Ethical Tennis Lessons

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Micalzon, Jan 7, 2014.

  1. Micalzon

    Micalzon Rookie

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    I wasn't sure where to post this but figured if I wanted opinions of other coaches and instructors, this may be the right place.

    I signed my 5 yr old son up for tennis lessons with a local group this past summer and he really enjoyed it and did very well in the class. The problem was the price. It was really something I couldn't afford on a monthly basis, so I had the idea of just coaching him myself. I figured I was already out there anyway so I wasn't saving any time by having someone else do it for me and what I paid in one month to the other coach I could buy all the basic equipment needed to coach him. So I did. Keep in mind, that I'm actually a decent player myself (4.0 singles player) having played in multiple leagues over the last few years and figured I knew enough about the game to teach a 5 yr old.

    The Story Builds: Then I had the idea of including some of his friends. I sent out an email to some friends and neighbors to see if anyone wanted to join us for a small fee (none were already with this other guy). I wanted to keep the group small, capped at 5 kids total. I found with this other group of 10-12 kids, there was a lot of waiting around for the kids.

    The "Issue": when we were working out the the time to hold lessons, they happened to be on the same days and times as this other group. And since there aren't a lot of courts around, we'll be using the same courts (there are plenty of courts for everyone). This, according to my wife, feels a little weird.

    So, what are your thoughts? Is it kosher to hold lessons at the same time and place as this other coach? I'm really trying to change the dates to ensure there are no court conflicts, but at this time, I personally don't see it as an issue (my wife, on the other hand, does). I'm not doing this to steal his students (I actually have a lengthy waiting list myself) and am not stealing any of his coaching techniques or other intellectual property. I made a very conscience effort to put together drills that were not the same as what I saw him use. Let me know what you think.
     
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  2. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    You're not really doing anything wrong, but it does seem a little tacky though. I can understand how the other coach would get upset, seeing as he knows you and knows you signed your son up for his group and then pulled him out. If you can't change the dates, why not just change the venue?
     
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  3. arche3

    arche3 Banned

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    Eh. Steal his students. If he is better as a coach or a salesmen they won't leave. Its not kindergarden. Do what you want and if he gives you grief tell him to get his mommy to talk to your mommy. Competition is good.
     
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  4. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    If the courts are public, it is OK as long as the posted rules of the city permit for-profit coaching by coaches not registered with the city. Even otherwise it should be OK, unless someone complains about it when they can't find an empty court or find the noise or the balls coming over to be distracting.

    If these are club courts, club policies may not allow such coaching by persons who are not club coaches.
     
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  5. BMC9670

    BMC9670 Hall of Fame

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    This is pretty much sums up my kid's tennis development. I've taught my son since he was about 7, supplementing here and there with lessons, but not willing/able to do them on a regular basis. I work with him individually and also in small groups with a few of his tennis friends that are at the same level.

    Here is my advice on the politics (he's now 11 and I've been through some):

    1. Keep the group small - 2-4 kids is ideal
    2. Make it known that you're not a coach and not instructing the other kids, but the sessions are to hit extra balls and get some exercise
    3. Don't except payment of any kind, even court fees

    Do this and you should be fine. Excepting fees and holding big groups at the same time/place as an establish pro/program is bound to ruffle some feathers. No reason to do this unless you want to be in business.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2014
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  6. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    You are a software engineer, aren't you?
     
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  7. BMC9670

    BMC9670 Hall of Fame

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    Oops, darn auto-spill!:)
     
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  8. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    What he said.
     
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  9. Micalzon

    Micalzon Rookie

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    Thanks for everyone's input. The courts are owned by the school district and are free to the public after 4:30 during the school year. They have no policy against using the courts for lessons but they are first come, first serve but there are plenty to go around.

    I've checked into other courts and they are either very scruffy or belong to neighborhood HOA's that I don't belong to.

    The group is very small (4 kids total) and are all under 7 years old. I am accepting a small fee ($50/month for biweekly lessons) just to help us use better training equipment. It's almost more like a co-op lessons as I'll be using all the funds to pay for the training. I'm hoping to have enough for a ball machine to use with the kids when they're a bit older, so it is definately not really a "for profit" endevour.

    I appreciate your input.
     
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  10. BMC9670

    BMC9670 Hall of Fame

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    Profit or not, if you accept payment, you are in business. Not that that's a bad thing, but may have implications - taxes, insurance, etc. I know one guy who got a recreational coaching certificate just to have the liability insurance that it came with.
     
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  11. counterfeit25

    counterfeit25 Rookie

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    For tax purposes, this is not true, according to the IRS website. As long as your lessons qualify as a "hobby", as opposed to a "business".
    http://www.irs.gov/uac/Business-or-Hobby?-Answer-Has-Implications-for-Deductions

    "Generally, an activity qualifies as a business if it is carried on with the reasonable expectation of earning a profit."

    "The IRS presumes that an activity is carried on for profit if it makes a profit during at least three of the last five tax years, including the current year"

    So it is possible to classify your tennis lessons as a "hobby" for tax purposes, if it meets the IRS guidelines. Not sure about the insurance policy though.
     
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  12. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    ^^^ Good point. Even if the tax implications are mild (who is going to tell on him?), the liability issue is a good point. I guess if you don't accept money, that issue kind of goes away.

    If the money is used for balls etc., it might be better to ask some other parent to collect it as a donation so it becomes a group effort.
     
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  13. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    You charge $50 for two lessons a month? Man, that's good money.
     
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  14. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    Biweekly can also mean twice a week. OP, what does it mean in your case?
     
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  15. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    Almost positive he means twice a week since he wants his kid to hit more
     
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  16. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    No, it can not, except in cases of common misuse. Bi-weekly means every second week in the same way bimonthly or biannually always means every second month/year.

    Twice a week would be "twice weekly."
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2014
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  17. TCF

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  18. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    #18
  19. Avles

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    I'm not sure this is true. The earliest printed occurrence I can find for "bi-weekly" (from 1800) appears to mean "twice a week." (It's in Farrar's Life of Christ, page 326, footnote 1, referring to the fact that the Pharisees would fast on both Monday and Thursday).

    It's tidier and less ambiguous to say "semi-weekly" for twice a week and "bi-weekly" for every two weeks but I don't think that was ever the rule, or the universal practice.

    [/pedantry]
     
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  20. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

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    I think it's less ambiguous to just say, "You should do X every two weeks." Or. "You should do X twice per week."

    Are we really that pressed for time these days that we can't use an extra word or two ensure that we're properly understood?
     
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  21. Avles

    Avles Hall of Fame

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    That phrasing works as an adverb but not as an adjective.

    I'll stop contributing to the threadjack now... bottom line is that both meanings of "biweekly" are well-established and correct.
     
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  22. SFrazeur

    SFrazeur Legend

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    Ask for the school district's permission. They may not have posted rules against it, but there may be accepted rules or an understanding with them that this instructor is the only one allowed to teach for profit.

    Are you willing to burn bridges with this instructor? If you are working with kids other than your own on a regular basis he/she might take umbrage to this.
     
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  23. SFrazeur

    SFrazeur Legend

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    Bi-weekly or bi-monthly can mean twice a week/month or every-other week/month.

    Semi-weekly sounds like something you only sometimes do weekly.
     
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  24. BMC9670

    BMC9670 Hall of Fame

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    Boy did this get sidetracked by semantics. OP, please clarify and stop the bleeding.
     
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  25. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    The internet is a haven of explanations which seem plausible but came about by common mis-usage.

    Think about it. Bimonthly, biannually, bisect.... none of those are ever used in reference to a situation of two occurrences/unit. They refer to one occurrence/two units.

    Anyone who uses the term biweekly when they mean twice a week is a clueless as people who say "I could care less" instead of "I couldn't care less." Both may be in common usage but one is right while for the other it is merely understood what the person meant. They're not the same thing.
     
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  26. stevenymets

    stevenymets New User

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    Good point about liability and also above about the school district courts. Where I grew up, you could not use publicly paid for courts to make a profit, unless you were part of the town parks and rec programs. It wasn't physically posted on the courts however. I honestly don't know the rules where I live now, but my guess would be the rules are the same for the same reason; taxpayers are not building courts for individuals to profit from, regardless of how minimal the profit is.

    That being said, if there are no rules against what you are doing, then continue to teach the kids! You are doing a good thing by spreading the game we love to the youth, and it is always good to have more future players. Plus, you are creating healthy habits which hopefully will continue for a lifetime. Regarding the other teacher and the time, if you are a better teacher, or cheaper, or more popular for whatever reason and more kids are going to you, well, hopefully that will force him to up his game and everyone will benefit by better teaching.
     
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  27. Micalzon

    Micalzon Rookie

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    Y'all have really gone to town with my biweekly comment. :)

    Yes, I did mean "twice weekly" per common usage of the phrase biweekly, as several of you have pointed out. I've heard all types of opinions and rhetoric regarding whether it should be biweekly or semi-weekly, but this is all a moot point.

    I have done all due diligence with seeking permission from the school directly as well as the district and they are all fine with my use of the courts. The parents understand this is just a group activity and know their payments are going towards the training equipment and other ancillary items (I went and bought a few mugs of hot chocolate since it was freezing yesterday. The kids and parents loved it). And they're all really good friends of mine so I don't have an issue with the liability. I've mostly been reaching out for the opinion regarding coaching at the same time and place as this other coach who used to train my son.

    I appreciate everyone's passion for the sport and these boards. Keep up the good work!
     
    #27
  28. GoudX

    GoudX Professional

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    In the UK we have 'fortnightly', and instantly get rid of the problem! 'Twice per week' would be the best way of saying what you ment.

    To OP:
    I'd only be worried about liability in accidents, both regarding the kids injuring themselves and to anyone else they may injure if this is a public area. You don't want to get sued for a kid knocking over some old man and breaking his hip!

    If the parents are all good friends then who is the coach to say that you shouldn't be coaching their kids?

    It'd be very different if you were going out into the community and finding 'random' kids from local schools and whatnot - but just explain to the other coach that you are only teaching friends of the family and not in the tennis business if there is an issue. If being reasonable fails, remind the coach that you live in " 'murica, home of the free market" - and threaten an anti-trust case!
     
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  29. sovertennis

    sovertennis Semi-Pro

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    OP--A couple of items to consider:
    >>You do, indeed, have a liability issue, albeit a small one. If a child is injured while you are supervising the lessons, then you could have a problem. Again, small issue, but you should consider it nonetheless. (Note: Your homeowners policy--if you have one-- would not help you here, in part because you're accepting money for the lessons).
    >>Perhaps, if there is no alternative to your group and the other group being on court concurrently, you could call the coach, in advance, and advise him of your plan. That might avoid the potential tension your wife is concerned about.
     
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  30. TCF

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    Ha, I hear you. We all pretty much knew you probably meant twice a week. This forum always cracks me up though, posters will stick by their posts no matter what old Webster and every other dictionary says. Gots to be right no matter what, its comical to me!

    Anyway, I have to say I am torn on this one though. The other guy was there first, you took your son to him first....then you start your own group at the same time and place.

    Many will disagree, but I am with your wife on this one. To me its was sort of lame to pick the same time and place. But in the end, I suppose its okay since you went after friends of yours rather than his students.

    Concerning liability, even with friends it can change. A kid wacks another in the head with a racquet, a parent does not show the proper remorse.....things can change very fast when parents and kids are involved.
     
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  31. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    I'd have a conversation with that coach before "setting up shop" at the same time on the same courts. When I certified with the USPTA, one serious issue that we covered was about being careful to not poach on the business of other teachers, at least ones who are certified and running more formal lessons.

    I absolutely appreciate where you're coming from, but I think you'd be smart to explain your situation to this teacher in the same way you've explained it to us. Much better chance of being on the same page and having a harmonious coexistence out there. If I was running a small program and a parent withdrew their kid from my group, started another one at the same time on an adjacent court, and expected everything to be cool without saying a word to me... whoa Nellie!!! I'm a very easy going human, but this would be a SERIOUS problem if it happened to me.

    Have the conversation. You may actually be able to help each other out and make an even better go of it once you've cleared the air. Just making the inquiry his way could be enough of a show of respect to make everything fine.
     
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  32. Mahboob Khan

    Mahboob Khan Hall of Fame

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    Few pointers:

    Make sure that you are Certified so that your teaching is standard.

    As long as you are not occupying someone's spot, or space, you should be fine.

    If the kids from the other programs like to join your program tell them to complete/sever their relationship with previous coaches and then they can join you.

    As long as you mind your own business in your own allotted court space you should not worry.

    Good luck.
     
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  33. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    ...and some who know no better will constantly refer to wiki-type or modernistic sources which are by no means the definitive ruling body on correctness.

    As I said and will say again, some things become what they are through common miss-use. It doesn't mean they are necessarily interchangeable or can be argued as being equivalent to the original word's meaning. My example of a classic American basta.rd.isation, "I could care less", is a perfect example. It makes little sense if you dissect it and compare it to the original version - yet it remains a common saying.

    Even if you stretch the term biweekly to include both meanings the way it was used in this thread was ambiguous so therefore fails the first test of practical use of any term (unless done deliberately to be ambiguous).
     
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  34. TCF

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    Ha, after the years following this forum I have learned my lesson well....when one of the resident experts is 'right' about something, even a Webster's dictionary definition or the sworn testimony of a bus full of nuns will not sway them.

    Its all good though, whatever....
     
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  35. SFrazeur

    SFrazeur Legend

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    Certification (USPTA/PTR) does not give any solid guarantee of a teaching standard. The worst paid instructors I have seen have been certified for decades. Certification means what a persons wants it to mean.
     
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  36. CoachingMastery

    CoachingMastery Professional

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    As a side note, be sure to do some research, (if you haven't already), to learning how to work with small groups. There is a ton of information out there on YouTube and such. (Personally, I did a program of documenting my training of my 8 year old for one year on TennisOne.com...which outlined most of the drills and progressions I used to get her to a high level of play in less than a year working only a couple days a week.)

    There are countless ways to teach "correct" fundamentals in a way that is both fun and effective/efficient in terms of producing players who have a solid foundation.

    However, there are equally countless ways to ruin a kid's chances of reaching their potential by ignorant and limited understanding of how tennis can be taught.

    Regardless of what goals these kids, (or your own kid), may have, developing these fundamentals or what I call "Advanced Foundations", is absolute in terms of giving each kid the tools to take tennis to whatever level they might want in the future. If they are taught poorly, you essentially erase this opportunity.
     
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  37. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    I agree with this smart man 100%. You must talk to your son's former coach before anything. That's simple etiquette. Also, since your goal is to help the kids without profit, put the money in a separate checking account. Keep track of expenses/income and share it with the parents.
     
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  38. BMC9670

    BMC9670 Hall of Fame

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    True. But it does provide liability insurance.
     
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  39. beernutz

    beernutz Hall of Fame

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    So bisexual can mean either being sexually attracted to two genders or to half a gender.
     
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  40. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    what he said, lol.
     
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  41. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    And unisex means the same for both genders so it should really be bisex shouldn't it?

    Where do transgendered individual figure in all of this?
     
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  42. SFrazeur

    SFrazeur Legend

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    "Uni" prefix in unisex means shared or suitable--shared or suitable for both sexes. Example: unisex t-shirt.

    "Bi" in bisexual means two--sexual attraction to two sexes.

    "Trans" in transgender I suppose could mean transition, transform or transverse.
     
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  43. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I knew all that
     
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