Bill Patton

With the publication of The Athlete Centered Coach, Bill Patton is working hard to influence sports culture globally. There is a revolution going on in coaching, and Bill has always colored outside the lines, so he is ready for new lines to be drawn. He used to take his toys apart to see how they worked. He turned those experiences into a strength. Now he creates innovative templates so that others can build on success and make it their own. 


He is most proud of winning an NCS Championship and becoming a published author for the first time. Once when trying to speak another language to a player, he thought he was asking if she was embarrassed, but he used the word for pregnant. That got sorted out later.


Bill Patton is Tennis Professional and is currently coaching his 10th different high school with 30+ years of experience in the field. He has coached at several schools with many great results. Mainly, the players had a great time maximizing their games and playing on the teams. He is now featured on, with three different tennis courses.

Bill and his business partner Styrling Strother have started USATennisCoach, LLC, which trains, certifies, mentors, and collaborates with high school tennis coaches.

Bill, a Maverick Leader, is co-founder of USATennisCoachl, a Catalyst for Omni Athlete: The Future of Sport, a PTR and MTM Professional.

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The Power of One


By Bill Patton


Maybe you remember one of the better comedy movies called City Slickers, with Billy Crystal and Jack Palance.  In the mysterious character, Curly played by Pallance gives advice pertaining to ‘The One Thing’.  He doesn’t really specify what The One Thing is, but that’s for the seeker to find.  There is a lot of power in being focused on ONE thing, ONE person at a time.  We want to grow our game and get clientS, note the capital S, then plural, and so we work very hard to get many, but in reality, we only gain or lose them ONE at a time.  We are losing thousands of tennis players ONE at a time.










You have lost a tennis player.  Jesus told a parable of the lost sheep.  The good shepherd had 100 sheep, but one was missing.  He could have ignored that and continued on with his 99, and you know, really prioritized the many, instead, he went to search for the lost sheep.  I don't know if you know much about sheep, but one thing they do is follow each other rather dumbly, so one lost sheep is really a threat to losing another one and another one. You get the drift.  Predators generally focus on ONE at a time, the weakest one.  There is some wisdom in the culling of the herd.  When a certain animal is so sickly that it can’t keep up, it also becomes a threat to the rest of the herd by slowing them down, and also spreading disease.  Sometimes losing ONE is the best thing that can happen.  When it becomes addition by subtraction. 

In 2013, I was being called upon to leave tennis, and I was working hard to get into another career, spending quite a bit of time training for tests, and setting up interviews. You wouldn’t be reading this right now if it were not for the power of ONE.  I spend an entire summer where I barely taught any tennis, and gasp, I lost my tan!  A large part of my frustration with tennis was the gatekeeping that happens, and the political ladder-climbing along with the pandering to the powerful to gain acceptance.  That has never been my gig.


Anyway, flashback to August 2013 late in the summer. One of my best tennis coach friends, Jeff Gonce was having a BBQ and he invited David Crain, who was taking care of Styrling Strother, who had come for a visit with Ken DeHart.  So if no Jeff, David, no Ken, then no meeting with Styrling. What ensued was an amazing friendship, collaboration, and inspiration.  Styrling was certain that something amazing was going to happen. I was skeptical. In short order, I began to have a major influx of interest from clients for tennis lessons, and I was back in the game.  Not long after that with much encouragement from Styrling, I began writing The Art of Coach High School Tennis and my voice in the sport began to grow.  Now 11 more books, 5 in print later, and some video courses, along with many new ‘friends’ found in social media, the power of ONE has been multiplied.  Styrling had no idea that I had an exit strategy. He is ONE person who made a fork in the road go this way, instead of that. 


We are losing thousands of tennis players ONE at a time.

Sometimes losing ONE
is the best thing that can happen.


You have a person right now that you can influence for good.  You have a player and maybe some parents that you can help make better decisions. You have a tennis coach friend who might really be struggling.  You may have a player at your club who makes others miserable.  You might need to add one or subtract one. One thing that I have noticed over the years, is that when I deal with the worst behaved children, creating expectations and boundaries, I can either bring them to this side, or have them leave.  What I see, when I do that is a healthier group. Also, the silent majority parents will take notice of my caring for the behavior in the program and word gets out in the community.  Bill cares about the character development of every ONE of his players and doesn’t let it slip.  When ONE player is removed from the program, then it seems that within the next few weeks THREE players join. 

When people join, treat them like everyone else. One smart business move that some companies make, is that when they offer a special deal to new customers, they also offer it to their loyal ones. Once you start taking people for granted, then your base will begin to erode. Remember that not only do we want to gain a new client, but we want to retain the longstanding one. Research shows that when a person attends their club twice per week, that they have a 99% retention rate, and that among the 1% that leave a club, the largest chunk of those people moved to a different city. Our mission is simple, the person in front of us, are they coming twice a week?  If not, get them to come. 

One thing that scares a lot of clubs is the idea of calling the membership or even emailing them.  They avoid that because they fear that the member will realize how little they are using the club and that it comes down to $487 per visit, which I have heard many times over the years people expressing how much it costs them.  What is wise?  Trying to keep a member that will then complain that they pay too much, or replace them with someone who is active? For every inactive that you help to make active consider the difference in the quality of life you make for that person. 

Bottom line, whatever the transaction is, whatever the conversation is, whoever the person is, be fully engaged with ONE person at a time and help them come toward you and your mission.  If they are unwilling, then allow them to go, because you will be making a better experience for the next ONE, and that will attract another ONE. 

FYI: Bill Patton will be speaking at the upcoming

Between the White Lines Summit Growing Tennis Post Code by Post Code

Once you start taking people for granted, then your base will begin to erode.

Remember that not only do we want to gain a new client, but we want to retain the longstanding one.