Youth Instruction: Hitting a Winner
The USTA’s 10-and-Under Workshops for coaches and teaching pros reach 100,000 participants.
By Ashley Marshall
The key to growth in any sport starts with young players — both attracting them and keeping them. It was with that in mind that the USTA launched a series of workshops in 2000 to help coaches working with entry-level players. The hope was that offering easily accessible workshops would increase the number of quality coaches and teaching pros working with novice and first-time players, who are more likely to play at local parks, CTAs and NJTLs.
This summer, the transformative program reaches a milestone, as the USTA welcomes its 100,000th coach to a live coach workshop.
“It’s less about teaching tennis and more about teaching children,” says USTA Director of Coaching Education Kirk Anderson. “If their first experience in tennis is good, they stay. But if that first experience is bad, we’re not going to get them back.”
Sixteen years ago, the USTA partnered with 28 of the best certified coaches and Master Professionals in America. The first training workshops were held in Hilton Head Island, S.C., the home of the PTR, and Houston, home of the USPTA. That first year, 23 workshops attracted 567 participants.
The program expanded each year, and has been rebranded several times — from Developmental Coaches Workshops to Recreational Coaches Workshops to QuickStart Workshops to its current name of 10-and-Under Workshops. But the feedback has remained consistent.
“We have an average feedback rating of 4.77 out of 5.0,” Anderson says. “The reason we’ve had so much success is because we have such good people conducting our workshops.”
Workshops are currently held in all 17 USTA sections. An average of 24 coaches attend each three-and-a-half-hour session, and since 2014, completion of one of these workshops is a prerequisite for USPTA and PTR certification. In recent years, online courses have been developed in partnership with the PTR, USPTA and USOC.
To keep on top of current trends and best practices, workshop materials are updated every other year, and some of the top minds in sports education and childhood development are invited to attend and speak.
“The USTA has moved the whole Coach Youth Tennis program to the next level with its top-of-the-line programming,” says Chris Snyder, the USOC’s director of coaching education. “The USOC is proud of the great work that USTA, PTR and USPTA have done by working together for the benefit of players and coaches everywhere.”
“We’ve pioneered a new way to teach players,” Anderson says. “We want kids to play to learn. We have them in small groups where they work on tactics first, then we teach the technique.”
Between the online classes and on-court workshops, coaches and staff have all the skills they need to run successful programs and events — and keep young players coming back for more.
For more on online and on-court workshops, visit CoachYouthTennis.com.
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