Industry leaders are taking a very different approach to racquet director pay structure such as considering higher base salary and limited lessons.

As a club general manager or chief operating officer, you have likely already realized that the racquet sports operation is the unsung hero of a successful club organization.

With a vibrant and robust racquet sports program (tennis, pickleball, squash, platform tennis, Paddle and POP tennis) serving as the heart­ beat of your club, it is important to review the different components of your director of racquet sports compensation package to attract and retain top talent.

For some clubs, a director of racquet sports compensation package may be structured as such:

  • Base salary (generally 20-40 percent of overall compensation)
  • Teaching commissions (generally 60-70 percent of overall compensation)
  • Bonus (generally five percent of salary)

This compensation plan includes a relatively small base salary with most of the potential income coming from teaching lessons and clinics taught by the entire staff, director included. The potential year-end bonus is typically given at the GM or COO’s discretion and frequently not based on a set of specific goals or metrics.

These packages are often not enticing enough to incentivize and impact director behavior to create a dynamic, multi-dimensional racquet sports program. In this structure, no one benefits.

The director does not benefit unless they want to teach most of their weekly hours at the club. The assistant professionals do not benefit because the director is taking many of the lessons instead of creating more teaching opportunities for the team of pros.

Unfortunately, the club membership does not benefit because the director is spending all of their time teaching instead of building a pro­ gram and introducing more people to the diversity of sports offered.

Lastly, the GM and the board do not benefit. They will be handcuffed with a stagnant racquets program with limited growth, a non-motivated, burned out director/staff and a membership complaining adamantly about a lack of activities.

Industry leaders are taking a very different approach. Consider the following director pay structure:

  • Higher base salary
  • Limited on-court weekly lessons and clinics
  • Personal higher teaching commission percentage
  • Percentage of assistant professionals’ commissions
  • Higher bonus structure based on the growth of lessons, clinics, social and competitive opportunities, satisfied members, increase in teams, events and casual play. Other criteria may include:
    • Increasing tennis playing members compared to the previous year
    • Increasing tennis revenue compared to the previous year
    • Increasing other racquet sports event participation compared to the previous year
    • Increasing USTA/interclub participation compared to the previous year.

In this structure, there are endless benefits. The director benefits because they feel empowered to build a business and will ulti­mately make equal or higher income without being on the court.

The assistant professionals benefit because their director is incentivized to create more teaching opportunities and turn over more lessons to them, which also fosters strong, positive relationships within the team. Fur­thermore, your club membership benefits by developing new programs, events, teams, members, increased customer service and a more thoroughly trained staff now that the director has the time and energy to grow the department.

And finally, the GM and board benefit because the value of the membership increases dramatically because of the powerful and di­verse racquet sports offerings.

As a GM or COO, it’s important to stay abreast of the latest industry trends, including your team’s compensation plan. It’s never too late to evolve or revamp, and there are many ways to present this shift in approach to your staff, committee and board.

Take the opportunity to review at  the  end of the fiscal year, compare performance from the previous year and set clear and tangible goals for the upcoming year. After all, the most dynamic  racquet sports  programs are led by a director who has a clear vision of how to enhance the overall experience of a club member!

About the author…

Len Simard, PTR, USPTA Master Professional Racquet Sports, Fitness & Wellness, GM/COO search and consulting executive, Kopplin Kuebler & Wallace. Under Len’s guidance, KK&W has partnered with The Professional Tennis Registry (PTR) to provide PTR members, clubs and employers the opportunity to be the most educated and connected in the business. Len can be contacted via email at or by phone at 407-463-8923.

THE BOARDROOM MAGAZINE January/February 2021 Issue