From Club Coach to Director of Coaching
In Australia at least, most coaching businesses are connected with a local club. The club advertises for a tennis professional to become contracted as their club coach. This will normally give the exclusive coaching rights at the club to the tennis coach. Depending on the size, location and success of the current club, the coach agreement could simply be the opportunity to use the courts to conduct lessons, in exchange for helping build members for the club. Larger facilities involve commercial leases where the coach takes on the responsibility of multiple courts but in return pays the club both financially and also often with the delivery of tennis services, particularly in the junior club. The Club Coach drives the junior club membership and will also drive a smaller % of adult members who are onboarded to the club through the coaching programs or through the marketing channels of the coaching business.
The Club Coach is only one person and can only build their clientele so much before scheduling becomes an issue. Peak coaching hours are between 4pm-8pm weekdays and a Saturday or Sunday morning. There are further opportunities with before work/school and during the day hours but those peak coaching hours are mostly all within 25 hours per week. So what happens when the coach outgrows their solo coaching business ?
Most will look towards an assistant coach or two to help them out with the larger groups and to take on some very basic hotshots private sessions. At some point though through further growth of the program, the assistant coaches, who are perhaps at University, are not available for enough hours or simply not experienced enough to take on further coaching responsibilities.
From Club Coach to Director of Coaching
So then the Club Coach needs to really become a Director of Coaching and think strategically. Who can be hired that has the right experience and can complement the coaching program? They will need to fit in with your values and culture but can also bring their own strength to the program which may attract even more additional clients. This exciting appointment does however bring its own pressures with the responsibility of meeting a salary each week for your full time coach. Rain, hail, shine or pandemic, there needs to be enough hours in the week to keep the full time coach paid and also keep the business sustainable.
As a program grows even further, the Director of Coaching needs to ensure that the mix of fulltime coaches and part time coaches is right. On one hand the expansion of fulltime coaches enables the business and program to really blossom, on the other hand, the responsibility of meeting those lesson targets can add significant pressure, particularly in the winter season.
For very small clubs, a Club Coach by themselves may be all that is needed. As long as the club coach is happy to be doing all the lessons, then a program of up to 100 coaching clients could still be achieved. As an estimate, at least 25% of these clients will become junior club players and therefore club membership can be expected to be at least 25 junior members.
At a larger club program of 200 clients, the expansion of the coaching team is a must to meet demand. This could be through the hire of another fulltime coach or by using a team of assistant coaches. Membership conversion as an estimate will be at least 50 junior members.
For those programs who have built up to have between 200 and 500 clients, will require at least 1, 2 or 3 other fulltime coaches whilst still maintaining at team of assistant coaches. This is where the role of Director of Coaching becomes even more important and by leveraging your coaches strengths you can allocate them to be in charge of certain areas such as adult programs, hot shots, performance squads etc. You can also add other off-court tasks to their role such as administration, restringing, pro shop sales, marketing and more. A coaching list of over 400 should again as an estimate, convert over 100 junior members.
So even though Clubs still put out their tender looking for a Club Coach, what they really are looking for is a Director of Coaching. Someone who can be responsible for growing the program and the coaching team. Once the program has grown it’s highly unlikely that the Club Coach will be taking little Jimmy’s first Hotshots lesson but they are still responsible for the quality of the lesson. As the program grows, so does the club membership so it’s in the clubs best interest to see a thriving coaching program. In Australia in these club/coach arrangements, the club benefits from the growth without any risk whereas the Club Coach (business owner) takes on the financial risk (with potential financial gain) of employing coaches to expand their program. In the USA and other parts of the world its often a different model where the clubs will directly employ a salaried Director of Tennis to oversee this growth.
Director of Tennis