Your Serve: Getting Ahead of the Class
A grassroots tennis expert says partnering with local schools will grow your business and generate revenue.
By Jason Jamison
Want more kids and families in your programs? There is no better place to look than your local schools.
But, how do you go about getting permission to promote your programs? And how do you get kids and families excited about tennis and aware of what your facility has to offer?
The USTA has developed a Partner with Schools Handbook to help facility and program leaders understand how to make connections with schools, conduct fun demonstrations and events, and link kids and families to follow-up programs. This resource is available for free at usta.com/schoolshandbook.
In addition to tips and techniques for meeting with decision-makers, the handbook provides several options for creating interest for tennis on school grounds, including assemblies, lunchtime demos, class visits and festivals. There are a wide variety of games and activities, too, along with tips for conducting Kids’ Tennis Clubs and Play Days for school kids.
Do Your Homework
Before approaching school decision-makers, though, connect with your local USTA office to let them know of your interest in partnering with a local school or schools. They may have existing contacts and relationships that can benefit your facility, and they’ll have access to resources and support that can complement your outreach efforts. This often includes equipment discounts, program grants, training, curriculum and more.
Once you’ve made contact with your local USTA office, this recipe can help you get on a fast track for creating school and facility partnerships to grow your programs:
- Create a program flier for distribution at the schools.
- Get to know the targeted school administrators, teachers and personnel and promote the benefits of the program. You can do this in a number of ways, including attending PTO/PTA meetings; conducting an assembly or demo (with permission); offering to assist with P.E. classes; assisting with a USTA School Tennis Workshop. (usta.com/schools has more information on materials and resources available for conducting PE programs, Kids’ Tennis Clubs, and School Workshops).
- Organize a Play Event to kick off the program at your facility.
Around the country, many pros and youth program providers have created successful partnerships with schools and have grown their business, resulting in new members and customers for their facility and thousands of dollars in additional income.
PTR pro Mark Smith from Greenville, S.C., for example, targeted a school near his club in an effort to grow his junior program and gain new members. In working with just one school, he generated over $30,000 in additional income through lessons, clinics, pro shop sales, league teams and memberships.
“The USTA Schools program is a great vehicle for creating partnerships with local schools,” Smith told me.
USPTA pro Chris Michalowski of Traverse City, Mich., has been targeting schools in his community for many years. His school-based strategies have resulted in reaching thousands of kids through on-site schools programs that have generated significant revenue and brought new players into his facility.
I’ve benefitted from targeting schools, too. Prior to joining the USTA as the National Schools Program Manager in 2004, I worked with schools that connected to my youth development program. I conducted assemblies, class visits, school trainings, and taught lessons for schoolteachers to establish long-term relationships as a foundation for my programs.
With a little effort, you’ll find unlimited opportunities to transition kids from school-based programs to facilities. It’s good for the game, and it will be great for your bottom line!
PTR and USPTA professional Jason Jamison is a tennis industry consultant with over 25 years of experience with USTA and facility programs. He serves regularly as a trainer and presenter for conferences and workshops around the country. From 2004 through 2015, Jamison served as National Manager for School Tennis for the USTA. He and his team were responsible for quadrupling program participation and creating on-court and program delivery resources used throughout the industry. He can reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and through his website, coveringthecourt.net.
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