or high school coach. Most of these jobs are part time, with hours that may mesh well with a pro’s current job. (Full-time positions at colleges are rare—mainly at some Division 1 schools.) Athletic directors, who usually do not come from a tennis background, frequently will look at tennis clubs to fill the position for a qualified, knowledgeable coach.

At first glance, it may seem that the pay for these part-time positions are not competitive and the job might not be worth the commitment. Tennis often is thought of as a minor sport at many schools, so the coaches are paid accordingly. But despite the low pay and frequent ambivalence toward tennis, there can be many positives for a pro as a head tennis coach, both financially and career-wise.

First, you can generate extra income from racquet stringing and pro shop sales, including supplying team uniforms. As coach, you’d have 10 to 12 team members who would be happy to have their racquet maintenance handled by a trusted mentor. (Also, if you’re at a middle or high school and run a No-Cut tennis program, you could have dozens of potential customers for your goods and services.) At colleges, budgets often will include money for these items, therefore very little funds need to come out of the players’ pockets.

Camps, Clinics, Lessons, Events

By becoming involved with the school, other revenue-generation opportunities will pop up. You might have the chance to direct tennis camps for kids and adults at the school, which could bring in significant income and be an ongoing annual program. When I first started my summer tennis camp at a college, enrollment was relatively small. But it continued to grow significantly each year. If you are already working as a coach at the school, work out a deal with the athletic director to run tennis camps.

Giving clinics and private lessons on school courts is another benefit of working there. Again, arrangements need to be worked out with the institution, but offering various types of programs can be a valuable source of income. With discounts offered to students and staff, plus the convenience of location, these lessons should go over well. You will be known as the “go to” person for tennis in the school or college community.

The school might even ask the coach to run tennis classes to be included in their curriculum. This could be part of the phys ed department or another area. Some colleges might even want the coach to run an intramural tennis program.

Tournaments and other competitive events can also be offered on the school courts to bring in revenue for the pro and the school. Although the proceeds might not be significant, players will be using the facilities, and perhaps be customers for other tennis programs at the school.

Benefits for Club and School

Your presence at the school will give tennis higher visibility, which means many school participants may end up taking lessons or playing in leagues at your club or facility. So you could end up bringing in new members and exposing the club to a new market. Also, you might consider running a clinic for high school teams at the club. Included could be not only your team, but other local teams, with possibly free practice time as well.

Another advantage of working with school teams is that you may have available to you potential instructors for camps, lessons and other programs. Student-athletes may be looking for part-time employment and may be happy to work in a field in which they have considerable knowledge. (But as a coach, be aware of all NCAA and high school guidelines regarding hiring student-athletes.)

But perhaps the greatest benefit for a teaching pro who becomes a school coach is the enhanced reputation and credibility the position provides. By working in the school as their coach, your name recognition will increase substantially. Furthermore, if your teams are successful, your prominence will escalate as both a coach and a pro. The more your good name gets out there, the greater the possibilities of future opportunities.

So, what might at first seem to be just a little extra income for a teaching pro could very well turn into something much more, both financially and personally. Also, you might find you enjoy coaching youngsters and being a positive influence on their lives and tennis careers. Both jobs complement each other, and in this difficult economy, that is something rare indeed.

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About the Author

Bruce Knittle is president of the sports consulting firm Knittle Sports Solutions. A former sports camp owner, he also was a college head coach and directed sports programs for many years. He can be reached at bknittle@optonline.net.

 

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