International Tennis Federation: Adult Reten- taining adults in tennis:
1. Social – meet new people
Newman James, Miley Dave
(International Tennis Federation, Great Britain) 2. Learning/Improving – learn new skills and to
experience playing and improving their game
INTRODUCTION 3. Health and Fitness – improve health, ﬁtness and
In 2007 the International Tennis Federation (ITF) well-being
launched ’Tennis. . . Play and Stay’, a campaign to 4. Flexibility in when they play the sport – play
improve the way starter players are introduced to outside of lessons and have control of organising
tennis. Fundamental to the campaign is ensuring courts and times
that all players play the game from the ﬁrst lesson.
To achieve this, 3 types of slower balls and smaller 5. Belonging – have a sense of connection and be-
court sizes were promoted. longing to the place they play, and the other people
By 2009, 117 nations were using 2 or more slower
balls (Newman, 2009), and US junior racket sales In 2009, the KNLTB (Dutch Federation) introduced
rose 80% from 2003-2008 (Tennis Industry Asso- ’Tennis.Nonstop’, a campaign based on its ﬁnd-
ciation, 2008). ings.
The speed of the campaign’s success led to a plan ITF Adult Program: Using the ’Play and Stay’
for expansion through two supporting initiatives: philosophy, health research, and lessons learned
from the KNLTB and French Tennis Federation’s
* Tennis 10s (tennis for players aged 10 and un-
adult programme; the ITF is developing a training
der using slower balls and scaled courts) was
and competition programme to help ITF’s member
launched in 2009. The ITF plan to introduce a rule
nations better attract and retain adults in tennis.
from 2012 that will eliminate the use of a traditional,
yellow ball in 10&U competition. A key element of the programme will be to pro-
vide ﬂexible lesson plans using slower balls and
* Adult Starter Tennis programme which will be
smaller courts, which will ensure starter adults play
launched in 2011.
the game from the start. In addition, a support-
Development of the programme: The ITF believes ing manual, website and promotional material will
that attracting and retaining adults is vital for the educate stakeholders about the programme, and
well-being of tennis, especially as tennis is one of the motivational factors highlighted earlier as im-
few sports that can be played by adults of all ages. portant retention elements.
In the US in 2006, over 90 million had tried ten-
nis, yet only 22 million continued. In the Nether- CONCLUSION
lands, 90,000 new players start tennis each year, The ITF aims to introduce a new adult program in
but 52,000 leave within 2 years. In 2008, the ITF 2011. Using slower balls, the programme will seek
formed a group of international experts to focus on to increase retention rates by ensuring a more dy-
adult retention. namic and positive experience from the start, and
Health Beneﬁts: Research performed for the ITF a good cardiovascular workout, which will lead to
showed that recreational tennis provided signiﬁ- increased adult participation in tennis worldwide.
cant health beneﬁts including improved aerobic ﬁt- REFERENCES
ness, lower body fat %, and reduced risk of cardio-
vascular disease (Pluim et al. 2007). Pluim, B.M. et al. Brit J Sport Med, 41, 11, 760-768
Retention Motives: Investigations in France and Newman, J. 2009. Tennis Play and Stay Newslet-
the Netherlands identiﬁed 5 important factors in re- ter: Sept/Oct 2009. www.tennisplayandstay.com
Tennis Industry Association. 2008.
Keywords: adult, tennis, retention, development