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How To Find A Tennis Professional That's Right For You
by: Scott Baxter @ PlayYourCourt.com

When selecting a tennis professional that's right for you there is a lot to be considered. Several aspects, including teaching experience, playing background, certifications, personality, and many other factors determine the quality of a tennis professional. When looking for a tennis professional that's right for you, don't settle, do your research.

When evaluating a tennis professional don't be fooled by an impressive playing background. Just because you had personal success in the game of tennis doesn't mean you're cut out to teach it. If you look at Darren Cahill and Brad Gilbert, two of the most successful coaches in the world of tennis today, you quickly realize that coaching success depends on more than playing experience alone. While a successful playing background generally indicates a sound knowledge of the game, an efficient tennis professional requires both understanding of the game and the ability to edify it.

Teaching, just like competing, gets better with practice. When searching for an instructor, look for one with experience. A professional who has an extensive teaching background and has worked with many different levels of players is typically more efficient in developing a player's game than a coach with a sparse teaching background. An instructor with a solid teaching background has seen and fixed different problems in many students' games and as a result has become familiar and efficient with fixing these problems when faced with them in the future.

A client taking from an instructor with a strong playing background but minimal teaching experience often experiences what I call "guinea pig syndrome." Good players with minimal teaching experience tend to use more of a trial and error procedure when fixing problems that can often leave the student feeling like a guinea pig in an experiment. Since the instructor is unfamiliar with certain problems in his clients' game, he uses trial and error to come up with a solution. This rudimentary form of teaching often leaves students confused and doubting their professional's credibility. Over time as the professional sees a broader range of problems and works through his trial and error procedure to fix them, he becomes more efficient in solving a variety of problems when faced with them again. In other words he learns and gains experience.

Fortunately there are some steps aspiring tennis professionals can take to expedite the learning process of how to be a more efficient instructor. The United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) is the world's oldest and largest association of tennis-teaching professionals. Their goal as affirmed by their mission statement is, "to elevate the standards of tennis-teaching professionals and coaches." As stated on their website the USPTA "offers unequalled opportunities for tennis-teaching professionals to improve their teaching skills and increase their business knowledge." A USPTA certification indicates that a professional has been trained to teach and that a well renowned organization is willing to not only endorse their teaching skills but to provide millions of dollars in on-court insurance to cover this professional. When a legitimate organization endorses and trusts a professional with the responsibility of teaching a safe and productive tennis lesson, it's a safe bet that you can too.

While a certification can tell you a lot about a professional it is also important to realize that a different skill level requires a different level of expertise. Don't waste your money on the top junior instructor on the east coast for lessons for your four year old. Beginners need more technique work which often times requires less knowledge than coaching an advanced tournament player. For younger children just starting out, personality and the ability to keep it fun might be more relevant than years of experience working with top ranked juniors. Again experience and success with the relevant skill level is what to look for when trying to identify the instructor that is right for your level of play.

Although a sound knowledge of the game, experience, and a certification are all parts of a successful resume, personality plays an equally important role in a tennis professional's success. The ability to identify with a client on a personal level is a skill that helps to break down the barriers of communication and makes it easier for the student to learn. An instructor that can put their client at ease in a fun and relaxed lesson environment is typically more successful in relaying instruction. Admittedly, this is a skill set that you may not be able to evaluate before your first lesson, but if you quickly realize there's no chemistry and it's affecting your learning progress then its time for a change.

There are many factors and qualifications that you should look for in your professional before booking that first lesson. A reasonable playing background, teaching experience, and certifications are things to look for that will help ensure you are satisfied with your tennis professional. With as many good professionals as there are out there, there's no excuse for dissatisfaction, don't settle, do your research.
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Scott Baxter is the Founder/ CEO of PlayYourCourt.com. PlayYourCourt.com provides tennis lessons where you want them. You choose the court we'll send the pro! Go to PlayYourCourt.com to book a lesson on your court today!