ABOUT KARL & THE WEBSITE

Who is this website for?

It’s for you if you are a tennis coach – any kind of tennis coach, but particularly a coach who is interested in running a tennis coaching business or being a head coach. It is intended to be a resource for everything tennis coaching – from on-court things like drills, coaching methods and tips to lots of info about the business and management side of coaching.

It’s also for you if you are involved in the running of a club – for the last 3 years I’ve been manager of our club, a well as Head Tennis Coach. So I have a bit to offer in that area as well………….

Karl tennis coach
Karl Stowell Tennis Coaching

My Story

About 10 years ago, I can remember sitting in bed at about 6am with my laptop on my lap, desperately trying to get all my admin work done before going off to do a full day on court coaching.

I was Head Coach at Oxshott Tennis Club, a beautiful leafy green affluent part of Surrey, England. I was having some success with the programme – good numbers in the club programme, schools on board and tennis camps in particular were really taking off.

But……….I was stressed. I had no website, I was running the programme using excel spreadsheets, chasing late payments all the time, overrun with email and phone messages, terrible systems for marketing (like trying to design leaflets on Word and printing 100s on my home printer). I could go on………

But it’s funny how we find a way to do things when we really need to – in a few months, a lot happened…….

  • I watched a Youtube video which showed me how to get a basic website up and running in just a few minutes using WordPress. This led to a bit of an obsession with learning WordPress and creating gradually better and better websites for myself and others.
  • I learned a simple way to take online bookings to automate lots of processes, particularly tennis camp bookings. I still use it now.
  • I discovered some software to manage the whole programme – database, class registers, invoicing, email / SMS / attendance records, financials. It’s called Tennisbiz and I still use it now.
  • I discovered the joy of outsourcing tasks such as designing leaflets. At the time I used  fiverr.com to get print-ready flyers designed for tennis camps for only $5 and had 1000s printed for maybe £50.
  • I started messing around with Photoshop and learned to use it to a good enough level, which I still do all the time.
  • I switched from using Outlook for my day-to-day emails to Gmail, which made such a big difference and I’ll write about that soon.

There is more, but basically I just started using better systems and things kept improving from there. I definitely don’t know it all and I’m always learning from other coaches out there, but I have picked up lots of useful tips, tricks, methods and hacks – this website is my way of keeping track of them and hopefully helping others as well.

My Coaching Career

I started coaching at 17, helping out at Oxshott Tennis Club, where I had been a junior. After coming and going for a few years, I eventually became Head Coach at Oxshott and stayed in that role for many years. It’s a great club and the coaching business really took off there.

I left Oxshott in 2013 with a not-so-positive ending –  involving a story you hear quite often in the UK about quite a difficult club committee. I then set up a tennis coaching business which was not linked to a club. I was determined (wrongly) that I would never work at a club again after my negative experience at the end. It was HARD trying to run a coaching business without a club at the heart of it. Several venues – parks, schools, village halls, each with it’s own complications. And a constant battle to get good numbers in the programme without a club to feed into and progress through.

I struggled on with this for a year and a half, but thankfully and fatefully applied successfully for the Head Coach job at Sutton Tennis & Squash Club (STSC), where I have been since the beginning of 2015. I LOVE this club – from the committee who manages it to the members to the amazing team of coaches. The club feels like it has it all – you might see a player ranked inside the top 500 ATP training on one court, with mini tennis happening on the next court, a disability session on the next and good old adult social tennis on a few more courts. The Men’s team have won the National Title 3 times, but it really is a social every-day kind of a club.

Although credit is due to lots of people at STSC (coaches, members and management), I’m proud that we’ve built the coaching programme into something great – LOADS of kids on the programme, 10-12 schools and tennis camps that are even bigger and better than my Oxshott days.

And finally............

In 2017 the club had a crazy idea to try to combine the Head Tennis Coach role with an overall Club Manager role, which I successfully applied for. This has involved living at the club and taking on all kinds of new responsibilities – managing membership, marketing the club, overseeing maintenence, health & safety, communication with members, social events, bar & catering. What can I say except it’s been a steep learning curve but one that I really enjoy. I have picked up a few new skills along the way.

I passed my level 5 coaching (Master Club Coach) award in 2017, after a hard couple of years on the course.

And if you have made it to the end of this very long About Me page, well done!

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