Let me tell you something: we all know that tennis is a magnificent sport to transform lives and develop many values in those who play it, learn it, and enjoy it in all forms. We also know that tennis is a game for lifetime.
More than 21 years ago I published a book called Tennis Concept 6/90 in which I described many ideas, concepts, principles, and proposals to develop and grow in our sport. It is a tennis development book. Its name is precisely a proposal for clubs, academies, regional and national organizations to build a highway from 6 to 90 years old, with programs, attractions, innovation, participation models and competitions with services for all ages. Today it appears that I should probably have titled it “Concept 4/90”. I was glad when ITF took some of these concepts and put them into practice some years ago.
One of the fundamental reasons for writing my thoughts is that on many occasions we stopped promoting, creating, proposing, “selling”, stimulating people to participate in our sport for its own value with all the social, physiological, physical, mental benefits that it contributes. It is worth remembering and recovering the research and publications on them from the 90’s by Jack Groppel to understand that our sport is complete, beneficial, and accessible to all and that no matter how much high performance attracts us, is precisely participation. and development for all, which makes it an almost unique sport.
And when I speak of “Selling Tennis” it is precisely because we believe that we must assume that at all levels we are part of the service and entertainment industry. We are an industry. We must behave like that. We serve others. We connect with people, we create interaction, we attend to their aspirations to play whatever they are. We are in that type of industry. We build bridges with people by creating relationships through tennis. That is why it is so important to understand what they want, what they need, and what our client is looking for when playing and participating.
More than 20 years after its publication, I believe that in many ways we still do not fully understand that the values of that culture of service for a club, academy, tennis organization or the place that people choose is precisely fundamental to create a culture of the consumer understanding and making programs taking care of what they want, which are own client’s preferences.
Today more than ever before, technology and its various resources help us to capture information and understand consumer behavior, culture, needs, behavior patterns, dreams, and desires. Some come because they want to learn very technically, others want to be fit, many who want to make friends and share, others come to be with their family, many others want to feel integrated, recognized with value and feel the sense of belonging.
Belonging and being recognized is one of the deepest impact forces in the service culture. Feeling welcome, recognized, that you are a part, that you are known and appreciated, that you are welcomed to the club, to the tennis program, to the participation system.
It is sometimes very striking and perhaps ironic when the organizations complain of losing dans and players, when precisely they do not train all the members of the tennis development structure to create attraction, traction, and retention, the three fundamental columns of the service culture. We do not understand the client and what is worse, when he leaves, we do not even try to understand why, and after that learn and adjust. Not to mention calling them to keep in touch. We fail at continuity and repeat business.
I know more than 100 clubs in various countries that do not have a customer service system, automated booking, data capture, trends, tastes, and game preferences and so much more. They did same forms and strategies of more than 40 years ago and more are repeated, in our own category as coaches we repeat the same concepts without manage and promote more quality in our programs.
if we understood the importance of the innovation that every product and service company implement, we would not only be creating new proposals daily, but as a sport we would have the philosophy of seeking, listening, learning from those who think differently. We would encourage innovation and creativity. There is a chapter in Tennis 6/90, on to how to train, to prepare our on-court tennis coaches’ team to be agents of motivation, recruitment, retention, and change.
That is another point: every leader is an agent of change. We need as a sport to understand the importance of our industry, our sport and activity and prepare ourselves with the level of importance, responsibility, commitment, and value that it entails and create environments to improve. how to certify, train and develop coaches and managers with those senses
There is so much to improve. We have an extraordinary sport, which can be much better, for those who play, those who learn, those who teach, those who compete and those who organize. There are so many windows of opportunity that it is brave and motivating to know that we have many opportunities for growth.
Today, technological advances allow us to change court reservation systems, know how much people play, when, how, if they compete, improve participation and competition systems. We can be connected, know their needs, establish patterns of behavior, analyze the players, have more data, parents’ programs, interactive competitions, record them and know what they do. We can also use artificial intelligence, improve our capacity for fan engagement, produce better organization, educational, participative platforms, greater following and knowledge for tennis people and more that it is very extensive for a single article.
However, the human factor will always be the key.
Understand each other and understand the other. Create relationships, encourage them to play in different ways. Connect, connect, and connect and based on all the information regardless of the group, the player, the team, adapt our programs to serve them, encourage and train all our people and deeply know that we are a service and entertainment industry. We are what we produce in the others learning from other service industries that are far ahead of us.
That is why we created TBD Tennis Innovation Week to innovate transforming tennis, to respect our core values, to create strategies for everyone, to listen to many key leaders from various areas of the tennis industry creating a pathway to the future, like never happened before.
The leadership of any industry projects where it wants to be in a certain amount of time and commitment. This is our legacy. Being a service entity, which could be your club, academy, tennis courts, tennis coaches’ teams, any tennis organization where create the future, today, with proactive and innovative actions.
We can always be better as a sport.
Next article I will write some suggestions to do