The rain dance
As a tennis coach your biggest obstacle (indoor courts excluded) may just be the weather. Of course this will depend where you live, what part of the year it is and what type of surface you play on.
As a club professional or Academy owner you need to come up with a weather policy and be consistent with your application. There is a range of ways different tennis programs will handle this. You have your extremes: those who will run it at all costs and cram kids under a verandah doing racquet taps while asking questions about who won Wimbledon last year to those either lazy or perhaps safety conscious who cancel the entire shift at the first sign of wet courts , forecast rain or inclement weather.
Our policy at Scarborough Tennis Academy
By using a combination of weather radars, hourly forecasts and good old fashioned looking outside, we have now settled on the following policy:
- Hotshots Tennis (3 to 13 year olds)
If the lesson is officially cancelled, parents receive a system text message (intennis) 30 min prior to the lesson start time explaining the lesson is cancelled and a make up lesson time will be emailed. If they don’t receive the message then the lesson is going ahead. Result = Make up lesson
- Squad Tennis and Adult Tennis (7 to 18 year olds)
If the lesson is officially cancelled parents receive a system text message (intennis) 30 min prior to the lesson start time explaining the lesson is cancelled and a credit will apply to their account. If they don’t receive the message then the lesson is going ahead. Result = Credit applied to account.
- Private Tennis Lessons
If the lesson is officially cancelled parents will receive a personal text message 30 min prior to the lesson from their private coach explaining the lesson is cancelled and a make up session or credit will apply. If the don’t receive the message then the lesson is going ahead. Result = Make up lesson or credit applied to account.
Preparing your court and planning your lesson
Once the decision has been made to run the lesson then coaches need to prepare the court the best way possible.
- Hardcourts must be swept
Take off the surface layer of water with a sweeper and remove all puddles on and around the court. This can avoid peoples shoes/socks getting soaked, balls not bouncing properly and getting trashed as well as increasing the safety and professionalism of the lesson.
- Balls and equipment considerations
Even when the courts are damp, this has a negative affect on the tennis balls. Using slightly less balls can be smart here and consider the types of activities and equipment that will work best on a slightly slippery surface. Again this can mitigated by making sure the court is well swept both on and around the court.
- Type of lesson
At the Hotshots stage you really can go ahead with little change (especially if court swept well) but in higher level private lessons, squad sessions and adult sessions you need to be mindful of their more explosive movements and speed of rally. Therefore consider doing more technique, serve, volleys or crosscourt rallying rather than risking injury with competitive all court rallies.
Make up Lessons
So where private lessons are arranged at a convenient time in the school term or in school holidays between the player and coach, our Hotshots group sessions have a specific make up lesson option:
Parents will receive an email with the 3 options for make up lessons:
- Sunday weather make up lesson
These have set times for each age group and run between 8am-11am. We will run it within 2 weeks of the cancelled lesson. Normally the closest Sunday but if rain is forecast we may push it to the following Sunday. This is only for those directly affected by a weather cancelled session and parents must book their child in for the make up lesson.
- 2 @ Master make up lessons
At the end of each 10 week school term we offer two master make up sessions run on a Saturday and a Sunday during the school holidays. The master make up sessions are there for anyone during the term who has either been affected by a weather cancellation (and could not make the weather make up session) or by anyone else who missed a session during the term (sick or absent) and want to book into the master make up sessions.
So this means for the Hotshots players they have three options when a lesson is cancelled and sometimes even a fourth option when we can squeeze them in to another class during the week. But we make it clear that this is not always possible depending on class sizes. We also make it clear that once the second master make up session is complete the term has ended and no credit can be carried across to the following term.
So some days can be very hard to make the right call and there are times we go ahead, get it wrong and get wet. If this happens then we make a decision on whether the rain is passing and we can get going again or if its settled and we have to cancel.
But at least having a firm policy everyone (staff, players and parents) know what to expect and how it works. Its a fair system balancing the different needs of safety for players, fair notice to parents and also opportunity for coaches to earn their part time or full time coaching income and players to play.
Director of Tennis