Does USPTA certification mean anything?

goober

Legend
I have decided to look for a coach. I am kind of at a lost how to find one. One guy advertising in my area says he is USPTA certified. When I went to the USPTA website he was not listed. Does this mean anything? How important is this certification anyways?

There are literally about 50 USPTA coaches in my area listed in my area so I found the site not very useful. There was no way to really get an idea of where they taught, how much they charged, if they are even taking new students or anything else other than their phone number. A few of them had websites but it seems these were mostly older guys directors of major centers who probably would charge $$$ and I am not sure how much time they would have.

Any advice?

Thx
 

Bungalo Bill

G.O.A.T.
It really depends. I hate to say this but I must be honest here. The USPTA strives to maintain balance in a teaching professional but I have seen some USPTA pros that were pretty bad.

On the other hand, I have seen some USPTA pros that are very very good. To become certified a pro needs to go through several exams.

1. Strokes: We must be able to hit all the strokes with good form.

2. Teaching: We must be able to demonstrate compentance in teaching a group and a private lesson.

3. Stroke Analysis: We must be able to discern a problem area in a persons stroke.

4. Tennis knowledge: We must pass a written exam in different area of tennis; rules, tournament draws, little tennis, tennis strategy, tennis history, etc.

5. Grips: We must be able to tell what grip a person is in and how to easily teach grips and the strengths and weaknesses of each grip.

I cant speak for all testers but in my area the pro who tests us is pretty strict. If you dont pass a test, you have to come back until you do before you're certified. I have heard some testers are less strict. Maybe that is why we have some issues with this.

You have to keep paying yearly dues to remain active in the USPTA. Some pros pass the USPTA test, then after a year they stop paying their dues (which is mainly for insurance) but continue to say they are USPTA Certified based on the past.

Here is a PDF file to learn how to hire a USPTA pro.

http://www.uspta.com/html/How to Hire.pdf.

Now, I dont want to paint a picture of disarray in the USPTA. It is just the opposite. The USPTA is always providing us with courses and ways to learn how to teach and develop players from beginners to pro's. It really depends on the individual pro and if they want to continue learning and improving hier skills for his/her students. Some pros are lazy and never attend classes, others are very diligent.

I would call the guy and find out when he is going to teach lessons, then show up and watch. Listen to what he is saying. Try and be at a lesson that the student he is teaching is about equivalent to your level and see what the pro does.

There are a lot of good pros out there. On the other hand, there are a lot of good pros that are not USPTA certified and handle their insurance themselves. Some don't carry insurance which you should be concerned about. If you get hurt and it was their fault, they need to have insurance. So start with that question.

As far providing pricing on the website - there could be issues with that fro other pros. Does paying $75 to one pro mean he is better than the one charging $50? Or will the pro that charges less get more students then the one who charges more? More phone calls? I dont know. But I bet it has been discussed before.


Dont get me wrong, I hear you about having a central place to look up things, but if a pro found out how much someone else charged for lessons there might be some issues that are outside of this discussion. There could be a good reason why it is not posted.
 

Camilio Pascual

Hall of Fame
My advice is to speak to students of these coaches and see what their experiences are. Hang out in a club locker room and start some conversations, you could hear a lot about coaches that way. Or, failing that, go out there and hire several coaches for a lesson or two each and compare them. One thing I advise you NOT to do: Don't listen to a litany of tournies and such that various coaches have won and pick that way. It doesn't have anything at all to do with the ability to teach. For example, though the trend has changed a little in baseball recently, for many years the very best coaches and managers were distinguished by having mediocre careers.
 

Camilio Pascual

Hall of Fame
PS - I forgot to mention that my experience has been that women will talk a LOT more about the male coaches than the men will. So hang out in their, oh yeah. Well, hang around a mixed doubles party or women's doubles and talk about the coaches.
 

Mash1230

New User
having a USPTA certification does not always make someone a good teacher. It does mean that someone is "qualified" to teach you because they have a certain skill level and knowledge of the game.

you can learn the game from someone who is not USPTA certified just as well or even better than a given person who is certified. The safer route would be to find someone who is USPTA certified, but you can still get great instruction from someone who isn't.

there are also "certified" racquet stringers out there. they tend to charge a lot more. the stringer I go to isn't "certified," in fact he's been doing it since before they even came out with certification for stringing. and he's pretty damn good.
 

Bungalo Bill

G.O.A.T.
Mash1230 said:
having a USPTA certification does not always make someone a good teacher. It does mean that someone is "qualified" to teach you because they have a certain skill level and knowledge of the game.

you can learn the game from someone who is not USPTA certified just as well or even better than a given person who is certified. The safer route would be to find someone who is USPTA certified, but you can still get great instruction from someone who isn't.

there are also "certified" racquet stringers out there. they tend to charge a lot more. the stringer I go to isn't "certified," in fact he's been doing it since before they even came out with certification for stringing. and he's pretty damn good.

Cant argue here. It is unfortunate and something I think the USPTA is aware of. They want to strengthen the pro certification. But the weeding out process is another story.

Mash is right, there are a lot of pros that are not certified in the USPTA that are very good coaches.
 

BSousa

Rookie
Regarding history of coaches, there is a saying:
"Those who can do, do, those who can't, teach"

And it is true. There are many good people that because of whatever reason (time, physical condition, etc) don't have a room filled with trophies, but have spent the time learning the game and learning how to teach the game, while most of the guys filled with the cups only took the time to learn the game but not teach them

My coach is neither of them unf, but he is the best I can find in my price range (50 euros/month for 2 hours a week shared with another guy) so I tend to use him more as a ball boy and learn on my own through self study :)

Bruno
 

Cypo

Rookie
6.25 per hour for a shared lesson is friggen cheap ! The going rate where I am is about 25 Euro per hour- single lesson, without court costs, and the most I've paid was 50 for two hours shared with another woman, with courts costs.
 

Bungalo Bill

G.O.A.T.
Cypo said:
6.25 per hour for a shared lesson is friggen cheap ! The going rate where I am is about 25 Euro per hour- single lesson, without court costs, and the most I've paid was 50 for two hours shared with another woman, with courts costs.

Lets see, 25 euro dollars. I am not familiar with the exchange rate. So if I charged 35 euro dollars I would be out of the market?
 

Mahboob Khan

Hall of Fame
In the old message board there was an indepth discussion on this topic, "PTR versus USPTA coaches", and "good player vs. good coach". Yes, some of the best coaches were mediocre players, and some very best players turned out to be mediocre coaches. It's all about education (certification) and ability to communicate, teach, and coach. Of course, the coach should be able to demonstrate and teach all shots. I have the conviction to say that I am the best coach in Pakistan although I did not play Davis Cup (I have won several singles and doubles titles and was number 1 in Pakistan in the 45 senior category). On the other hand those who have played Davis Cup and are running coaching camps, are running out of students because sooner or later the students and their parents discover as to who is the best coach? About 15 years ago, a former Davis Cupper started his coaching camp. Because of his playing reputation, four of my best players switched over to him. However, 15 years later, this trend has been reversed. After trying this former Davis Cupper-turned-coach, players are joining my camp in great number.

Generally as Bungalow Bill pointed out the USPTA-certified coaches (or for that matter PTR-certified coaches) are good because they follow a standard method of coaching. Players are not left to the personal whims of a non-certified coach. And there is a possibility that even a certified coach could be bad for reasons BB mentioned. For example, those coaches who have done their certification with Dennis van der Meer's TU-I course, they are by and large excellent coaches (I did my TU-I in 1994).

You may like to try out a PTR-Certified coach. Just email Julie Jilly: julie@ptrtennis.org and inquire about an excellent PTR coach in your area. She will help locate a good coach for you -- a coach who has a good reputation of teaching/coaching. BB can help you with an USPTA coach. Now the choice is yours! USPTR or USPTA?
 

Bungalo Bill

G.O.A.T.
Yeah I dont care whether a student picks USPTA or USPTR, they are all good certifications to have. After certification it really boils down to a coaches communication skills, their desire to study the things a tennis player probably isn't studying or doesnt have the time to study and so on.

I am for one am a good 5.0 player. I have won some local tournaments but nothing to brag about. I don't have Davis Cup "playing" credentials that others might have. I was not much of a "tournament player" and had other interests in life that I wanted to be involved in.

I can definetly say, I am a much better coach then a player. I can go farther as a coach then a player. I have reached a level of proficiency in my tennis that allows me to be qualified to teach without any concerns from my students of whether or not I can hit the ball right.

The thing that I focus most on is how to communicate ideas. I try to take a talented player that has the "genes" to play tennis and help them play better, smarter, faster, etc. But feeding their brain with the right information. I dont want you to think I build robots, but I definetly disspell myths and approach the game intelligently.

I try to get them to do things that I can only dream about doing with my body and limited gifts. That to me is what a coach is about. Just as a tennis player is improving themselves, coaches have to improve themselves in the area of coaching.

I may not have been the best player myself, but I know tennis and most important know how to motivate a tennis player to play their best.

Ever watch the movie "Remember the Titans" or "Hoosiers".
 

vin

Professional
Bungalo Bill said:
their desire to study the things a tennis player probably isn't studying or doesnt have the time to study "

I wish I could find one of these guys around here! It would be great to work with someone who is familiar with all the things I read and all the things we talk about here. Good thing for this forum!
 
Mahboob,

Hi, I did TU-1 in Summer of 1994 as well.

Were we in the same class?

There was a guy named Yuri from the Bahamas and a girl named Manya from Holland a guy named Jonathan from England. I had alot of fun there.

Just wondering...
 

goober

Legend
Bungalo Bill said:
I would call the guy and find out when he is going to teach lessons, then show up and watch. Listen to what he is saying. Try and be at a lesson that the student he is teaching is about equivalent to your level and see what the pro does.


.

Well this advice turned out to be very invaluable.

The first guy I watched was pushing 70 and spent about half the lesson rambling about all kinds of things that weren't related to helping the student who was about 60 and just learning tennis. He talked about the current state of pro tennis and went off on a 5 minute tanget about how it is important to the proper overgrip or your sweaty hands might mess up your swings. I don't think the student really minded tho because it seemed like more of a social thing for her.

The second coach I visited was the complete opposite. She was in her mid 20s and was just a few years removed from D1 college tennis. She was a great player, but her session seemed more of a hitting/drill session with 100s of balls but not that much on teaching. I wouldn't have minded hitting with her but not for $50/hr
 

Mahboob Khan

Hall of Fame
Eric: Yes, we were in the same class which Dennis Van der Meer conducted. Yes, Peter Doohan was also there. And there was this beautiful girl, Raquel from Puerto Rico who was my mixed doubles partner. We used to be on the court from 6 AM to 9 PM learning from Dennis and then practice our teaching by conducting pseudo classes. I was the lone participant from Pakistan. I was the first and only Pakistani who was certified as Pro in 1994!

Nice to hear from you.
 
Mahboob, I'm not sure we were in the same session. There are a couple of sessions during the summer. I don't remember Raquel (from your description, I think I would have). In the pictures, I would be the tallest guy in the class @6'5" and the youngest at 18.
Dennis reffered to me as "Monster" (my serve was big that year)

I remember Dinky Van Rensburg (former top 100 WTA) was in my class as well as Manya Van der Claw (Holland), Yuri (Bahamas), Johnathan(UK). Also a guy named Smart from Africa.

We played with Mayor David Dinkins (former Mayor New York) on the last day and he had chest pains which ended up making the national news that night.

Anyways, It was good times. Partying on the beach, partying at the club, felt guilty not staying in touch with people, but I saw Yuri from the Bahamas a couple of months ago. We now work at clubs an hour from each other.

It's amazing how tennis is such a small world.

Best Wishes,
 
Mahboob,

When I visit Baltimore again my pictures are all back there, I'll dig them out and try to find you in the group one. What did you look like then?
 

Mahboob Khan

Hall of Fame
Eric: Yes, we were together. Strange, my earlier replies got deleted! Don Hightower: What happened? Eric's question is there but my answer got deleted several times. Why?
 

Mahboob Khan

Hall of Fame
All can see all the replies now. I think it was September-October 1994. I attended the TU-I and also the Symposium. I guess Peter Doohan won the singles that year. I am 6', fair color, stayed in a room close to tennis courts. Jonathan Stubbs was the guy who was from U.K. at that time he was working in UAE, he then went to Brunei Dar as Salam. This past January I saw him in Dhaka, Bangladesh, travelling with an Indian girl. We were returning from Burma, Yangon, after attending the ITF 14U circuit. I am running a coaching camp in Islamabad Club and are having decent success.
 

Bungalo Bill

G.O.A.T.
goober said:
Bungalo Bill said:
I would call the guy and find out when he is going to teach lessons, then show up and watch. Listen to what he is saying. Try and be at a lesson that the student he is teaching is about equivalent to your level and see what the pro does.


.

Well this advice turned out to be very invaluable.

The first guy I watched was pushing 70 and spent about half the lesson rambling about all kinds of things that weren't related to helping the student who was about 60 and just learning tennis. He talked about the current state of pro tennis and went off on a 5 minute tanget about how it is important to the proper overgrip or your sweaty hands might mess up your swings. I don't think the student really minded tho because it seemed like more of a social thing for her.

The second coach I visited was the complete opposite. She was in her mid 20s and was just a few years removed from D1 college tennis. She was a great player, but her session seemed more of a hitting/drill session with 100s of balls but not that much on teaching. I wouldn't have minded hitting with her but not for $50/hr


Well good, I am really glad that helped. Have you tried to determine your criteria on what kind of coach your looking for and what you will use to measure which coach is the best choice?

I agree with you about the coach charging $50 for hitting and drills. But to be fair about this hourly rate charge, some coaches have to charge a higher amount because they are renting/leasing the court and the facility manager is charging a lot for the court.

For awhile, I was charging about $30 for workout drills which included technique work and doubles work if it was a doubles team. But I had a great deal on the use of the courts which allowed me to charge that low.
 

goober

Legend
Bungalo Bill said:
Well good, I am really glad that helped. Have you tried to determine your criteria on what kind of coach your looking for and what you will use to measure which coach is the best choice?

I agree with you about the coach charging $50 for hitting and drills. But to be fair about this hourly rate charge, some coaches have to charge a higher amount because they are renting/leasing the court and the facility manager is charging a lot for the court.

My criteria are not that complex.

I want a coach that will work on my stroke mechanics and really analyze them. I think they are ok but I really have not had them analyzed since high school which was like 15 years ago.

Besides have a high knowledge he has to be able to impart this knowledge and try to reinforce it. I am probably going to go 1-2/week in the beginning. My goal is to get to a 4.5 level in a year or so. Realistic? I don't know. I was just rated into a 3.5-4.0 league by some instructor.

Money is not going to be a crucial factor I have decided as long as it is reasonable.
 
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