Tennis Unlocked- how coaches made tennis available to all during lockdown
Tennis Unlocked is a collaboration of coaches across the UK making tennis affordable and accessible. The group formed during lockdown at the start of the year and has grown to 66 coaches being involved by working together.
It all started in Milton Keynes in January 2021 by John Cavill, Director of Tennis, Tennis Works at Stony Stratford Tennis Club, when he came up with the idea of sending tennis videos into schools while children were home schooling.
John said, “In January it was the first time my 4-year-old daughter did home schooling and having seen a couple of PE lessons via Zoom, I offered to run some tennis sessions. From this idea I thought I could do the same for other schools, so I contacted our School Games Organiser in Milton Keynes and she thought it was a great idea as teachers were crying out for fresh content to send home to children. Off the back of this I went on to create a series called ‘Future Tennis Stars’ of which there are 10 missions. Each week a mission would be sent to 90 primary schools, which had a reach of approximately 18,000 children. Each mission would last 30 minutes with the children following tennis related exercises at home using everyday household items from frying pans as rackets to balloons as balls. It was so much fun and gave me something good to do but the opportunity to reach this many children was amazing! At the end of the video, I would promote how people can get in touch, join my Facebook Live sessions at the weekends and start playing after lockdown”.
The Tennis Coaches Support Network, a coaches Facebook group which John is a part of, hosted a webinar to 30 coaches where John shared the concept as he felt others could benefit from doing the same and growing the game. From this, 19 coaches acted and started to get in touch with their local School Games Organisers and film 30-minute sessions each week for all of their local schools. The numbers continue to grow and at the peak, over 2000 schools and thousands of children a week were receiving videos.
From sharing this idea, Tennis Unlocked was created and a separate Coaches Facebook group was formed so all the coaches could help each other with content, equipment for filming, editing issues etc. It created a unity amongst coaches who have never met each other but continue to support each other now.
With all this great content being created, we wanted to showcase it to the public, so the Facebook page www.Facebook.com/TennisUnlocked was created and any news, videos or content was posted to it.
Through this initiative, where coaches were struggling mentally and worrying about their businesses, this gave everyone a new lease of life. The phenomenal impact it has had on everyone’s programmes with new people coming into the game and coaches getting local media attention resulted in John featuring on BBC Breakfast, BBC Look East and ITV Anglia.
Tennis Unlocked continues to grow and offers new ways to attract people into the game, while the coaches enjoy working together. If you are a coach and want to get involved, then please search on Facebook ‘Tennis Unlocked – Coach Community’ to join the group, otherwise please like the page at www.Facebook.com/TennisUnlocked