More needs to be done to encourage female tennis coaches
Despite 45 percent of tennis players being female, only 23 per cent of coaches in the UK are women.
One hundred female tennis coaches from the North of England were questioned about their experiences and their reasons for not progressing further in their coaching career.
The research has been carried out by graduate Alice Robson as part of her Major Independent Study for her Sport Development degree, overseen by Leeds Beckett Senior Lecturer in Sport Development, Janine Partington from the Carnegie School of Sport.
Speaking about the research, Alice said: “There appear to be four main reasons that females aren’t progressing in tennis coaching - a lack of opportunities, a lack of job security, low confidence, and the perception of coaches.
“The lack of opportunities range from a lack of networking opportunities for female coaches to a lack of female tutors and the existence of perceived ‘old boys clubs’.
“The lack of job security, and the fact that tennis coaches are self-employed, means there is no maternity scheme and part-time working is difficult. This means if a woman wants to combine having a family and being a tennis coach it isn’t easy.
“There appears to be a lack of confidence amongst female coaches, which can be traced back to their lack of progression and the fact they are often junior rather than senior coaches.
“Finally, the perception of coaching is that it’s a male-dominated environment with a lack of female role models or female-only courses.
With all these barriers in place, it’s not surprising that there is a lack of female coaches”
Senior Lecturer Janine Partington added: “Alice found several reasons why there is a shortage of female coaches in the UK. In order to double the number of female coaches in the next five years, as the LTA has stated it wants to do, there are certain recommendations they need to seriously consider.
“They need to improve the perception of the career of a female tennis coach through the use of role models, create mentoring opportunities, introduce a maternity scheme for coaches, introduce a gender policy within coach education and increase female networking opportunities.
“According to Alice’s research, by introducing these measures female tennis coaches would feel more valued and have more chance to progress as tennis coaches to the senior ranks.”
Speaking about the research, Joanna Cunliffe, Regional Tennis Participation Manager for the Lawn Tennis Association, said: “We are delighted with Leeds Beckett University’s Alice Robson and her research paper on women and girls tennis. The LTA is currently underway with addressing the gender gap, particularly around female coaches and the number of women and girls participating. The insight gathered by Alice will be used to help towards this journey and we are very much looking forward to building the momentum.”
Alice will be presenting her findings to Sue Lawrence, the Head of Women and Girls Tennis at the LTA in the near future.