Tennis365 takes the LTA coaching course and here is our exclusive inside story

Kevin Palmer

Britain’s Lawn Tennis Association relaunched their Level 1 LTA Assistant coaching qualification on July 1st and Tennis365’s Kevin Palmer got a up-close look at the new programme as he embarked on the first stage of his own coaching journey.

Our exclusive interview with Merlin Van de Braam, Head of Coach Development and Support at LTA, outlined the journey that has been followed to recalibrate all levels of the LTA coach education programme and here, we look at what candidates can expect at they start on their coaching journey.

LTA Assistant (Level 1)

This enhanced two-day qualification (launched on 1 July 2021) is ideal for tennis parents, enthusiasts, or keen players looking for the knowledge and skills to support group coaching sessions, alongside a lead Coach.

Learning outcomes include:

  • Communication, organisation and differentiation skills for group coaching
  • Basic tactical, technical, physical and mental development frameworks
  • Other key assistant skills; from safeguarding to LTA Youth delivery

Key points

Tennis365’s Kevin Palmer enrolled in the course run by uCoach in association with the LTA at Batchwood Tennis Centre in St Albans, Hertfordshire, with a 9am start on a Sunday morning. uCoach are one of 12 official LTA Coach Development Centres in the UK.

The previous LTA Level 1 course was a three-day qualification that was not viewed to be effective in developing key coaching skills in surveys carried out with industry leaders, with the new course targeting specific areas that will be required for all assistant coaches. Level 2 or 3 qualified coaches will generally lead coaching sessions and the role of the assistant is to provide enthusiastic support, while helping to promote a coaching environment that will encourage enjoyment and continued participation in the sport.

What to expect – Day 1 

The three-week course is more challenging than the previous Level 1 qualification and that is a hugely positive step forward.

This is a big step on the road to being a tennis coach and the level LTA Assistant (Level 1) course provides a great platform for candidates to understand what is required for the assistant coaching role and the skills they will need.

Rackets and balls will be provided for all the drills and coaching elements of the course, with feeding tasks, leading small groups sessions and understanding how to communicate on court key elements of the Day 1 programme.

Before Day 2

The work students put in outside of their two-day in-person training is the key element of the new-look Level 1 LTA Assistant qualification.

Students need to produce video evidence highlighting their proficiency in delivering clearly defined feeding tasks, as well as a video demonstration of how they would encourage students to perform a basic shot during a coaching session. These video submissions make up 50 per-cent of your mark and if you get these done correctly, you will be on your way to passing the course. This was one of Kevin’s video submissions:

You are also required to complete four hours of on-court coaching experience with a qualified LTA Accredited coach, taking part in live sessions that may provide students with their first real experience of coaching.

In addition, there is coursework to be completed on the LTA Learn platform, which all candidates are given access to when they register for the course.

Day 2 and qualification

You need to use the three weeks between Day 1 of the course and your final in-person day of education to complete your video and online tasks.

That will leave you with just the finishing touches to add to your online grade book following the final day of instruction, which includes modules on safeguarding and how to build players’ confidence.

We were encouraged to complete all tasks a week after the second day of the course, which essentially means you have a month to get all the work done and secure your LTA Assistant (Level 1) qualification.

The tutor – Elizabeth Jones

The course was led by experienced LTA Tutor Elizabeth Jones, who gave us her view on the new Level 1 qualification:

“The emphasis has been shifted to include more work off course and that gives the candidate a significant amount of detail of what to expect when they become an assistant coach. Previously, students had to fill in a written portfolio to complete tasks, but the videos have added an enhanced element to what is required to pass now.

This course is much more dynamic and the videos give us as tutors a chance to see the student coaching and that is a big plus for me. The key factors in this course are ensuring assistants have good communication, they can serve up a good demonstration on court and they have good organisation. We are now giving assistant coaches the skills they need to do that job and that is a huge improvement on the old Level 1 course.”

Tennis365 verdict

Kevin’s final pass mark was over 90 per-cent and that meant he was awarded a distinction in passing his Level 1 LTA Assistant qualification, but a pass anywhere over 60 per-cent will be enough to ensure you gain the coaching certificate.

What this rebranded and redeveloped course has done is ensure that an LTA Assistant (Level 1) qualification is challenging to obtain, while also providing candidates with an enjoyable experience.

If you are interested in attending an LTA coaching course, check out the options HERE.