Your Serve: How Cardio Tennis Contributes to the Tennis Industry
By Ted Murray
In 2005 the TIA, with support from the USTA, launched Cardio Tennis. The program was driven by former TIA president Jim Baugh, using research from the TIA, who anticipated the growth in fitness activities in the U.S. and figured out a way the tennis industry can capture that business while growing frequent players.
Well, here we are, just nine years later, and independent research shows 1.5 million people take part in Cardio Tennis. Think about that… what program in tennis has ever had that kind of growth in that short a time? That’s nearly twice the number of people who are USTA members, and nearly three times the number of USTA League players!
The TIA is charged with managing Cardio Tennis and, despite very limited resources, has done a great job. In fact, the national governing bodies of tennis in other countries have taken notice — for instance, Tennis Australia is using CT as a cornerstone to grow participation, and the LTA in Great Britain has embraced the program.
In the U.S., the initial public relations push was very successful in getting consumers aware, and while the level has not been maintained, Cardio Tennis has already proven itself as a viable platform to increase tennis participation. Now it’s time for an all-out push as other health and fitness activities continue to outpace traditional sports.
We need to once again allocate resources for a major consumer promotional effort. We should be using Cardio Tennis to get more players of all ages on court. In fact, I believe Cardio Tennis can solve most, if not all, of the challenges we have in this industry.
Maybe part of the problem is that many of the benefits Cardio Tennis brings to our industry are subtle and thus aren’t always recognized or acknowledged. Maybe this will help:
Cardio Tennis brings new players to the game and creates more frequent players: This should be the goal of every program, individual, organization and company in the industry. I would guess that half of all CT players are either beginners or former players attracted to its unique atmosphere.
Understanding of the fitness benefits of tennis: Cardio Tennis positions tennis as a safe, fun and functional fitness program. Its stress on a proper warm-up, a cardio segment that emphasizes monitoring the heart rate to ensure the quality of the workout, and a cool-down to speed recovery shows our industry embraces current fitness protocols. And now TRX Cardio Tennis takes this fitness focus to a new level.
Creating more flexibility and focus in a fun format: Music adds a tremendous element of fun and energy. Playing a wide variety of games enables players to become much more practical and effective in all parts of the game. Since many games focus on doubles, net play improves. With the non-stop action, players learn to let go of mistakes. Cardio Tennis makes using orange and red Cardio balls cool. The Cardio Tennis Triples Tournament is a fantastic example of a new, fun competitive format that also maximizes the number of people on the court.
Cardio Tennis gains media attention: CT is a natural for media exposure, not just in tennis but also in the fitness marketplace.
Cardio Tennis upgrades the skills of tennis professionals: In nine years, nearly 500 training courses have been held, training about 5,000 coaches. Besides preparing them to run an exciting CT class, it trains coaches on how to handle large groups and keep players engaged, as well as how to motivate and inspire participants. Skills such as feeding have been upgraded thanks to CT.
Cardio Tennis brings more money into all parts of the industry: CT is designed to accommodate eight players on the court, which can potentially double the revenue of a lesson program. More players also mean more sales of all tennis-related products.
Theses are just a few of the benefits that Cardio Tennis brings. All of us in the industry owe a big thanks to Jim Baugh and his vision, the TIA’s ongoing support, and Michele Krause and her TIA Global Cardio Tennis Team for their dedication to continuing to train coaches and promote the growth of Cardio Tennis.
But now, it’s time to take off the gloves and get the entire industry to help push Cardio Tennis as a key component for growing participation in this country.
Ted Murray currently is the executive director of the Tennis Legacy Fund, a nonprofit promoting sustainability in the tennis industry. His 40-year career in tennis includes 20 years as a founding member of Peter Burwash International, owning a tennis and fitness club in Florida, coaching tour players, and running facilities around the world.
We welcome your opinions. Please email comments to TI@racquetTECH.com.