Founder, Tennis Marketer
Ryan is the founder of Tennis Marketer, an agency dedicated to helping tennis coaches and business owners take their tennis businesses to the next level.
With a mathematics degree, a background as a Systems Developer and close connections with world class social media experts, Ryan has combined his passion for tennis as a tennis coach to harness the power of social media, automation and business development strategies and help other tennis coaches and business owners to take their tennis businesses to the next level.
INTERNATIONAL MOVEMENT TO 'MOVE THE NEEDLE'
By Ryan Hanrahan
The time for Tennis to get out of the ’70s and ’80s has come. What I mean by that is…. How are we as a sport running the game? We haven’t updated with the times in many areas. Often for good reasons as well as out of laziness.
Rich Neher in his article last month wrote about ‘moving the needle’ which means to make a significant difference. The question is how we do that. I believe to move the needle we need a movement of many in the Tennis World.
We need you as coaches and business owners to stand up and push for the results that are infectious, inspiring others to push to the next level. We are then encouraging and pushing each other in a team mentality to continue to do so. And before you know it, you have a ripple effect of change and the needle moving further than imaginable.
But it has to start somewhere. Who will affect the change?
How I propose to ‘Move the Needle’ and avoid following Grandpa who is stuck in his ways and ideas.
‘Moving the needle’ comes from the belief of the people. Belief comes from getting behind someone or someone’s who has their back. Let’s call these people leaders.
What is a leader? A leader is someone who isn’t a boss and dictates how you should do things, but a leader is someone who leads by example, they get out there and do the hard yards. They will go over and beyond for the cause and look after as many people as they can. Not for their own good but for the good of the whole cause and for each individual who believes in their mission and vision.
It might be Fernando Segal who is a director of “a leading company for the development of Marketing, Communication and Strategic Innovation Tools” or it could be someone like Noel Walsh with his Tennis Investor business helping find and fund different tennis events, projects, products, and players while cooperating with lots of others like Tennis Marketer to help ‘move the needle’.
These two leaders and influencers in the Tennis world definitely have a good chance to ‘Move the Needle’ but they are going to need the help of those they influence to really get behind them. They will need to keep pulling innovators and influencers together for the best interest of Tennis.
We have many leaders out there but who are you willing to get behind? Who really has your back? There are no wrong or right answers instantly. This comes over time. What I am saying here is leaders don’t just appear to have your back they actually have your back. They will do what almost no one else will do for you, things you don’t even feel comfortable with letting them do out of politeness and even a sense of guilt.
Let’s have a look at what they might do to ‘Move the Needle’ in Tennis. To do that, we have to look at what makes up Tennis. Tennis is a game played between 2 or 4 people where they compete to keep the ball in the court longer than the opponent. I know you all know this but let’s dwell on it for a moment.
This is the game we have all come to learn to love. It’s the game we teach, play, and support. It’s about playing the game and not about anything else outside of that.
What are the moving parts of the game that we need to look after? The two major players in any sport just like Tennis are the players and the fans and often these two overlap. Actually, we want these to overlap as much as possible.
What is it that players need and what is it that fans need? Add on top of that what is it that players want and what is it that fans want? Once we can keep focused on this we can really start to begin to ‘Move the needle’
This is not a guessing game or a game where we think for a while (doesn’t matter if it’s a short or long period of time) and put together a list we think the players and fans want. It takes care, it takes communication with the players and the fans. Find out their desires and general problems. What can Tennis do to solve the problems and fulfill the desires?
How do we find out what these things are? Start with communicating with the players and fans of the game you know. Record any piece of valuable information but be sure to be open-minded and really have your listening ears on.
Forget about being a coach and instructor for the moment and let them teach. ‘To teach and educate you first must learn to be taught and be educated’. You can’t pass on something you don’t first possess which is true in the physical sense as well. ‘No one can pass the basketball without first having the basketball’. Once you possess the knowledge to teach after first listening you will be able to teach a whole lot more effectively.
Action time. There is no point at all doing all the work to find out what people are looking for and not delivering the program(s) that suit. How do your teaching methods, philosophies, and values align with the feedback that you received from the players, fans, and parents?
One thing to note is that you can’t just have awesome programs. That almost means nothing without the social atmosphere, the energetic atmosphere, and the sense of community, where it is a place everyone can feel like they belong.
You want it to be a place, underline the word place here as a real physical place. This place is a place that creates a buzz. It is just so fun to go to and participate. It can’t help but grow. Word of mouth spreads like wildfire.
Before you get on your high horse about having fun, I will clear up a few things. Fun is not the opposite of competition and wanting to take things to the next level. In fact, these two-work hand in hand together. You can’t truly have fun without achieving and you truly can’t achieve without first enjoying what you are doing. It’s like the chicken and the egg…which one comes first. It doesn’t matter in this scenario as they work together.
Let’s quickly go through a small study on why Competition is important.
Decline in the number of players who compete. There are less Club Players and Opportunities to play Tournaments and leagues. This could be for many reasons, but I attribute this to playing sport just to participate in healthy activities. Not that this is wrong, but this low level of motivation will only attract the game for a short time. It won’t cause long term commitment in most people.
Here is a quick Marathon Example. In 1983, 79 UK athletes ran under 2 hours and 20 mins for the 40km Marathon whereas in 2003 only 1 lonely athlete ran under 2 hours and 20mins. You might think that less people were running Marathons but that is the complete opposite to the truth. Many more people were running Marathons in 2003 but there was a decline in the top runners.
Casual runners would often say, ‘I have to continually motivate myself to do this’. You see they had no motivation to compete or improve themselves. They just had to make it through the Marathon itself. This was the achievement most people were going for. And I would like to add that is a great achievement coming from an angle where I have never completed a Marathon to this day.
The dropout was high because the motivation level was low. Do we really want this for Tennis? To have people play only to say they have tried tennis. No, we want people to achieve and love coming back to Tennis because they improve in a social environment.
Good thing for players to play for health reasons. Competition is much more meaningful and social’ – Dan Travis
Competition does not mean that everyone has to be the best player, but natural competitiveness will drive the game to grow. The number of people who come down to play Tennis, Spec Tennis, Table Tennis, etc you will find they start scoring, even if they come up with their own way to do it. It creates a bit of excitement hitting with their friend.
They don’t go and banter with each other in a full-on way. Maybe some will banter in a playful way while others won’t at all after the match. The point though is there is no emphasis on the loser at all. But they loved it and will do it again if offered to them.
Pulling all this together we now have an academy, school, or club that will grow to be a popular sport and activity in their local community.
Maybe this could be too overwhelming for you to handle but this is where I come in. I run ’Tennis Marketer’ which helps Develop, Market, and Manage Tennis Academies, Schools, and Clubs. The aim here is to have coaches focusing on coaching and training new and upcoming coaches in the system while their business grows and develops in the direction they desire. It’s about working ON their Tennis Business not so much IN the business and doing every little thing.
Tennis Marketer will provide all the help, tools, mentorship, training, and implementation that coaches and clubs need. Tennis Marketer is supported by Jimi and the team from Legacy Digital Agency helping Fitness trainers and Gym Owners do the same.
The big picture of Tennis Marketer is to encourage and form connections with other coaches so players can compete and have a pathway they can look forward to, no matter what age, level, or goals they have.
Using the Star Rating System Model which works off Competencies and Skill Level - http://www.tenniscoachacademy.net/home. I propose the pathway goes something similar to this
Starting with your Club/Academy and having players play within their grading. Over a period of a month or two, they can have a ladder on how they are going. There are a few really cool apps such as www.sportch.co.uk that can handle a constant ongoing ladder.
Once you have had a bit of a run and getting some flow with your in-house club ladders you then invite the top 4 to 10 players for example within each age and grade to compete against other clubs within the area.
Make a weekend or a couple of weekends out of it. Invite the community to participate and get behind the event.
Turn it into a carnival atmosphere within and outside of the tennis. Have the local businesses come down and support. You can even have a local business competition. Ideas are endless in this space. Live stream the event through social media and get local media involved.
I can tell you this, if you can make it an event that the community gets involved with and you can showcase the best players, they will be impressed with the level of play and start becoming players and fans of the game. This is where you have sign-up stalls for each club and academy. To keep it civilized you have an agreement to be ethical with the local clubs involved.
Commit to the event. Set a challenge in your mind and write it down where you will be satisfied once complete. And most importantly have the courage to have the concentration to gain control. This will give you confidence leading up to the event and into future events and goals
Now you can make it inter-area. Maybe this will range over the whole city depending on the size and popularity of Tennis. For the country people (people outside of the city) you can create a wider event, taking turns who hosts the event each half-year or a year.
From here you can really start creating a mini-Olympics type of idea with all the clubs promoting it on social media and even the local media is doing the same. Schools, Universities, Colleges, etc can get behind it and promote their courses and programs. Live streaming can also happen here.
State Competition would be the next level. This is where you can focus on the top players in each age group over a certain age and make a thing of it. Swimming in Aus. would have State Age and State Open if you wanted to split it into categories.
Have novelty events for the lower levels or any niche you think suits. It is a great opportunity also to charge a little to be a fan of the bigger matches e.g., Quarters to Finals. Also, have this run like a mini-Olympics where you can score points for your club or area. Create patriotism.
Now for the last National level and that is a State v State competition. Build up the excitement like the ATP Cup. Living in Sydney, I experienced how much more excitement and support the general public provided for the ATP Cup compared to the regular knock-out singles and doubles tournaments and I believe these kinds of events will really springboard the popularity of Tennis.
And please note this isn’t to replace Wimbledon, US Open, French, or the Aussie Open.
In Australia we have a big event called the State of Origin where New South Wales (State of Sydney) and Queensland (State of Brisbane) compete in 3 games a year in the Rugby League. The build-up is huge and the players go into camp for a week and a half before the game. There is banter between the two states and bragging rights for the winner.
Now imagine having this for all the states in Australia. Tennis is played in every State whereas Rugby League has only two. And there is no reason why this is just an Australian Concept. It can really work all over the world and all that needs to be worked out is the logistics.
I hope you enjoyed the read on how I propose to ‘Move The Needle’ and make Tennis the biggest sport in the world with an atmosphere that can’t be rivaled.
Ryan's website tennismarketer.com.au
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