The New Generation of Racquet Sports Directors: Part I
Strategies to Become a Successful Director
By: Scott McCulloch
As the racquet sports industry enters a new age, so too do the roles and responsibilities of our leaders and on-court professionals. We are looking to the next generation of pros to take the reins and embrace the new skillsets essential to becoming a Director of Racquets and the leadership role they must assume in order to manage, support and grow both themselves and their team members.
I feel very fortunate that as part of my role with Cliff Drysdale Tennis, I have the opportunity to mentor and work with aspiring and learning directors, and witness the aforementioned evolution of their roles on a daily basis. Over time, I have found that there are several foundational skillsets essential for a successful transition into a Director of Racquets position. These skills should be developed and honed over time as new or growing professionals master the craft of becoming not just a successful Director, but a forward-thinking Director of Racquets.
Practical teaching experience with the programs you aim to oversee is foundational to understanding your role, as well as the roles of the day-to-day teachers of your sport. Although there are some examples of Directors who have not come from a teaching background the most common practice is teaching pros moving into a Director position.
Investing in your program on a personal level creates the level of care to recognize what is necessary for your club to succeed.
In other words, have the ability to understand what is important and in many cases, leave the ego at the door. Being able to keep perspective on what is important to ownership, club, team and members will serve a director everyday and help keep things in check.
Too often when provided with a Director title, it’s easy to believe that we now have to the answers and the learning hits an abrupt halt. In reality, we will have some answers but we have to have the courage to grow and learn each day, especially in the new era of racquet sports. That will require us asking questions, being uncomfortable and not being afraid to seek guidance from others that are more experienced.
Have the awareness to reflect on experiences, situations, conversations and observations and grow from them. Oftentimes reflecting isn’t quite as challenging as implementing the changes to grow from your past actions.
“Vision” describes the ability to look down the path and see what is possible and recognize the program/club’s potential. More importantly, how can you set goals in place and motivate action amongst your team to progress towards that vision?
Stand behind your program and your team throughout the growth process. Know that you will make mistakes along the way, but have the courage to believe that those obstacles will translate to learning experiences that will help you grow and move forward. This courage is contagious, and can simultaneously empower your team members to learn and develop from challenges of their own.
Assuming your role as a Director of Racquets demands a conscious shift in mindset and is key for establishing a forward-thinking culture within your team and facility. It may not always be a straightforward endeavor, but will ultimately prove vital to the lasting success of your racquet program.