February 2008 -- The last Cardio Tennis article offered unique solutions for music on the court and attracting the fitness market. This article will address common concerns with heart rate monitors, starter (beginner) players and advanced players.
Heart rate monitors (HRMs) elevate the fitness profile of the Cardio Tennis class. It is not a requirement to use HRMs at an official Cardio Tennis site, but it is highly recommended. In most cases, if Cardio Tennis is not successful at a facility it is because the class has somehow been diluted by not following the proper format/curriculum or not using all the available tools. Many sites do not use HRMs for the following reasons: cost, comfort, fear, time, education, or technical issues.
Let's address the most common concern, which is cost, from the perspective of the pro and the consumer.
Pro's perspective: A "loaner kit" is too much of an investment.
- Buying the 10-pack loaner kit is a big chunk of money upfront, which is why we encourage pros to start with their own HRM, use it and understand how to work it. Wear it while you are leading the Cardio Tennis class and pull your own file at the end. This will stimulate your consumers' interest in the HRM and before you know it they will want one for themselves; you have just created a money-making opportunity. It is very easy to open an account with Polar or another manufacturer of HRMs, so stock them in your pro shop.
- Incorporate the cost of the loaner kit into your class pricing, and you can pay for the kit in as little as six classes (eight people per class at $15 each).
- Cost should not be an issue for a tool that can protect you as the coach. As a USPTA Professional you have a great benefit of $9 million in liability insurance, however that is something we hope we never have to call upon. I have heard numerous stories from tennis professionals who have had consumers discover heart issues because they were using the HRM. If they had not been wearing the HRM the problems may not have been recognized in the early stages and could have ultimately resulted in a serious cardiac situation.
You need to think of this program as a franchise or investment. This is one of the few opportunities professionals have to make a short-term financial/asset investment for long-term financial gain.
Consumer's perspective: I can't afford one or I do not want to waste my money.
The HRM is not comfortable - I don't like how it feels - and it takes too long to put on.
- Pricing on an HRM varies widely depending on the amount of bells and whistles one wants, however, there are HRMs for as little as $40.
- It is an investment in your health. Is there anything more important than one's health?
- It is the best way to train efficiently and effectively. This is like having your workout center with you all day long. It's cheaper than a treadmill or elliptical and it has multiple uses. It can and should be worn during any physical activity from walking to spinning.
- It is a motivation tool that will put the real value of your workout in perspective.
- Give wearers ample time to put on the bands; show how to adjust them.
- Some people might feel modest or that it's a hassle to put it on. Have an area for putting on the units, which include a wristwatch and chest transmitter, perhaps behind a curtain or in a locker room. This is another good reason for someone to own an HRM instead of using one on loan from you in order to put it on when dressing at home.
- Some people might feel afraid to wear it; you need to explain what it feels like and that there is no current or sensation from the transmitter. Remember to ask your consumers if they have a pacemaker. If they have one they should not be wearing an HRM.
- There is a company called Textronics that makes clothing-compatible sports bras for women and shirts for men. You can insert the transmitter into the clothing, eliminating the chest strap. Polar and Adidas have a compatible clothing line as well.
- Reebok makes a strapless HRM; you do need to put your fingers on the sensors to get a reading. MIO makes a strapless HRM that you do not have to touch, however, the cost is high. Keep in mind that a chest transmitter allows for the most accurate heart rate measurement.
- The Polar F5 and F6 have the same size plastic transmitter but there is no "transmitter interference" with the F6. The Polar F11 has the smaller (2 inch) transmitter as opposed to the 5 and 6 which is about 7 inches..
It is up to the pro to educate the consumer on all the benefits and multiple uses.
I don't need to wear one.
- An HRM is a safety precaution for both the consumer and the coach.
- If you are not wearing one we recommend a manual self-check, however, this has a 33 percent margin for error.
- If you want to improve your fitness it is a necessary tool. Why? Because it is the most accurate way to assess and monitor your workout. It assesses which heart rate zone you are in and how long you are in it. Another feature is it gives calorie burn, which is great feedback for weight loss or a training tool to maintain weight. Additionally, many of the watches have other features that assess fitness level and improvement. It is a great motivational tool, and some Polar models display a trophy when you have met your weekly goals.
- We can't make people wear them but we can continue to educate and encourage them. Those who observe others wearing the watch will see that this is a key tool of the program.
The HRM is not accurate; it is showing a crazy number like 00 or 220.
Although the watch is 99 percent accurate, strange readings can occur when personal information is not input correctly, the equipment is not worn correctly, or the consumer hits the wrong button. Other causes for error include a lack of moisture on the transmitter, a low battery, or transmitter interference. You need to educate your consumers on the features of the watch and how to troubleshoot.
Lets move on to challenges with starter tennis players. A common misconception some professionals have is that Cardio Tennis is not for beginners. The National Cardio Tennis Speakers Team members feel Cardio Tennis is, in fact, the best entry point for starter players. Research has shown that starter players often quit tennis because their experience with tennis had been too technical, they didn't feel like they got a workout, and they did not have fun; Cardio Tennis is the answer to those challenges. With Cardio Tennis, starter players learn and experience from the beginning that moving is critical to advancing in the game of tennis.
A frequent comment I get from the field is starter players can't play games. Sure they can, it's just not going to look as pretty. You as the coach need to believe this and create the right environment for successful game playing. Remember, learner-centered coaching means doing the right thing for the student - not what is easiest for the coach. Use the following guidelines for successful game playing with starter players:
- Short court and transition balls work wonders.
- Slow things down.
- Play games with beginners the very first day and every class thereafter.
- Almost any drill or game can be tweaked for a starter player.
- "I did it" and red rover (short court) are great starter games. Please visit www.partners.cardiotennis.com for details.
Starter players are not learning in Cardio Tennis because I am not teaching.
They are learning through the following methods:
- Hitting lots of balls while moving
- Guided discovery
- Learning to adjust through positioning
Keep in mind, you will be giving some verbal instruction in a Cardio Tennis for starters class. The warm-up and cool-down segments are great times to give some instruction. The serve should be introduced the very first class during the cool-down phase. If you offer three or more Cardio Tennis classes per week you are in a better position to segment your classes and offer starter, original and advanced Cardio Tennis. Please visit www.partners.cardiotennis.com for a special class programming chart (you will need your pass code to enter that part of the Web site). If you are an official site and do not have a pass code please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am a very skilled player. Why would I want or need to do Cardio Tennis?
- Professional players like Tracy Austin, Mary Jo Fernandez, Jeff Tarango, Vania King, the Jensen and Bryan brothers all do Cardio Tennis
- It is a great supplement to your regular tennis training
- It enables you to practice strokes in many circumstances
- Breaks up the usual training monotony
- The advanced player needs to learn about heart rates and what their ideal intensity state is.
The key to successful advanced Cardio Tennis is strictly adhering to the guidelines that the player must be extremely fit and 4.5 or above ability level.
One of the best ways to market Cardio Tennis at your facility is to encourage your members to form "private" Cardio Tennis classes. For example, six women from your 3.5 ladies team want a closed Cardio Tennis session with you. This class is not publicized on the group lesson schedule as it is just for these six ladies. This is beneficial to them as they pick a time that works for them and your schedule, they are with their friends of similar ability level - which makes things easier for you as the coach - and everybody is happy!