Friday, April 21, 2017

USPTA Professional Exam - Tips and Course Review



USPTA and Tennis Coaching

Prior to getting my USPTA certificate, I had coached tennis for over 10 years. I have taught for various tennis programs, at local county and club levels. Through the years, I've also dabbled in some freelance tennis coaching on the side - mainly for Juniors and Beginners students.

I have not been paid to do this review but simply want to share my experience with prospective exam takers. Also, I hope this blog post can help encourage other candidate tennis teachers. I too was a bit hesitant to spend the $350 at first and unsure if I could pass it because I am not a full time teaching professional. But if I can do it, so can anyone who studies for it*


USPTA References

If you decide to apply for an USPTA membership - please consider putting me as your referral.
It is found in the "References" section of the USPTA Online Application Form when you sign up.

Hopefully, you find my tips and helpful below in this article. If you do mention my name, I will be very grateful as it will save me $50 on next year's dues!

I will be happy to answer of your questions and also try to reply to any in the comments section below. The goal is to get more Tennis Education out there in the USA for aspiring coaches of tomorrow*

2-day course vs 1-day course

When you sign up for your on-court exam, you can choose between the 1-day or 2-day courses held across the US during different times in the year.

I signed up for the 2-day course and here's why...

The first day was basically what I would call "rehearsal" and Q&A about any questions on the test. We had the test in a bubble, at a local country club. The instructor covers everything you need to know the first day. If you listen and follow their advice, you should do fine.

On the flip side, I noticed that there were a few "1-day" students who ended up having to repeat (and redo) portions of the group lesson that they failed during our 2nd day.

USPTA Certification Paths: One-day vs Two-day Options

Day One: Q&A
All the fellow students (5 total) in my class had some former teaching experience. Their levels ranged from a high school teenager, former ATP Top 300 player to a teaching pro with over 30 years experience.

I was very fortunately to have a good instructor (Ted) that explained everything and set expectations clearly from day 1. It was great chatting and networking with the other tennis instructors too. We went out for lunch together and helped each other with studying for the test. Your fellow students will also be used for various portions of the test.

Day Two: Lesson Plan Testing
The bulk of the on-court tests happened on the 2nd day. Sometimes they compress some into the end of the first day to save time (which I liked). The group lessons are comprised of 3-4 random students they pick from the club. Most are between NTRP 3.0-3.5 in my opinion.

The schedule was 8am-3pm both days, but the second day was spent completely on taking turns to do the private and group lessons (~25 mins per person). You get about 90 mins for lunch, plenty of breaks, and time to ask additional questions.

Selecting an Exam Date - USPTA Exam Calendar

Benefits for USPTA Membership

The great thing about any USPTA certification is that it offers Nike wholesale discounts on personal tennis gear. Plus, the members' site offers excellent online resources (movies and diagrams) for tennis drills. You also receive a subscription to their "Tennis Industry" magazine that is also a top-notch publication and even better than Tennis Magazine. You can also buy on-court liability insurance for an added fee.

The USPTA and USPTR certs are the most widely recognized tennis credentials in the USA - Basically, it helps you land a job in the tennis industry. Any full-time professional you consider hiring for tennis lessons should be able to produce this. For test takers, if you can get the test fees and dues paid for by your club, that's even better! They offer an ADD discount program for "economically challenged" pros starting out as well.

Receiving your Test Preparation and Online Study Material

Recommend you spend some time reading through the USPTA PTCA1 pdf prior to coming to class. They will send you this pdf when you register for the USPTA Professional test. I found it helpful to print it out and put it in a binder to take notes and review.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Sanchez-Casal Academy: 2016 Edition Review

Tennis Teachers Conference 2016 (ICI Certification) Review


Level 1 to teach Juniors and Level 2 to teach Adult Pros

Last time was around 2010, right after the Naples Bath and Tennis club management was taken over by Mr. Emilo Sanchez (former Spanish Davis Cup Captain and Grand Slam winner in doubles). Back then it was at its infancy and this week I have seen how much it has evolved as a full scale academy.

It has maintained a small "private school" feel environment. It has much more personalized attention than the mega-academy "Boot Camps" which sometimes kids will get lost in the 50+ kid mob if they are not the top performer. Specialty coaches are available to every student to help each player work on Technical, Tactical, Mental and Physical aspects of their athletic and tennis games.

My 2009 Video review of the RPT Tennis Teachers Program. 

AS-C Florida Pictures of Previous Visit

Very fond memories of getting world-class instruction from Emilio Sanchez (Spanish Davis Cup Captain of 2008 World Champions plus 3-time Grand Slam Doubles Champion) and Luis Mediero (ICI America, RPT Founder and USPTA Master Pro).

I compare this with the Saddlebrook Academy in Tampa where I visited for adult training back in Feb. There the emphasizes is more on the luxury resort feel and the recreational improvement with hitting lots of balls / drills.

The AS-C Naples program comes from the Spanish system pioneered by Mr. Pato Alverez. Lots of tactical footwork, inside out forehands and "Aggressive Defense" as Dani Sobias used to say. Their FL location is tailored much more toward accommodating the kids - composed of a lot more close-knit staff and easily accessible courts and facilities. There is a special Latin / Spanish culture about the place with many international students. It puts the focus on the student's Life Education to improve their overall improvement - well beyond just hitting tennis balls.

The International Coaches Institute (ICI) course has gone through many useful improvements with additional speakers/topics since 2009.

For former AS-C alums and previous RPT coaches, I would highly recommend this refreshers course to review fundamentals and updated program. I saw some of the junior coaches attending as well.

Even as an former AS-C / RPT attendee from 2009, I felt like more than 70% of the info was freshly updated. Initially, I had worried I would get bored because I had been to their 5-day coaches course in Barcelona and 4-day RPT course in Naples. Even after Day 1, I've been pleasantly surprised.

Now they have added a few more speakers and teachers to also cover the Physical and the Mental aspects of the game.

Highlights of the Camp
Derek (Fitness Director) had 2 great sessions: an on court conditioning demo and the gym tutorial with the foam rollers and other recovery tools was excellent! Learned a lot of great useful tips to help keep students injury-free and increase performance with proper recovery.

The lunch was Pasta and Chicken (which was very delicious and fresh), served with salad / fresh fruits and veggies. Only $12 lunch special in a very beautiful dining hall and excellent service staff.

Lots more on-court coaching and hands-on labs plus workout sessions! The Academy has expanded with many more students and a big juniors tournament while we were there. On the schedule were also some Open level tournaments for Men and Women players.


6 Basic Exercises

 Demo on court as both student and teacher (2 on 2 ratios).
*Very helpful hints given by Luis and a few coaches like Lucas for performing each exercise properly*

Main Focus on the drills:
  • X Drills + always recover to Center "Home"
  • Double side shuffle to shift weight back to middle.
  • FH Attack, BH Attack, FH Defend, BH Defend
  • Attack = step diagonal forward; Defend = back foot diagonal


1) Defend DTL - Attack Cross
Play from the back foot the defense shots. FH back, FH approach, BH back, BH approach

2) Defend Cross - Attack DTL
Instead hit cross court on FH and then BH, then feed short ball on the same side to go down the line. Always feed short ball from same side, as the last deep / 3rd shot; to retreat the player and restart, feed deep on the same side again to reset for opposite wing.

3) Mid-Court Approach Shot + Volley
This is an X pattern drill. Cross FH deep, then DTL Backhand Volley. Then retreat for BH deep cross court followed by FH volley DTL.

4) Swing Volley (to simulate high groundies)Players hit with weight on back foot and hitting high out of the air; Alternate fh/bh after player has recovered the center house.

5) Forward Normal VolleysPlayers hit with weight on front foot. Low volley: Step in then volley; Mid level volley: Step AND Hit at the same time; High volley: Hit then step in.

6) 2 Defensive Baseline, 1 Approach, 2 Volleys, 1 overhead
Alternate defense shots, but keep feeds on same side as incoming shot. Force player to hit to the open court / cross court whenever possible.



Special Offer Pricing available for Academy Sessions: "JCtennis referral"

Enroll Juniors at the Academy for summer/winter vacation to learn the Spanish Tennis system that helped Murray get to World #1. The kids have a lot of fun with the junior coaches and other kids 10-18 years old there. Build strong work ethics and help them be better players, students.  Full Details here.

You can also send small groups of juniors to stay and train together with a package deal as well.

Please mention JCtennis.com when you ask to speak with Romy about the "Preferred Coaches" Program Deal.


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