Junior Tennis Champion of the Year: Todd Dissly
By Kent Oswald
Todd Dissly, who supervises 14 park and recreation tennis programs for three Northern California cities for thousands of kids and adults, has moved from a self-described status as one of “the outcasts with funny tennis balls doing stuff people didn’t understand” to RSI’s 2012 Junior Tennis Champion of the Year. As USTA director of coach education and development Kirk Anderson notes, “Todd is one of our best recreational coaches, involved in 10 and Under Tennis and our training workshops. [He was] kind of a ringleader in getting things started in Northern California.”
Dissly’s philosophy as a teaching pro is “to reinvent yourself as a student of the game and take a step in a new direction.” The former No. 1 Norcal junior is a PTR trainer, USPTA Pro 1 and former professional of the year, certified USTA clinician, and QuickStart and RCW trainer, among other professional ertifications and honors.
He started incorporating the ideas of QuickStart Tennis into his lessons about 10 years ago and says early on he saw that the shorter courts and foam balls were bringing his younger students greater engagement with the game much earlier. “Most sports have a scaled-down version … it just made sense,” he says.
He brings the game to students at schools with no courts, setting up on four-square courts or wherever there is flat ground. “I saw early on that having new players hit with foam balls worked,” says Dissly. “It opened up my mind to a different way of how lessons should be delivered. Tennis shouldn’t just be for the most athletic kids. With this format, we’re seeing 80 percent return, and they’re bringing their friends.”
Tips for Success
- Don’t wing it. Work on lesson plans to make sure coaching time is organized.
- Create and promote a learning pathway.
- If you focus on student involvement, the achievement will follow.
- Keep exploring new ideas.
See all articles by Kent Oswald
About the Author
Kent Oswald is a contributor to TennisNow.com, producer at the JockBookReview.com and a former editor of Tennis Week magazine.