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View Full Version : Tennis Pros, let me vent...


tutennis
07-08-2010, 03:01 PM
Hello.
I've been a tennis pro for about 5 years now in three different cities. I was a d1 player and an assistant coach at a d1 school for another two. Don't get me wrong I love the game and helping people learn it. But seriously this has to be one of the worst jobs ever... and right now in this economy I'm happy just to have money but yeesh.

I work 6 sometimes 7 days a week from 9 am until 8 pm or later. My body is falling apart from all of the wear and tear and I'm not even 30 yet. I have constant no shows or cancellations and our head pro makes more on my private lessons than I do. Not to mention I'm a glorified babysitter some of the time trying to teach kids that clearly don't want to be there.

I don't have a uspta or ptr certification ( mostly because the majority of those that have those certifications can't teach or play a lick , yes this is a generalization) and I have to deal with these pompous people that think they know it all because the have a p1,2, or 3 by their name. Arghhh....

We won't even get into the mental drain or the fact that your game goes to hell..... ok that's all I feel better.

Is that what I should expect for the rest of my career or does it get better... I mean the head pros just want so much out of you and most of them get in at 10 and leave at 4. Does anyone else out there feel like this? Share any stories or experiences. Thanks.

Fifth Set
07-08-2010, 03:56 PM
Getting to know the pros at my club and taking lots of clinics/private lessons over the years, I have often wondered how hard it must be to actually be a young tennis pro. You answered the question well. Hard.

Having said that, keep in mind that much of what you're facing is pretty common in the corporate world too. Youngins are expected to "pay their dues" before rising up to management positions. Experienced folks make more money than junior employees, even if they don't necessarily put in more hours. Work involves just that - work - with as many tedious tasks as interesting ones. Certifications, education, specific qualifications, etc. all count.

My advice is either:

(1) Play the game. Get the certifications, work hard, be patient, network, climb the ladder, be excellent, etc. and your time will come.

OR

(2) Go to graduate school! I'm serious. If you don't like the actual work (even the Head of Tennis has to be pleasant to pompous jerks, teach the utterly clueless how to hold the stick, etc.) then tennis may be something to leave behind as a hobby while you're still young.

Bhagi Katbamna
07-08-2010, 10:26 PM
Be happy. You're doing what you love. I have to deal with demanding patients who are sick, have lots of medical problems, think that the world owes them something, and have government insurance that pays 15-25% of what I charge(if I get paid at all--which happens sometimes). So, when that happens, I think about why I went into medicine(because I love the work and love helping people). So change your perspective.

ProgressoR
07-09-2010, 03:19 AM
become a head coach. Get in at 10 and leave at 4.

What do you need to get there? qualifications? get them. Dont mess around. Make it happen.

10s talk
07-09-2010, 03:22 AM
you need a few weeks off every year, or you burn out

ollinger
07-09-2010, 07:52 AM
Very useful thread for the kids who foresake schoolwork so they can train constantly at their tennis. They rationalize that although the chances of making it on the tour are miniscule, they can always have a great life as a teaching pro, a life they grossly overromanticize. I'm pretty friendly with a few of the teaching pros I've occasionally hit with and they are a decidedly unhappy lot, their bodies aching as they feed balls to 5 year olds while demanding parents watch. Bhagi couldn't be more wrong -- a few teaching pros have nice situations but the rest are fairly miserable, some of them hitting me up for a sample Z-pack when they get bronchitis, as most clubs don't give them benefits.

tutennis
07-09-2010, 08:19 AM
ollinger you make a very funny point. I give lessons to a doctor ( a really good guy) and he brings me zithromax samples because I don't have insurance. He knows those little kids I teach will get me sick all the time.

To those that suggest I should just advance to the top, I'd like too....., but it's a very weird field. I know guys that were itf ranked juniors and good satellite players that can barely make a living, yet you have people making six figures that I would never recommend to hit with, let alone take a lesson from.

Dave M
07-09-2010, 01:54 PM
ollinger you make a very funny point. I give lessons to a doctor ( a really good guy) and he brings me zithromax samples because I don't have insurance. He knows those little kids I teach will get me sick all the time.

To those that suggest I should just advance to the top, I'd like too....., but it's a very weird field. I know guys that were itf ranked juniors and good satellite players that can barely make a living, yet you have people making six figures that I would never recommend to hit with, let alone take a lesson from.

The problem you have is you won't get much further untill you get a recognised qualification and the reason those people with them advance and think they know it all is because they spend a lot of money going on courses so they can be told they do know it all! You want to try being in the UK where the governing body has everything stitched up so everybody ends up paying them a fortune to og on courses, often traveling hours to get there only to find it's either really overbooked or noboy else turns up so they decie to change it a bit and it finishes half way though the day.
People do get all excited about the life of a pro, I found with customers you're finding lessons cancelled because it's either cold,cold and wet, wet o sometimes too hot!I did my training as it were at a club with indoor courts, to work there though you would get less than a third of the price the customer paid and you had to do 4 hours on a saturday morning free of charge fo the kids mornings.(I hear what you're say about being a cheap babysitter!)
You may need to take a holiday, I got pretty burned mentally on the job and started to dislike playing let alone teaching, if you let it it will become just a job.Plus it was virtually impossible to be a newly started up coach and get a morgtage to buy a house...:confused:

Hidious
07-09-2010, 07:16 PM
That's scary. I think the best situation for me would be to teach tennis as a sideline, like a retired pro would. I'll soon be a math teacher so i'll have all my summers off and that's about the only time we get to play outdoor tennis in Canada. Perfect time to teach tennis here and there.

I have to agree that teaching tennis full-time sounds exhausting, especially with these young kids, some perhaps too young.

SoBad
07-09-2010, 07:27 PM
You may wish to find a club (or renegotiate terms with current club) that will let you work minimal hours, perhaps in the range of 12 - 16 hrs/wk. You don't get good pay or benefits while working full-time, so use most of your week for private instruction, while still having access to new students through the club. That way you will make a lot more money and work with students who are motivated and appreciative, on a schedule that is convenient for you.

mlktennis
07-09-2010, 07:52 PM
I suspected the life of a tennis pro sucked pretty bad-esp when you are the low man on the totem pole.

Like most things in life, sucess is not related to talent. Learn the game of money/ business like you learned tennis and play it better and better.



Good luck.

nfor304
07-09-2010, 08:04 PM
Whatever field you're in is going to have a lot of downside until you get closer to the top. Thats just the way the world works.

At least your working hard doing something you love rather than working hard in some cubicle or something doing something you dont love.

NBM
07-09-2010, 08:45 PM
Hello.
I've been a tennis pro for about 5 years now in three different cities. I was a d1 player and an assistant coach at a d1 school for another two. Don't get me wrong I love the game and helping people learn it. But seriously this has to be one of the worst jobs ever... and right now in this economy I'm happy just to have money but yeesh.

I work 6 sometimes 7 days a week from 9 am until 8 pm or later. My body is falling apart from all of the wear and tear and I'm not even 30 yet. I have constant no shows or cancellations and our head pro makes more on my private lessons than I do. Not to mention I'm a glorified babysitter some of the time trying to teach kids that clearly don't want to be there.

I don't have a uspta or ptr certification ( mostly because the majority of those that have those certifications can't teach or play a lick , yes this is a generalization) and I have to deal with these pompous people that think they know it all because the have a p1,2, or 3 by their name. Arghhh....

We won't even get into the mental drain or the fact that your game goes to hell..... ok that's all I feel better.

Is that what I should expect for the rest of my career or does it get better... I mean the head pros just want so much out of you and most of them get in at 10 and leave at 4. Does anyone else out there feel like this? Share any stories or experiences. Thanks.

I understand where you are coming from having taught full time for a small handful of years of years, and many years part time. The few years I taught full time logging many hours on court have been, by far, the least rewarding for many of the reasons you mention. I had permanent jock rash and athletes foot and was always physically and mentally drained. Lots of the teaching jobs are highly political..
The reality is there are very few teaching pros making a good living teaching tennis, and many of them are fixtures and arent about to be supplanted whether you know how to teach better or not. Also tennis isnt quite a growth sport. You've got to be lucky far more than good in your profession. I figured out early on that I was never going to have a quality lifestyle as a full time teaching pro, so i had another career and have selectively taught part time at different clubs over the years and have avoided burnout. i;ve avoided the ball feeder and baby sitting type lessons as much as i could.
So my advice is to launch yourself in another direction unless teaching tennis full time brings you joy...doesnt seem that way. It isnt going to get much better unless you get lucky and land yourself that rare gig.
If you are teaching outside always use high spf and ALWAYS wear good sunglasses..in addition to the lower body problems of teaching pros and back and hip problems, many of them have horrible eyesight at a far too early age from the hours in the sun.
I have been sometimes certified and sometimes not. We know it really isnt a good indicator of ones ability to teach, but the public doesnt know what a lame process certification is. It's also a good way to buy liability insurance on the cheap if your club requires it. some clubs require certification. Some of the worst teaching pros I have encountered have won awards from the PTR or USPTA and attend all kinds of seminars and such which make them look good on paper.

kiteboard
07-10-2010, 09:46 AM
Very tough way to make a living. Try crawling through basements and attics, and running 200lb conduits, and taking danger from tools, ladders, high spots, voltage, bad clients who don't pay and bad mouth your rep., and lack of work, high rents. Dead animal carcasses. Racoon poop. Spiders biting you. Inspectors who don't know the code.

zapvor
07-10-2010, 10:12 AM
Very tough way to make a living. Try crawling through basements and attics, and running 200lb conduits, and taking danger from tools, ladders, high spots, voltage, bad clients who don't pay and bad mouth your rep., and lack of work, high rents. Dead animal carcasses. Racoon poop. Spiders biting you. Inspectors who don't know the code.

you are a contractor?

Clintspin
07-10-2010, 10:22 AM
http://www.ptrtennis.org/pdf/tp/TennisPro_21-30.pdf

If the link above opens for you, scan down to the article on Labor Law Violations. I am glad somebody finally wrote this article but it still will not change a think.

Teaching tennis has mediocre pay, no benefits and no job security at most clubs. It's tough on your body.

SoCal10s
07-10-2010, 11:39 AM
I've been teaching tennis for over 20 years and everyone I know who teaches tennis goes through the same thing.. you've gotta love what you do.. my advise for you is to start looking for a different job.. you're still young enough to start a new career.. if you like teaching ,go back to school and get a teaching degree and teach school,and teach tennis part-time and/or be a school coach.. get a real job that gives you medical benefits because your body will break down faster than you think.. most of my friends who taught tennis has had knee or arm problems and it's not going to be easy if you don't have insurance .. or you better marry someone who can carry you on her policy .. but the problem with tennis teaching is that the money is too easy now and sometimes it feels like it's too hard to find or start a new gig,but trust me do it now and you'll be happier in the long run.. in America ,if you do something and stay with it for a long time ,you're bound to be OK.. here's an example.. I have a gardener ,he came here from Mexico,he didn't know any English,he had nothing.. he shared a room at his cousin's apt. that was 25 years ago.. now he owns 2 houses here in Glendale,California(paid for,no loans) and a house/ranch in a beach town in Mexico .. he has 5 helper/workers.. I mean he just worked hard ,with no education and he's living the American dream.. his 2 kids are going to university and are studying law and business.. as for me,I still have no medical benefits now because I used to use my (ex)-wife's insurance .. if I get ill,I'm in deep ***** out of luck..
go start a nice career .. I have an ex-student who is about your age.. he didn't do like his parents planned.. after high school he just goofed around,he had a chance to go to a nice uni like his brother and sister ,but he rather have fun playing tennis,ect.. he went back to school and became a nurse and now he's making decent money working time and 1/2 making almost 100k a year.. he said that he wants to work hard for 4 years and buy a house and then take it easy and settle down .. he loves being a nurse.. male nurse make good money and jobs a not hard to find.. so good luck...

stapletonj
07-10-2010, 04:37 PM
Peter principle in action - (not an insult, just a generalization)

playing great tennis does not involve the same skill set as teaching tennis.

it doesn't even exactly involve the same skill set as coaching tennis.

even coaching is different in that a coach does not take a beginner, even if only mediocrely talented, and break down the basic fundamentals of the strokes and teach them to the student. A coach more conditions and motivates the already accomplished student, scouts opponents, etc., might tweak the players game if somethign is wrong, but not much.

Tennis teachers otoh, can and should utilize their verbal skills at describing to the player how to hit the ball and where to move. They should use their visual skills to be able to see when the player is NOT doing what is described. They shuold be analytical enough to figure out what the player is doing wrong and why. Then be creative to come up with a visualization and/or drill that will encourage the player to correctly produce the stroke.

Notice how these skills are not terribly the same of a great player? the teacher's Conditioning doesn't really come into play. The teacher hitting a 120 mph flat serve is only good to get the students attention and resepct so the student will take the teachers lessons seriously.

(nothgin personal, this is true in almost every endeavor, medecine, law, sales, etc.)

A prime example would be this - (and again, this is not a personal attack)

Are you just feeding balls? Are there far more complicated drills that mimic how a typical point progresses? How much video do you use? Is part of your instruction slow motion clips of great strokes? Do you video your students? DO you go through the video with them? Do you print up sheets at the end of each month or quarter or season summarizing the students progress and regression? Do you encourage your students to compete? Do you go, even for a few minutes? DO you use props on the court? (I had a coach teach me to serve by forcing me to use a baseball bat! It worked tremendously,) How much chalk do you have in your bag to draw out things on the court? How much of your lessons involve cones?

90% of the pros I have seen do little more than feed balls and "bend your knees, watch the ball, racket back early". the other 10%, that do all this other stuff often wind up tremendous successes.

NBM
07-11-2010, 09:15 AM
Peter principle in action - (not an insult, just a generalization)

the other 10%, that do all this other stuff often wind up tremendous successes.

this is patently untrue. most of the people being taught tennis wouldnt know a good tennis lesson from a bad one. that quite often means that the teaching pro w. the biggest line of crap, the best accent, etc is considered the best. Most of the quality teaching pros I know and who have taught with become very frustrated by the pros who are full of it and full of themselves being considered better than the pros who are very accomplished at what they do. i'm glad i decided not to teach much anymore....there are too many ways for the joy to be sucked out of helping people play better ball.

35ft6
07-11-2010, 01:26 PM
I have no idea how most people can be full time tennis teachers. I did it one summer and it sucked. You're basically doing the same thing all day and it's hot.

cucio
07-11-2010, 02:40 PM
I have no idea how most people can be full time tennis teachers.

I had no idea most people were tennis teachers! :shock:

mlktennis
07-11-2010, 03:28 PM
I've been teaching tennis for over 20 years and everyone I know who teaches tennis goes through the same thing.. you've gotta love what you do.. my advise for you is to start looking for a different job.. you're still young enough to start a new career.. if you like teaching ,go back to school and get a teaching degree and teach school,and teach tennis part-time and/or be a school coach.. get a real job that gives you medical benefits because your body will break down faster than you think.. most of my friends who taught tennis has had knee or arm problems and it's not going to be easy if you don't have insurance .. or you better marry someone who can carry you on her policy .. but the problem with tennis teaching is that the money is too easy now and sometimes it feels like it's too hard to find or start a new gig,but trust me do it now and you'll be happier in the long run.. in America ,if you do something and stay with it for a long time ,you're bound to be OK.. here's an example.. I have a gardener ,he came here from Mexico,he didn't know any English,he had nothing.. he shared a room at his cousin's apt. that was 25 years ago.. now he owns 2 houses here in Glendale,California(paid for,no loans) and a house/ranch in a beach town in Mexico .. he has 5 helper/workers.. I mean he just worked hard ,with no education and he's living the American dream.. his 2 kids are going to university and are studying law and business.. as for me,I still have no medical benefits now because I used to use my (ex)-wife's insurance .. if I get ill,I'm in deep ***** out of luck..
go start a nice career .. I have an ex-student who is about your age.. he didn't do like his parents planned.. after high school he just goofed around,he had a chance to go to a nice uni like his brother and sister ,but he rather have fun playing tennis,ect.. he went back to school and became a nurse and now he's making decent money working time and 1/2 making almost 100k a year.. he said that he wants to work hard for 4 years and buy a house and then take it easy and settle down .. he loves being a nurse.. male nurse make good money and jobs a not hard to find.. so good luck...

Agree!!!! The high percentage play is to find what is your skill set (besides tennis) and make a career from that- teach tennis on the side if you love it so much.

No matter if you love someting- if it gives you nothing back- eventually you WILL hate it.

mlktennis
07-11-2010, 03:40 PM
And btw, tu tennis,

don't listen to all those that say, it's better than sitting in a cubile or behind a desk all day. The grass is always greener on the other side. Lots of complainers out there. People are never thankful for what they have. I bet you would be thankful if you had a nice 9-5 job, weekends off, a house, a beautiful wife and 2 kids and a dog, health insurance, 3square meals, a 401k retirement plan, Vacations 1-2x per year...but no, everyone complains and wishes they could play sports for a living while they pop a prozac.

Don't you want to be the one who has that extra cash to pay for the lesson and not be the one who hopes his clients don't cancel so that he can pay his rent?

TennisCoachFLA
07-11-2010, 03:55 PM
Its totally what you make it like every job. I know doctors that are miserable and some that are happy, teachers same thing...some can teach the 3rd grade for 30 years and love it, others get driven crazy.

I work with lots of pros, some happy and some not. The happy ones are people person's and they prepare properly....proper rest, protein shakes prepared ahead of time for rebuilding the body during the day, a great strength and flexibility injury prevention program.

Is it the best job, no. But in my experience those that are strong personalities and who prepare their bodies properly are much more likely to be one of the happy group.

It seems to me the OP did not prepare himself properly...moving through the certification levels opens doors for you to become the head pro some day. Sure like he said, thats no guarantee they are good teachers...but it allows you to move up through the ranks.

He also does not seem prepared body wise. Any pro athlete will tell you that there are guys in the locker room in pain all the time...others know the right supplements, joint care, foot care, injury prevention, etc.

OP....you did not prepare for the career properly and my guess is you would be miserable as an engineer, teacher, whatever as the unprepared end up like that.

Joeyg
07-11-2010, 04:25 PM
Hello.
I've been a tennis pro for about 5 years now in three different cities. I was a d1 player and an assistant coach at a d1 school for another two. Don't get me wrong I love the game and helping people learn it. But seriously this has to be one of the worst jobs ever... and right now in this economy I'm happy just to have money but yeesh.

I work 6 sometimes 7 days a week from 9 am until 8 pm or later. My body is falling apart from all of the wear and tear and I'm not even 30 yet. I have constant no shows or cancellations and our head pro makes more on my private lessons than I do. Not to mention I'm a glorified babysitter some of the time trying to teach kids that clearly don't want to be there.

I don't have a uspta or ptr certification ( mostly because the majority of those that have those certifications can't teach or play a lick , yes this is a generalization) and I have to deal with these pompous people that think they know it all because the have a p1,2, or 3 by their name. Arghhh....

We won't even get into the mental drain or the fact that your game goes to hell..... ok that's all I feel better.

Is that what I should expect for the rest of my career or does it get better... I mean the head pros just want so much out of you and most of them get in at 10 and leave at 4. Does anyone else out there feel like this? Share any stories or experiences. Thanks.

Are you one of the Tu brothers from NorCal? Where are you working? I know of several clubs looking for qualified instructors.

As for your qualifications, I know several D1 players who cannot teach, even though their playing level is quite high. The ability to play at a high level and to teach at one are sometimes two very different things.