If I Was In Charge of the LTA…
Here’s what I’d do…
1. Change the priorities of the LTA to growing the game at grass root level – Currently the game is shrinking with many clubs and courts disappearing at an alarming rate
2. Rename the LTA to the British Tennis Federation – Draw a line in the sand and move on to help shift the negative stigma of the old name
3. Transparent accounting showing exactly where the money goes
4. Sell the National Tennis Centre at Roehampton to the Commercial sector – A complete waste of money and not needed. Since when did a national association develop a top player?
5. Build and fund new affordable indoor (bubble) tennis clubs within schools and colleges – Free daytime lessons to all children within the school in curriculum time (Paid for by club retainer to the coach) – WE NEED MORE SMALLER AFFORDABLE CLUBS – The big super clubs are either a turn off to new players or way too expensive. There’s room for both. This would grow the game hugely!
6. Help Clubs to get planning permission for Indoor (bubble) courts or help them to relocate their ground to a local school or college – Create a team of specialists that are experts in getting clubs funding and planning permission for new facilities, indoor courts, or relocating etc
7. Take over run down park courts and inject life through sponsored programmes, new facilities and help make tennis a cheap and easy attraction
8. Aid and support Tennis Coaches who regularly develop promising players and not take players away to so called ‘national or regional coaches’, BUT encourage and sponsor small training elite squads around the country – Supply the specialist knowledge to help these Coaches improve their teaching as their player evolves.
9. Embrace all methods of teaching Tennis – There is no one way to teach or learn this game. Empower and reward coaches to try different methods that will widen their overall knowledge and make them a better teacher in the long run
10. Replace the LTA Ratings system with a grading and ranking structure based on development… not just results – Get rid of the fear of competition!
11. More organised match play for adult and junior improvers who rarely get a look in, from local level up to county and national organised competitions.
12. Better goals and reasons to play and train for adult players whose numbers have dropped alarmingly
13. Professionalise the County Associations – Give Budgets to match numbers of clubs and players affiliated. Task them with growing the game, building more clubs, courts and get more people playing in the parks
14. Replace the outdated County Week competition with a home and away Professional League set within their current county week groups. These must include singles and doubles. – This league would be sponsored and players would be paid to play for their Counties.
15. Change the format of Club Tennis Leagues to match the Pro County League – Players have to compete in their local league to qualify for the County Pro Leagues – This will improve the standard of local leagues and the interest in playing them
16. Create the same formatted County teams from Mini Tennis grades up to Over 55 – Expenses paid for by the county, keeping playing for the county prestigious at all levels and grades
17. Create a ‘Coaches Charter’ and a contract of employment to work at Clubs and Parks. – Stop good coaches from getting thrown out of a club just because a new chairman does not like his face or allow clubs to rid themselves of under-performing coaches
18. Reward clubs for success in participation numbers and player production not for just ticking boxes and organising a programme the way the governing body says it should be done – Make these clubs/parks/centres into flagships and their coaches should be publicised and advertised as examples to follow. Their ideas and insights to be shared with all coaches through forums and social media.
19. Participation numbers to be more accurately processed. These should only be players who actually engage in a coaching/competitive programme not just attend free taster days.
20. Flexible competition structure to allow coaches to choose the level of competition that suits each of their players especially when it comes to mini tennis regardless of age. Ability should come first.
21. No more top down dictatorship – the emphasis will be on sharing ideas and being more of a democracy.
There are many, many enthusiastic and individuals out there both at the LTA and outside the LTA who are doing fantastic jobs and have brilliant insightful ideas. I have come across these individuals many times over the years.
They are from all backgrounds and experiences and ALL deserve to be heard and equally we should listen to them.
It’s about time we all shared these ideas and success. Nobody knows it all, nobody. Therefore nobody has the right to dictate and preach as to what is the ‘right way’.
Sure, a governing body should lay down generic and specific targets that refer to and encourage every level of player participation growth and development.
BUT not dictate HOW it should it should all be done!
Players, parents and coaches want options. Not to be told which ‘unproven’ path they should take
Any governing body should be the megaphone for suggestions, methods and ideas put to them by hard working and enthusiastic individuals who are the unsung heroes of tennis development at EVERY level of participation.