How To Become a Tennis Coach

Ever heard the term “tennis pro”? While it might seem that this means a person who plays professional tennis, it can also refer to a person who makes a living by coaching tennis.

In fact, one of the major certifications for tennis coaches is called the Teaching Professional Certification. Those looking to make tennis their job have several avenues they can use if they want to coach, and we’ll explore them here.

To become a tennis coach, you must first have a love and understanding of tennis, enough experience playing the game yourself, and complete education and certification programs related to tennis coaching.

Is A College Degree Required?

Nope. You don’t have to get a bachelor’s degree in order to be qualified to teach tennis. However, a college degree would be helpful and would increase your earning potential. If you’re looking to coach tennis full-time, the following degree programs would be most beneficial to you:

  • Kinesiology (the study of the mechanics of human movement)
  • Physical Education (focused on teaching fitness and sports to children in elementary, middle, or high school)
  • Sports or Exercise Science (includes elements of kinesiology and exercise physiology)
  • Sports Psychology (learn to help players with the mental aspects of sports)

Just because you’ve got a degree in one of the above fields doesn’t mean that you’re qualified to work directly with tennis players. You’ll still need some credentials provided by tennis organizations, which we’ll explore below.

USTA Certifications

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) has fully accredited the two following organizations. These certifications are nationally recognized, so tennis coaches can go all over the country in their search to find a tennis coaching job.

  • United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA)

The USPTA offers multiple certifications, starting with the tennis instructor category. This is an excellent credential for those who haven’t been to college, who are planning to teach tennis seasonally, or those who just want to make a little extra money on the side.

The teaching professional certification is more in-depth. Coaches looking to receive this certification are required to work with a USPTA-approved mentor for six to nine months and complete 300 hours of classroom education. This classroom education can be online or in-person.

In an effort to keep tennis safe for everyone involved, prospective teaching professionals are also subject to a USTA Safe Play program and background check.

For those who have made a life and a living being a tennis coach, the USPTA offers an additional certification called the Master Professional. This requires ten years of being a tennis professional coach, 80 hours of specialist courses, and a complete portfolio to be considered with an application.

  • Professional Tennis Registry (PTR)

This organization provides a path to tennis coaching through its extensive membership program. Although it has an upfront cost, being a member of the PTR comes with many benefits. They have a resource library for coaches, various workshops and courses, and assessments. These all help with getting your initial certification to be a tennis coach.

However, PTR offers lots of continuing education opportunities and job postings. It also operates in 125 countries and has 16,000 members, so being a part of the PTR is a great way to network and grow your professional contact list. Become a member of the PTR

ITF Coaching

The International Tennis Federation also offers coaching programs that are more suited to people in countries that don’t have a “well-established domestic coach education framework,” such as the USTA certification process. Coaches can get certificates to teach players based on their International Tennis Number (ITN). 

As a quick overview, the ITN is a guide to how skilled players are based on predetermined characteristics. The lower the number, the more capable the player.

Typical ratings are from an ITN of 1 to an ITN of 10, although there is a subcategory of players with ratings of 10.1, 10.2, and 10.3. These beginners play with red, orange, or green tennis balls, which play more slowly than standard yellow balls. They may also play on smaller courts. 

Again, the smaller number indicates a higher skill level, so a 10.1 player is more advanced than a 10.3 player.

Certification Levels

  • Play Tennis Course, 32 hours. 

If you’re looking to work with beginners or children, this certification is the one for you. It allows you to work with players who have an ITN of 10 and requires 32 hours of tutor contact. 

  • Coaching Beginner & Intermediate Player Course ITN 6, 80 hours. 

Move up to work with players who have an ITN rating of 6 by completing 80 hours of tutor contact. 

  • Coaching Advanced Players Course ITN 3, 80 hours. 

Another 80 hours of tutor contact will unlock access to players with an ITN of 3. 

  • Coaching High-Performance Players Course. 88 hours. 

Work with the best of the best (ITN of 1) after completing 88 hours of tutor contact.

Tutor contact hours are when a trainee coach spends on the court working with a coach who has already achieved that level of certification. It doesn’t include any classroom time or self-directed study.

Since the ITF works with regional and national tennis associations, their website offers contact information for the organizations that put on courses and provide coaching education in accordance with the ITF requirements.

At the time of this writing, there are 120 member nations use the coaching programs offered by the ITF Coaches Commission.

Coaching Mindset

Just because you’re good at playing tennis doesn’t mean you’ll make a good coach. In fact, some of the best coaches in the world never played their sport at a professional level or had mediocre professional careers. 

Craig Tyzzer received the 2019 WTA Coach of the Year award and was never ATP ranked. But now, he works with Ashleigh Barty, who is a highly ranked women’s single-player and two-time Grand Slam champ.

A good coach needs to be able to inspire players and explain the mechanics of what they’re doing. They also need to make the learning aspect of the sport fun and encourage players to push their boundaries in a healthy way. 

Coaches can be incredibly influential, especially coaches who work with children, and a tennis coach needs to understand how to relate to their players in a holistic way.

More than being able to help students see progress and uplift them when needed, coaches need to like the physical environment of a tennis court. Whether you’re doing private one-on-one coaching, working with a high school team or working at a club, you’ll most likely spend most of your working hours on your feet and outside in the elements.

Continuing education is critical for coaches, as well. Keep up with the rules and trends of the game. Know the current professional players and use them as examples. Research and implement a variety of drills and exercises for your players. These things will help your players trust your advice and guidance.

Tennis Coaching Work Environments

There are plenty of opportunities in the world of tennis coaching. Some players may teach at their local recreation centers or YMCAs during the summer. 

These are usually geared towards younger students, and these can be great places for teenage or college-age players to get some coaching experience. Camps also need tennis coaches, whether these are dedicated tennis camps or fun summer sleep-away that offer tennis as one of the activities.

Schools also need tennis coaches since many high schools and even some middle schools offer tennis as a class and an after-school activity. Colleges may have tennis classes that students can take to complete their physical education requirements. They also provide intramural tennis leagues and NCAA teams.

If you’re not really that interested in working with children, tennis clubs offer group classes and private tennis lessons.

Some patrons might even be interested in private lessons, which can make a coach more money. And, of course, those who gain a reputation for coaching strong professional players can work with some of the best professional tennis players in the world, especially if they’ve received the Master Professional Certification described above.


Whether you’re interested in making some quick cash over the summer or you want to dedicate your life to coaching tennis, there is a way to capitalize on your love for the game.

Being a great coach isn’t dependent on being a great player. Anyone with a knowledge of tennis, a proper path to certification, and good people skills can become an excellent coach to players at a variety of levels.

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