You want to learn tennis or improve your game but you’re uncertain how to find a great tennis coach. Or maybe you want your child to learn tennis and you want to be sure to find the right instructor. It can be a challenge if you don’t know what to look for. We’re going to shed some light on the best ways to find the right tennis coach for you or your child.
One of the best ways to find a great tennis coach is through a recommendation from a family member, friend or acquaintance. Next would be using the power of the Internet to locate a competent coach in your area. The third way would be to talk with tennis centers and academies in your region, as many have coaches on their staff. Other factors are important too.
When considering a coach, we should look at their coaching resume: how long have they been teaching, what are their credentials/qualifications, can the coach play well, do they use tools and video, and is the coach personable and patient?
From my perspective, it seems there are two distinct challenges in finding a great coach.
- One is knowing where to find this coach.
- The other is knowing if he or she is competent and can effectively teach.
I put together this post to answer these questions definitively for you. Once you find the right coach, you can really accelerate your progress on the court. But if you choose the wrong coach, it can cost you a lot of money, waste your time and you won’t make much improvement. By reading and applying the information in this post, I’m confident you will avoid such a fate.
The second challenge is where to find a good tennis coach. This part is a lot easier. If you live in a moderately populated area, tennis coaches are abundant. It’s finding the right one that’s the tricky part.
What Qualifications Should A Good Tennis Coach Possess?
When considering a tennis coach you’ll want to know the answers to some important questions. Listed below are the most important questions to ask a new coach before hiring them. The answers to these questions might be in the “About Me” page on their website but it’s always good to ask in person or on the phone as well.
- Are you USPTA certified? If not, are you certified by any other tennis body? If they answer “yes” to any of these questions, ask them how long. If the answer is “no” ask them how long they have been coaching tennis.
- What age range have you worked with? Are you currently coaching kids/people in this age range?
- What level of player have you worked with previously? What is the highest level player you have coached (for example, club level, high school, college, semi-pro, pro).
- What level of player are you? Ask the coach what’s the highest level of play they achieved in their lifetime. Some might say they were a decorated junior player while others played college tennis and some played semi-professionally.
- What is your rate per half hour and per hour? Do you offer discounts for lessons paid in advance or packages (a number of lessons paid in advance). Do you offer group rates?
- What is your availability?
- Where will the lessons be given?
- Will I need to pay for court time as well (if at a different court than your own)?
You can gain a good sense of a coach’s credentials and teaching experience from their answers. But the coach’s personality, teaching style and compatibility with your game are just as important.
While its true that some of the best coaches in sports were people who never excelled at the sport they chose to coach, in tennis it’s slightly different: You’ll want your coach to be an excellent player so he or she can demonstrate technique and rally with you.
Can The Tennis Coach Play?
I would never recommend anyone receive coaching from someone lower than a 4.5 level player. This is because a coach needs to have a basic command of all the tennis strokes to effectively teach. If the coach cannot demonstrate basic technique, he or she should not be coaching tennis.
Trust your first impressions when assessing the coach. Does it look like he or she can play tennis? Are they in shape? Does their form look smooth and natural? If the answers are all “yes” then you’re very close to finding the perfect coach for you or your child.
Keep in mind that most tennis coaches have never played professional tennis. Still, such coaches can be great ones, especially if they have solid fundamentals and are USPTA certified. If a coach has patience, makes the lessons fun and has many creative ways to teach, then give them strong consideration. Pricing and availability may be the only other factors stopping you from hiring the coach at this point. We’ll touch more on this soon.
Watch A Lesson Or Request An Intro Lesson
If you are still uncertain about hiring the coach, ask to see 10 minutes of them coaching another client. If they allow you to watch, take note of how the coach interacts with the student. Does he or she use teaching props? How effective is he or she in the time you spend watching? Does the coach thoroughly explain things or is he or she silent the whole time? While 10 minutes won’t give you a perfect assessment of the coach, it will give you some idea.
If you cannot watch an intro lesson, ask if you can be given one. Intro lessons are typically 10-15 minutes long and most coaches offer them free of charge. Additionally, the coach may hold clinics where several people or more are instructed at once. You may be able to watch or participate in one of these clinics at no charge. This is a better way to get an idea of the coach’s style than only watching.
The same can be said for children. See if they can participate in an intro lesson or group clinic. It’s important to see how your child interacts with the coach. At the end of the lesson, ask your child if they like the coach.
Tennis coaches are people too, and they all have their own personalities and unique quirks. What makes a good tennis coach is the ability to work with people at all levels and ages. Some people have physical limitations so lessons should be based around the age and abilities of the person. A good coach is not going to teach an able-bodied 15-year-old boy the same way he would a 70-year-old man looking to learn tennis.
A good coach can also spot the flaws in your game. He or she will then point them out, demonstrate the correct technique and then have you practice without the ball. Once you gain a sense of the technique, the coach will use progressions to build up your muscle memory. Ultimately this allows you to learn and use correct technique. A good coach will also use any tool at their disposal to help a player improve.
A Word On Teaching Tools and Video
To me, the best tennis coaches are the ones using teaching tools and video in their lessons. It doesn’t matter so much if the coach creates the teaching tool or buys it. What matters is that the tools work. Many teaching tools are sold online and can help players improve fast. Such examples are serving aids, hitting aids and ball machines. I have some recommendations for tools I have used with success on my Recommended Gear page.
I personally incorporate video in my lessons; I feel it’s a great tool for instructing. by filming the student and playing oit back for them to review, I can point out things that I never could without it. My clients get a totally different perspective when they see themselves on screen. If a coach uses both tools and video, they are most likely very serious about improving their clients’ game. This type of coach is worth considering.
How Much Does A Good Tennis Coach Charge?
A common question asked by people hiring a tennis coach for the first time is, “How much does it cost for a one hour tennis lesson?” There is no set fee. It depends on many factors, such as location, prestige and experience of the coach, the time of the year, and whether the lessons are group or individual. To give you a general answer, tennis lessons will range from a low of around $30 up to $100+ per hour.
I personally charge $40-$50 for a lesson if the client comes to my courts. Again, the price depends on certain factors. I’ll touch on each briefly here.
- Location will matter. If you live in an expensive city like New York or London, expect to pay more than living in a rural area. And if you take lessons at an academy or tennis center, expect to pay more for lessons than from a coach working alone.
- The prestige of the coach matters too. If you work with a world-renowned coach, expect to pay a lot more ($100+ per hour) than a regular coach ($40-$50 per hour). Some coaches are former professional players with great pedigrees and years of experience. These coaches will charge more too. In my area they typically charge $60-$80 per hour for a lesson.
- Seasonality can affect the rate. During the peak season of the year (winter in the southern climates and summer in the northern climates), prices can increase by as much as 50%. This is due to more people wanting lessons during the peak season.
If private lessons seem like an extravagance, consider group lessons–a lot of value can be had in this way too. If you and a friend want to learn tennis, both of you can learn at almost half the rate of private lessons. Often beginners can learn just as effectively in a group lesson of two or three people. The coach will be focusing primarily on basics anyway, so the two or three of you may benefit by learning together.
The next most affordable coaching classes are clinics. In clinics, you may get a few tips, but don’t expect a lot of one-on-one time. Clinics are mostly given to three or more people and focus on tennis drills and conditioning, rather than learning stroke mechanics. Still, clinics can be a good place to improve your game for a fraction of the cost of private lessons.
Perhaps the most inexpensive way to hire a coach is online. Some coaches have online courses that teach you all the strokes of tennis – from the most basic level up to advanced technique. In some of these courses, you can send in video of yourself and receive back feedback of your play. This can be a great resort if you do not have the time or money to devote to a personal coach.
Ask Around For Recommendations
Now that you know what to look for in a good coach, how do you find one? Recommendations are the easiest way. As a tennis coach myself, some of my best students have come via recommendations. I like recommendations because you can ask people specific questions about their lessons and they’ll usually give you honest answers.
If you know someone who plays tennis, ask them if they can recommend a good coach. Ideally, they will have taken lessons with that coach as well. If nobody can recommend a tennis coach to you, the Internet may be your best bet. Nowadays people are doing everything online, so you may as well benefit from these advances in technology. In the last few years, many websites have popped up that are devoted to matching coaches and players for tennis lessons. I’ll go through the ones I think are worthwhile.
Facebook Groups – Search “tennis” on Facebook and you’ll find groups all over the world with people who will be glad to help you. Ask them something like: “I’m considering learning tennis. Can anyone recommend a great tennis coach near me?” You may be surprised how many people respond with a recommendation for a coach.
Mytennislessons.com – This is a great site to find a coach in your area. The level of coaching expertise varies widely, as do the rates, which are all posted under each coach. Read the short bio of the coaches and their student reviews. You can book one lesson or a package of lessons directly through the website, which handles the money transactions as well.
USPTA.com – On this site you can find a certified USPTA coach in your area. This site is simply a resource that will give you the name and phone number of the closest teaching pros to you. No other information about the coaches is offered and you’ll need to contact them directly to find out rates and book lessons.
Findtennislessons.com – Very similar to mytennislessons.com. If you don’t see a coach you like on mytennislessons.com or uspta.com, try this one.
Playyourcourt.com – Another site similar to mytennislessons.com and findtennislessons.com. This is a less popular site, but worth giving a try to as well.
Craigslist.org – Yup, I said it – craigslist. There is a different site for each city. If you go to the “lessons” or “activities” categories in your city and type in “tennis” you’ll likely find tennis coaches advertising. I advertise on craigslist and found some of my best clients on it, so I must recommend it.
Local Tennis Centers and Academies
If you play at a local tennis club, often there is a club pro who gives lessons. Talk to the club pro and ask the questions I listed earlier in this post.
If you don’t play at a local tennis club, look up the ones near you and call to inquire about coaching. Often, but not all the time, the teaching pros at clubs are good coaches, as they have a lot of experience and work with many clients. You can learn at the club, which is great, but the main drawback is most tennis centers charge more than coaches who teach on their own. Availability may be limited as well.
If you are really looking to accelerate your game or that of your child, tennis academies are your best bet. They’re really the crème-de-la-crème of places to learn – but mostly for children and teens. Almost all academies offer awesome programs for kids and have, at the least, several very experienced coaches on hand. Academies are a great choice as kids are in a learning-friendly environment with a proven system that works. Here kids will receive proper coaching, play against other kids their age/level, and work with different coaches on technique and conditioning.
Some of these academies have produced the world’s greatest players. Where I live in Florida, there exist over a dozen great tennis academies. The most famous of them are Nick Bollettieri-Img Academy, Everet Tennis Academy, and the Rick Macci Tennis Academy. Any of these venues will vastly improve your child’s tennis game. Most academies also have classes for adults. The main drawback of academies is the price. Unless you’re willing to shell out $100+ per hour, then this may not be the choice for you. If you are interested, you can easily search for academies in your area via google. If you live in a rural area, you may need to travel quite a distance to find the closest academy. On the flip side, few individual coaches can match the success of a good academy.
Finding the perfect coach for you shouldn’t be difficult. Unless you receive a recommendation, it will take just a bit of research. You now have all of the resources you need to find that ideal instructor. I would recommend that you don’t pay for a “package” of lessons until you take at least one or two lessons with an instructor. See if they are worth it before committing to a series of lessons.
If you find a coach and take lessons, monitor your progress from the time you start. If you are not making progress after 3-4 lessons, you’re either not putting into practice what you learned, or you may need to find a new coach. Don’t be afraid to switch coaches if you must.
The main point of hiring a coach is to learn tennis and progress your game. I’m confident that if you use the rules of thumb outlined in this post, you’ll be able to find a coach who’s just right for you. Good luck and drop us a comment if you have any questions!