Last fall, USTA Florida launched the Community Coach Pilot Program, which was focused on training and employing a diverse pool of tennis coaches across the state.
Due to the global pandemic that started in 2020, Florida tennis saw over a 25% increase in participation. While growth is great for the sport, that meant there were loads of beginners that needed training but not enough coaches to fit the demand.
This is where the Community Coach program came into play. By working with public parks, USTA Florida has been able to provide nearly 20 trainings and countless hours of experience to high school students, community residents, tennis players and others who have a passion for coaching community tennis.
Since April, seven trainings have taken place around the state with 5 more scheduled and there are plans to add more in the future. The Project Manager and Director of Community Tennis, Danielle Gooding said the program has come a long way in just a year.
“At first we launched the pilot program to see if there was interest,” Gooding recalled. “In just a few months it proved that there were loads of people interested in learning how to coach.”
Once people got involved, they realized that it wasn’t anything too scary. “Lots of people thought it would be difficult to pick up, but they quickly realized how doable it is,” Gooding said.
The in-person classes are very informative, follow a set curriculum, and community coaches in training are provided many resources to use. One of those resources is RacquetSportsU (RSU), which supplies additional information and instruction videos. Curriculums span many different ages and skill levels and feature training on teaching Special Olympics tennis, High School team tennis, Summer Camps, Adult Beginners, Youth Beginners and much more.
After completing training, the program allows its participants to receive up to 10 weeks of paid, on-court program experience at a facility. This lets people ask questions, work through real-life scenarios, and educate the future of tennis with a mentor by their side.
People who have gone through the program have come out with a new view on teaching tennis and are ready to educate the next generation of the game.
“The instructors were very knowledgeable and experts at teaching. I cannot speak highly enough of them. I would recommend this training to anyone I know,” one person said. Another added, “It’s very well presented and educational. I am very visual, so the hand on teaching was helpful.”
USTA Florida is committed to growing tennis and showing that tennis is for all. So, if you happen to see a training in progress the next time you’re at the tennis courts, don’t hesitate to get involved.
For more information about the Community Coach Program, and to apply, please visit www.USTAFlorida.com/CommunityCoach.