Some parents assume that switching coaches means a different personality with similar resources and motives. But often I’m forced to re-train players who are being trained at other clubs or by other coaches. Some of these “pros” aren’t certified to even teach tennis. Technically, they’re not pros at all, but they charge pro rates and call themselves “pros.”
An eye-opening conversations I have with parents is when I honestly tell them I was a horrible, ignorant coach in the beginning of my tennis teaching career. My qualifications for teaching back then were simple: that I played varsity tennis for a conference-winning team. In reality, I knew very little about technical training and coaching players. In my 30s I took the time to get education through a USPTA certification with the help of some professional coaches.
What many do not fully understand is one simple fact. If your coach played tennis at high school or collegiate levels doesn’t mean they meet the qualifications of knowledgeable coach. Make sure they have a certification through the USPTA. The USTA will be forcing this in the next year to strengthen the foundation of American junior tennis.
These days many kids come to my academy for the first time. They don’t even know proper grips. This is after their parents had spent countless dollars with other teachers or clubs. As a result, these players often form really bad habits. Other pros conveniently skipped basic fundamentals. Consequently, I spend more time correcting bad muscle memory in the beginning than anything else.
So “professionally” trained players arrive at my academy holding the racquet the wrong way. This handicaps players immensely. Have you ever considered running a marathon with your shoe strings untied, or, worse, tied together? These players face similar challenges.
Upgrading American Tennis Instruction
The USTA is now finally taking some action to curtail the lack of proper education given by tennis teachers. It has formed an accreditation with the USPTA. Tennis clubs (with 4+ courts) must only hire certified USPTA professionals, per this compliance. Otherwise their good standing with the USTA will be broken. These clubs in violation won’t be able to hold USTA-sanctioned events. You can read this official press release on the USPTA site here.
Why USPTA Certification Matters
Our academy players and families invest in the teachings of a USPTA-certified professional. It is a game-changer. Each year, I’ve devoted hundreds of hours in furthering my education and knowledge in the field of training tennis players. I owe that to the families who pay me. I owe that to the players who trust me to coach them. There is no simple online course to pass when it comes to being a USPTA-certified professional. For instance, rigorous testing and requirements must be passed. USPTA requires coaches to meet continuing education credits. On-court mentorship and testing is needed before you hold that USPTA pro status.
Visit this link to find out if your coach is USPTA-certified:
Around this area, it’s shocking that there are only 2 certified professionals within 20 miles. Thirty-one within 50 miles. Yet many still ask why the quality of tennis in our area is way behind other locations. The lack of quality professional training is one of these reasons. Clubs beings forced to hire educated coaches will hopefully soon change this.
To find out more about our qualifications, click HERE.
Shane Staley is the founder of Staley Tennis and a USPTA-certified trainer, Accredited Professional Coach and instructor.