Melbourne, Australia, 4 May 2020 | Leigh Rogers

Social distancing rules introduced to combat the COVID-19 pandemic have forced many coaches to get creative with how they deliver lessons.

For Ashleigh Richardson, the head coach at Vida Tennis Essendon in Melbourne, the solution has been creating online resources available through their website and social media.

“Like the majority of our industry, it is a crazy and scary time with a lot of changes each day to how we are running our coaching,” she explained.

“Personally, I took a couple of days to just stop and take it all in and refresh after such a big term one. After that, it has been full steam ahead for us in making sure we still have a purpose, we set some goals, focusing on supporting our teams, our players and their families and our clubs.”

Vida Tennis have added activities and videos on their website to encourage people to stay active in isolation. They have also made a Facebook group to share free lessons, activities and challenges for ANZ Tennis Hot Shots students.

Richardson said the response to this new way of learning had been positive.

“Online tennis classes are not the norm in our industry, but so far it’s been great,” she said.

“We have been growing in members each week and getting a lot of photos and videos of kids doing the lessons at home at a time that suits them. I also feel like it is giving us an opportunity to stay in contact with our students and ensure they are still engaged with the sport.”

Creating online resources has come with new challenges for coaches too.

“Definitely learning all the skills that go with filming and editing,” Richardson noted. “There were many elements I didn’t know about prior that myself and the team have had to learn.

“Also ensuring that the lessons are able to be completed from home in the spaces available with equipment that might not necessarily be regular tennis equipment.”

Richardson believes learning to adapt to the changing circumstances has helped the coaches too, developing their skills and reaffirming why they love their jobs.

“It’s been a chance for us to check in with our own coaching and improve on that too,” she said.

“Moving classes online allows us to continue to support our students and give them the opportunity to continue to play the sport we love.”