The Technician, The Manager and The Entrepreneur
The various roles of a Tennis Coach
Many tennis coaches have had those moments where someone you meet, perhaps for the first time, responds to what you do for a job with “Wow tennis coaching. It must be fun to be outdoors doing something you love. So what else do you do with your time?”
The role of a tennis coach/business can be all encompassing
Many of us have done 7 days a week of coaching which includes on court, administration, marketing and promotion, junior pennants, accounts, restrings, a small retail store, school visits, working on Word or PowerPoint to create flyers, website, PR, Google, social media, advertising, letters along with maintaining healthy relationships with your key stakeholders be it a club, facility or director and any personal or family relationships.
3 roles of a business – Technician, Manager and Entrepreneur
Technician – works in the present, doing the service or job
As tennis coaches if we spend all our time on court coaching 40 hours in what Michael Gerber terms the ‘technician’. We do earn more money in the short term but not in the long term. As a technician, the philosophy is normally “if you want something done properly, then you’ve got to do it yourself”. This is the tennis coach/teacher in you who is integral to the whole organisation. The technician however will remain doing 40 hours plus for many years without investing in the growth of the company, training of staff and development of programs. In our industry the technician will also get a very sore body!
Famous Technician – Steve Wozniak from Apple
Manager – works in the past, craves order
As tennis coaches we also have a manager role by making sure everything is in order and that everything is in control. A manager needs to ensure court bookings and enrolments are in order along with many other important tasks which will often include staff. A manager should be in charge of a tennis management computer system. At Scarborough Tennis Academy we use InTennis which is fantastic software program for your business. The manager role is very important to run the business but management is less about growth and finding more clients but more on maintaining perfect order in the chaos.
Famous Manager – Jack Welch from General Electric
Entrepreneur – works in the future, craves control
The entrepreneur is the dreamer who spends time creating new products and innovating current programs in the hope to expand the business and the entrepreneur likes to explore opportunities and their time is spent thinking of ways to leverage the business with host/beneficiary relationships with businesses, schools and communities, new programs and other strategic planning. An entrepreneur can be a terrible manager and distracted technician so many of these plans will crumble if they are not systemised.
Famous Entrepreneur – Richard Branson from Virgin
Example – Cardio Tennis or new program introduction
The entrepreneur may explore new opportunities such as cardio tennis or a different new program. They will research the program, competitors, other industries along with conduct market research with current clients and then may decide to bring the program in. The entrepreneur and the manager talk logistics of when to do it, who can do it, when do we advertise, how do we educate others and any changes to website and flyers needed to made and updated. Any new agreed information is documented to make the new program run efficiently moving forwards. The technician receives any training/system information about cardio tennis to ensure a consistent and high quality service.
We can’t do all three roles all the time
There isn’t enough time in the week to do all three roles. You need to assess where your strengths are and also where the strengths of your staff are. If you are a natural technician then you need to team with someone who is skilled in management or you need to network and brainstorm with others who can bring strategic entrepreneurial skills. If you prefer the management side then you need to find a team of technicians along with finding someone entrepreneurial to help with innovations and bigger picture planning. An entrepreneurial personality needs to team with a manager who can not only “plan the work” but also “work the plan” along with bring in skilled technicians to do the oncourt coaching.
Various roles within a tennis business
You can delegate or do these roles yourself. If delegating consider offering a commission on the sale or if it’s more an administrative task then agree on an rate for regular work to be done. This list can be expanded or contracted depending on business.
- Operations Manager
- Strategic planning, innovations
- High Performance Coach
- Adult and Cardio Tennis Coach
- Hot Shots Coach
- Restringing and Pro Shop manager
- Community Tennis Coach
- Advertising, Marketing and PR
- Facility Manager
- Club Liason Manager
- Various other roles
Important to still remain a technician
As the technician (tennis coach) you are at the front line of the business and can see what works, what doesn’t and really get a feel for what your customers experience and desire in their programs. No matter how well delegated your business becomes I believe as tennis coaches we need to remain on court to some degree. After all this is what we are passionate about and what led us into a tennis business in the first place. I personally choose to remain involved as a Technician for 15 – 20 hours per week whilst spending time in the Entrepreneur space looking at ways to improve and outside the square thinking. Each person has their unique strengths to suit each of these areas. If you can team up with others who complement your strengths then you will give yourself the best chance of success.
Talent Development Coach and Club Professional – WA
Scarborough Tennis Academy – www.scarboroughtennis.com.au
Aussie Tennis Getaways – www.aussietennisgetaways.com.au
You can connect with Rick Willsmore on Linkedin