Becoming a certified tennis coach is easier than you might think. Most pros in the United States gain their certification by taking a 10-hour course, then paying a testing fee to become certified by one of the two main certifying agencies. There is even a home-study course leading to professional certification.
While it takes time to learn how to effectively teach private lessons, run drills and clinics, coach competitive players and understand the biomechanics of tennis strokes, there is relatively little training required to become certified. In fact, the Professional Tennis Registry and U.S. Professional Tennis Association certification workshop instructors spend much of their time preparing you for passing the test at the end of the workshop; if you study the course materials before you arrive, you will have a fairly good chance of passing the test if you have intermediate playing skills. Many prospective members don't even take a training course and simply sit for the test.
Certification tests measure your ability to spot and correct stroke errors, teach a private lesson, teach a group lesson, perform basic stroke and ball-feeding skills, and answer a variety of coaching-related questions on a written test. In addition to the written portion of the test administered in a classroom, on-court portions of the certification process cover the other areas. The error-detection and correction portion of the test may be conducted by an instructor on court or via a videotape. In this portion of the test, coaches watch a demonstration of a variety of strokes, purposely performed with one or more elements executed incorrectly, followed by the students identifying the errors and giving teaching corrections for each.
Professional Tennis Registry
The PTR is an international certifying agency located on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Founded in 1976 by tennis guru Dennis Van der Meer, the organization awards different levels of certification, including Professional, Instructor and Associate Instructor ratings. If you receive an Instructor or Associate rating after your certification test, you may re-test in an attempt to raise your rating. Members can apply for Master Professional recognition after 10 years of membership. The PTR also offers certification in wheelchair tennis.
U.S. Professional Tennis Association
The USPTA is very similar to the PTR in its certification program, awarding Professional 1, Professional 2, Professional 3 and wheelchair certificates. You may re-test and upgrade from the P2 and P3 levels. The certification requires passing a six-part test. Like the PTR, the USPTA offers dozens of certification workshops around the country throughout the year and a Master Pro level certification.
U.S. National Tennis Academy
The USNTA offers an at-home certification process that requires you to take 20 tests that you mail in upon completion, covering various aspects of teaching and coaching tennis. All tests are open book and you must earn a score of 70 percent or better on each of the 20 tests. You can complete the certification process at your own pace.
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