TAKEAWAYS FROM THE PTR/PPR VIRTUAL TENNIS SYMPOSIUM
By Rich Neher
Where do I begin? Big Kudos to Dan Santorum and his staff. They were able to put up a really interesting event and I'm quite sure Brian Parkkonen had his expert hand in this, too. Hats off to the PTR for recognizing the relevance of pickleball by giving it a full day of presentations vs three days for tennis. And the attendance speaks volumes: 1,450 Coaches from 61 countries!
Over a hundred speakers, many of them outstanding professionals, made it worthwhile to tune into that symposium. I loved the fact that most speakers only had 20 minutes to get their points across and that worked really well in my opinion.
I want also applaud to whoever put the list of speakers together. Nice to see such great diversity in terms of race and gender. Good job, PTR. To put that into perspective, I made an effort and looked at the ratio of male to female speakers at the PTR/PPR Virtual Symposium and two other events. Are you guys ready for that?
PTR/PPR Virtual Symposium 2:1
Winning Summit (Feb 26-28) 3:1 (as of Feb 22)
World Tennis Conference (March 25-28) 30:1 (as of Feb 22)
I was pretty much speechless reading those numbers.
When I first looked at the lineup of speakers I thought to myself, "Oh God, the same boring people you see at every conference. Loehr, Kovacs, Bollettieri and... you know their names. But when I listened to Jim Loehr, I slowly started to change my mind. He was talking about "The Power of Perspective" and his presentation made me think. If I change my perspective I change my perception of reality. Makes sense. He was putting COVID in perspective and reminded us what our ancestors had to go through with diseases like the Plague to enable us to have the live we have. Powerful stuff in my opinion.
Nick Bollettieri talked about the "Qualities of a Successful Coach" and that was another interesting presentation I am happy to have experienced. He gave us six qualities and it all made sense to me.
Craig O'Shannessy was interesting since he worked with Warren Pretorius of Tennis Analytics on his "A Million Points of College Tennis" presentation. When two excellent minds like that get together you can expect impressive results.
I liked Doug Cash's presentation about "The Top Ten Things Every Director Should Do in 2021. My favorite was no. 4, making sure you have a ROBUST BEGINNERS PROGRAM and adding growing tennis to the job description of every pro in your club. Especially those pros whose PTR or USPTA dues are being paid on condition they find at least 48 new players a year.
Pickleballers were very well represented at the conference. One of them stood out but more about Jason Jamison later. I liked Ken Herrmann's no-nonsense style of teaching us how to run a financially successful pickleball tournament. I couldn't help thinking that his tips and comments alone will make you 10 times as much money as the entire conference had cost. Ken Herrmann is the CEO and Creative Founder of the APP Tour - The Association of Pickleball Professionals, the first sanctioned USA Pickleball tour for both professionals and amateurs with a total purse of $700k. He knows what he's talking about!
PPR Clinician Taylor Taylor was a tennis pro for 20 years and migrated to pickleball. Her presentation "Buying Time! And Taking it Away from your Opponents" was quite insightful. She's a pickleballer with real practical ideas and tips that help our game.
Whenever I see Claire Carter on a list of speakers I try and watch her - just for the accent alone. (Just kidding.) And here she teamed up with another Brit, Alistair Higham, to give a 2-part presentation of "Understanding the demands of the game." Everything the two professionals with those impressive backgrounds said was match-focused which made it even more interesting. I loved the graphics with the "batteries" and some of the match video scenes. Nicely done!
Former touring star Gigi Fernandez doesn't need an introduction. She is a sought-after speaker and she always makes sure that people who pay to see her actually get something out of it. Her presentation "5 secrets to successful doubles." was designed for just that.
Suzanne Williams and coach Jo Ward had some very intriguing slides to share, demonstrating the link between physique and technique in forehand groundstrokes of female players. As a byproduct, they were able to also make the case for not letting men (Transgender women) compete with women by showing the real differences between male and female bodies. Differences hormone treatments are not able to eliminate in my opinion..
Jamea Jackson's presentation was more useful than others from the USTA in my opinion, giving real tips for the transition from a pro tour player to becoming a coach and teacher. Nice. I can only imagine how tough it is stepping into Lynne Rolley's shoes at the USTA. Martin Blackman's speech was posted as "How to be a Master Coach."
I want to point out a few presenters who did an outstanding job in my humble opinion.
Corey Gauff gave one of my favorite presentations. His daughter no doubt is on her way to represent the future of American Tennis and "Coaching a Performance Athlete" gave us a really good insight into doing it right - the Corey Gauff way. He came across as genuine, sincere, experienced. I was very impressed.
Whenever the country Norway is mentioned anywhere lately, I think of Christina Mihaela Carare and Nordic Tennis. Her area of expertise, of course, is "How to Get Results with Social Media." Tennis professionals can not only learn how to use social media effectively but also how to become excellent in self-promotion. And both go hand in hand in my opinion.
Lynne Rolley has had (and still has) a marvelous career in tennis. The PTR Board member was presented in conversation with Joel Drucker about "Lessons from a Legendary Coach." I absolutely loved it. I learned a lot that I had no idea about. Like, she was the first Head of Women's Tennis at the USTA when Stan Smith and Arthur Ashe created the brand new Player Development Department in 1988.
If I had to list my all-time favorite speakers, Jason Jameson is most definitely one of them. I can to this day not understand why the USTA let him go. The Certified Professional and National Clinician with the Professional Pickleball Registry is the real package. Knows his stuff and knows how to present it. No wonder HEAD put him on the Pickleball Advisory Staff. His three presentations were 1. How to Conduct the Perfect Pickleball Clinic" and 2. "Programs and Services to hel YOU!" and 3. a two-hour Master Class. Very enjoyable. Lot's to learn.
Michele Krause is the other of my two favorite speakers. I love the fact that the former Cardio Tennis Guru is successful in her inTENNsity.com business. The "Tennis Fitness Integrity Specialist" presented the "Ultimate Group Fitness Class" and made sure we learned that these classes are tennis-focused. She also held a Master Class - "inTENNSity Fitness Games: How to Maintain the Standard." Outstanding program explained and demonstrated by the best in the tennis fitness business.
Whether you have a lineup of 25 or 125 high-class speakers, a tennis convention or symposium is only complete when our man from Nashville, Bill Riddle is included. (Hendersonville, Tennessee, to be exact.) We have all seen Bill as the experienced presenter of tennis coaching and programming, someone who makes playing and teaching the sport look so easy. This year's PTR/PPR convention, however, saw Bill in a different role and I liked that, too: Trivia Master.
He was leading through the most complicated life (and tennis) questions with skill and his usual sharp humor. Loved it!
All in all, I think the virtual PTR/PPR Symposium was a resounding success. I'm sorry I couldn't see all the presentations, there were too many taught by a lot of very good people. Thank you, all! And thank you, PTR.
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