‘I came to Alice as a complete novice and after my first lesson with her, I was hooked’: Celebrating LTA ‘Development Coach of the Year’ Alice Robson

14/09/2020

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To mark the start of UK Coaching Week, we sat down with 24 year old coach extraordinaire Alice Robson. Recently crowned ‘Development Coach of the Year’ at this year’s LTA Tennis Awards, we chatted to Alice about her coaching career to date, her passion for coaching and the impact she is having on others, and discussed why she is encouraging others to take this year’s #GreatCoachingPledge.

Recognised for outstanding achievements at her local tennis club in Ackworth, Alice was crowned ‘Development Coach of the Year’ on account of growing her club’s membership via a coaching programme. She has a real passion for getting women and girls on court and has developed innovative sessions at her club to encourage participation. She also mentors new female coaches and has so far engaged over 1,800 children from local schools.

Hi Alice! Firstly, congratulations on becoming this year’s LTA ‘Development Coach of the Year’. How did it feel to win the award? Tell us more about the work you do at your local club?

To be recognised for something I am so passionate about is incredible! It’s an added bonus to have won the award above coaches who have done astonishing work. I am so proud of Ackworth Tennis Club - it’s amazing to see how far we have come. In 2018, we had 17 members and since the introduction of a coaching programme, we now have over 200 members. One of the biggest factors that enabled me to be able to grow the coaching programme and membership was school engagement. I am very lucky to have my school outreach role funded by the LTA and Yorkshire Tennis, the Tim Henman Foundation and Ackworth School. This helped me engaged with over 17 local primary schools who I then encouraged to attend school events as well as open days at the club.

It is lovely to see the players on the coaching programme develop. A lot of players have been involved in the programme for two years now and are now competing regularly in the club and locally against other clubs. I am very excited to see what the future brings. We have built a fantastic tennis community and I really hope that continues.

When did you start coaching? Was there anyone in particular who inspired you to start coaching?

I started coaching as a volunteer when I was 14 at my training centre. My coach at the time encourage me to participate regularly. Thinking about it now she was a fantastic role model for me and showed me that tennis coaching is a career for anyone.

Coaching is one of the most rewarding jobs out there and we received the below quote from one of the young girls you currently coach:

 “I came to Alice as a complete novice and from my very first lesson with her I was hooked.  Alice’s love of the game is infectious.  Her patience and her attention to detail are amazing. I now love tennis - I can’t imagine not playing and it’s all thanks to Alice.”

What does it mean to receive feedback like this?

This is very heart warming. I am glad to hear my passion for tennis is visible and that I can pass it on to others. Tennis has taught be a lot through being a player and a coach. It is lovely to see what impact tennis has on people’s lives.

What is your biggest coaching achievement in tennis to date?

I would say winning the LTA ‘Development Coach of the Year’ award, but besides that, I would have to say being able to inspire women and girls to play tennis. I have run school events for girls which I was incredible to have over 60 girls playing tennis. When they all arrived, I was amazed to see so many girls on a tennis court! Growing up, I have always been one of the only girls in a training session, so it is so refreshing seeing groups of women and girls playing tennis together. I have started to see this in my junior sessions and my cardio tennis classes.

We’ve heard you’re developing a GP referral scheme between your club and a local GP practice to open tennis up – tell us more about it?

Yes, our chairman, Don Saul (LTA ‘Volunteer of the Year’ award winner), has worked hard to set this up. The scheme allows patients to be prescribed exercise rather than medication. We aim to provide a session which is beneficial from them, giving them the opportunity to learn new skills whilst exercising and having fun.  

And finally….today marks the start of UK Coaching Week and this year’s campaign involves members of the public taking a #GreatCoachingPledge to share thanks and show support for the coaching community. What is your pledge and are you encouraging others to get involved?

My pledge is to work with my coaches more closely. I will have more one to one time with them and help them develop their coaching through goal setting. As well as this try and give them more responsibility. I would definitely encourage others to get involved – it’s a great campaign and there are three easy ways to make a pledge. You can find out more here.

As an LTA Accredited Coach, Alice is part of the LTA’s professional membership scheme for coaches – giving her a stamp of approval that is recognised by the industry. The scheme has been developed to provide relevant support to British tennis coaches and their businesses, helping them to deliver great on-court experiences and grow their programmes. It also unlocks a range of educational opportunities to support career development, and a package of benefits including insurance to help protect coaches’ on-court career.

Inspired by Alice’s story? Find out more about the LTA's coaching pathway.

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