Do you enjoy playing tennis? Do you want to help tennis players stay injury-free and improve their sport-specific fitness levels? If yes, you may want to consider training tennis players as a career niche.
According to a survey from the Tennis Industry Association (TIA 2012), over 28 million people in the United States play tennis each year. Business-wise, tennis players can provide a great source of clients—if you have the interest and knowledge to effectively help them.
Discover how different personal trainers are working with tennis players and how you can succeed with this market.
Personal trainers work individually with tennis players in different settings. For example, trainers at Suncoast Pilates in Palm Harbor, Florida, conduct one-on-one mat or equipment sessions to address individual needs. “Pilates is perfect for tennis players because it works on a balanced body, strengthens what needs to be strengthened, and stretches what needs to be stretched,” says Patricia Welter, studio owner.
Other trainers work in more than one location. “I train tennis players at Sarasota Tennis, located inside Payne Park Tennis Center, during our after-school program,” says Kristi Schalch Gutierrez, owner of Train with Kristi in Sarasota, Florida. “I also train outdoors at a tennis court or inside at Embody Fitness & Wellness Studio, for a more private strength conditioning program,” she adds.
LaRue Cook, MHA, JD, CSCS, owner of LEC Fitness LLC, in Alexandria, Virginia, has trained tennis athletes ranging from adolescents to college athletes to adult players. “One-on-one work enables me to focus on the specific needs of individual athletes, as well as to work their training into their respective match-playing schedules. I train them outside and preferably on a tennis court to develop the type of conditioning needed for tennis. I also meet with them in a studio to develop the requisite strength important to increasing their power for tennis. Both types of training are important for reducing injury and for success on the court.”
Small Groups and Workshops
Some personal trainers conduct group workouts, which provide a fun, social way for tennis players to develop the conditioning they need. These workouts can also serve as a feeder system for one-on-one work.
For example, Gutierrez teaches Tennis Fit at Sarasota Tennis. “I designed this class to allow beginning through advanced players to improve their fitness level for tennis and learn and improve their tennis skills. The first half is a circuit training format that targets core strength, agility, strength endurance, power and more. Then we work on live ball-feeding drills, focusing on different strokes, and end with fun games.”
Some trainers also lead TIA’s Cardio Tennis® classes. “This group activity features drills to give players of all abilities a high-energy workout,” explains Michele Krause, TIA Global Cardio tennis manager in University Park, Florida. “Another group option is the new TRX® Cardio Tennis, which integrates the TRX Suspension Training® system into the program,” she says.
Cook has led tennis conditioning clinics in environments such as country clubs, tennis clubs, schools and universities. “I also offer train-the-trainer workshops and consultations to help tennis coaches, parents, physical therapists and other personal trainers understand the specific needs of the tennis player as they relate to competing in tennis,” he notes.
Why train tennis players? Because it can enhance your business in important ways.
Increasing earning potential. “With over 25 million tennis players, there’s a big pool of possible clients,” observes Mark Kovacs, PhD, FACSM, executive director of the International Tennis Performance Association.
“Anytime you can expand your services to a specific sport, your investment will eventually pay off,” says Michael Saiz, owner of VO2 Max and personal trainer at Fitness Connection in Reno, Nevada.
Group work can be lucrative and can provide an adjunct—and a change of pace—from one-on-one clients. For example, clients will pay about $15–$20 per Cardio Tennis class, notes Krause. (Six to eight clients is an ideal number for the class, Krause adds.)
Establishing a career specialization. “Anytime personal trainers can create a niche, even if it is small, it will benefit their careers, especially if they participate in marketing and developing relationships with teaching pros,” advises Dale Huff, co-owner of NutriFormance Fitness, Therapy and Performance and of Athletic Republic Sports Performance Conditioning, both based in Frontenac, Missouri.
Retaining trainers. Plus, if you are a business owner, helping your trainers develop a tennis specialty may increase their retention. “The specialty allows my personal trainers to see a clientele they are passionate about training,” explains Huff. “Engaged trainers are passionate about the athletes they are training, have better floor presence and are happier at work; there- fore the business can retain them longer.”
Serving—and retaining—families. “Loving and playing the sport of tennis as a certified personal trainer has helped my business tremendously,” notes Gutierrez, who trains at the tennis facility her husband runs. “We are able to teach families as a whole,” she explains. “While the children play tennis, the parents take my Tennis Fit class or get a private training session. As children and adults see that fitness training can be fun and beneficial, they will want to continue training or playing tennis.”
Providing additional options. “My tennis training expertise has afforded me opportunities to grow my training business and expand my reach,” observes Cook. “In addition to hands-on training, I have authored dozens of tennis conditioning, exercise and injury prevention articles for national and international readers. These articles have increased my chances not only of training new clients, but also of consulting with those who are not in my immediate training radius.”
To attract tennis players, personal trainers use a variety of strategies.
Network with tennis pros. “We developed a relationship with a teaching pro who would refer his top kids to us,” explains Huff. “Plus, sometimes a pro’s client will train with us and we’ll ask him who his pro is and set up a time to meet the pro. Teaching pros are as passionate about helping their clients as trainers are, so usually these meeting requests are received very positively.”
Work with area clubs. Huff has also established a relationship with a high-end racquet club. “We give their members discounts on membership, write articles in their newsletters, participate in events at their club and more.”
Network with physical therapists. “I have received direct referrals from physical therapists who know of my work with athletes, specifically in postrehab,” Cook explains. “Establishing a relationship with them has helped my business tremendously and is a source that I continue to cultivate.”
Play tennis yourself. “While competing in local tennis tournaments and other tennis-related events, I often talk with other players about their injuries or recent exercise research,” Cook says. “This allows me to network and market my services.”
Use social media. In addition to word of mouth, Gutierrez promotes her training through Facebook and Instagram.
Winning a Grand Slam
If tennis is a love of yours and you learn to work with tennis players effectively, this specialty niche can be a grand slam for your business. Personal trainers who work with tennis athletes and are players themselves say that it can be extremely satisfying to help other players enhance their game through fitness expertise.
TIA (Tennis Industry Association). 2012. State of the industry. http://www.tennisindustry.org/cms/index.cfm/news/tennis-participation-grows-4-in-us/; accessed Feb. 5, 2014.