Adjusting to Meet the Challenge
As my friend, advocate and visionary Billie Jean King, says, “Champions adjust.” These two words now have a critical sense of urgency as we look to how tennis will have to “adjust” coming out of this quarantine. As a sport that can be played with social distancing, there are challenges we need to consider.
Here are six adjustments we need to make if we want to be champions and be prepared to welcome the HUGE wave of new tennis players who will be coming our way once we start to return to our new normal.
1. SAFETY comes first. Be visible and diligent about keeping your customers as safe as possible. How we prepare our facilities, how we restructure and run our programs and how we let players know what we are doing to take care of them are vital to our success. If they don’t trust us, they won’t return.
2. Promote tennis’ HEALTH BENEFITS. We need to promote the amazing health benefits of our sport. We now have the scientific data to back up what our nationwide tennis community has known for years. Tennis is a lifestyle sport that can be played by players of all ages and all abilities.
3. Focus on LOCAL play. Find ways to make local play fun, exciting and challenging. The socialization aspect of tennis can never be underestimated.
4. Focus on the FAMILY. Seeing families spending more time together, including exercising, has shown us how TENNIS can become the sport for families to do together. We need to offer more programs for families to learn and play together.
5. Focus on SMALL GROUPS. Maintaining social distancing in our team practices, clinics and camps will mean having fewer people on the court. How we adjust our pricing, staffing, scheduling and demand, while keeping the groups small and manageable, will be a key to our success.
6. Offer INEXPENSIVE OPPORTUNITIES for youth and adults to try the sport. Keeping things simple will be key. There is a large population that will need time to get back on their feet, economically and socially. We can better interest them in tennis if we make it easy for them to play tennis. Inviting these new converts to the sport to play in introductory, inexpensive programs is how we can turn this thing around.
Now is the time to reset and ADJUST so we can be CHAMPIONS and TENNIS can WIN!
Inner-city high school coach, certified teaching pro, NJTL chapter executive director and USTA volunteer Delaine Mast has been the National Director for World TeamTennis (WTT) Community Leagues for 40 years.
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