From a First-Time Coach: Traveling to Doubles Boot Camp
By: Emilie Moeller
I didn’t know quite what to expect during my Doubles Boot Camp stint. Prior to the annual Amelia Island, Florida weekends, my only Cliff Drysdale Tennis (CDT) event experience had been coaching at Tennis with the Stars, a week-long camp that blends tennis instruction with exclusive access to the BNP Paribas Open. Of course, the year I attended this event was also the year COVID-19 struck; a memorable and extemporaneous week to be sure, but not exactly the kind that prepares you for future CDT signature events.
Nevertheless, I arrived at Omni Amelia Island Resort excited and optimistic to broaden my horizon at one of the most popular events hosted by our team. With a job title of Sales and Marketing Assistant, my on-court days were infrequent, but when I had the opportunity to develop that area of my job, I leapt at the challenge. As a self-described introvert, stepping on court in front of a small crowd of people to deliver energetic and confident coaching did not come naturally to me. However, I recognized that such a skill was not only helpful for my own professional development, but also served as a pivotal component of our company’s mission to bring the “ultimate tennis experience.” And by all means, the venues for these professional growth opportunities were nothing to complain about!
I had been told that while it was one of the shorter experiences we offer (running just from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning), it was jam-packed with over 10 hours of doubles instruction over the three days. I should also expect to meet some of the company’s veteran professionals, notorious for their charismatic and effective on-court teaching methods. It was sure to be an invaluable learning experience, one that I had eagerly begun counting down to in the weeks leading up to it.
Despite an unsavory weather forecast, I watched as the team seamlessly transitioned into Plan B mode, devising an indoor Red Ball tournament that would not only provide some first-day entertainment, but also give our guests the opportunity to practice touch, angles and movement. Three pros volunteered to lead an interactive “Chalk Talk” following the Red Ball tournament to keep Day 1 as informative as possible despite the improvisations.
Saturday featured clear skies and extended hours of on-court instruction, from drills that targeted the dreaded No-man’s-land volley to rounds of guided match play with a unique strategic focus each time. The pros were indeed a valuable representation of what it meant to bring contagious energy to each drill as they balanced thoughtful coaching feedback with a barrage of jokes to keep the day lively and entertaining. The guests clearly enjoyed themselves, responding with their own share of one-liners and successful shot selections in between dips into the adult refreshment cooler.
As the weekend progressed, I found myself becoming more and more comfortable on court, building my own repertoire of ice breakers and standard coaching tips to rely on with each new group that joined my court. Feeding off my fellow teammates’ energy was effortless – their visible (and audible) enthusiasm for their role was as contagious among the coaches as it was the players.
So, in sum, what can you take away from this first-time Doubles Boot Camp coach? If you find yourself lucky enough to travel to CDT events, don’t hesitate. Broaden your coaching experience alongside some of our company’s (and industry’s) finest pros, and I guarantee you’ll recognize an acceleration of your own on-court capabilities, as well as your professional development, specifically customer service, marketing and event activation skillsets. And perhaps most important of all, you’ll leave with brand-new professional relationships across the US that remind you why you decided to join the CDT family in the first place.