The pandemic hit the brakes on a lot of things, but outdoor racquet sports and clubs were not one of them. Clubs of all types became a safe outlet for their members, but for many racquet clubs, the increased time and interest in fitness led to a surge in use and membership.
In a recent survey by the McMahon Group taken during summer 2020, “61% reported that racquet sports were more popular than ever.” See what’s trending up and why there are many opportunities ahead for racquet clubs.
This won’t surprise anyone that’s been paying attention and has probably moved out of the trend status to established but for one fact - where the growth has come from at other clubs. Golfers. ““The largest percentage of our players came from our golfers,” Michael Baldwin, Director of Tennis at The Club at Mediterra in Naples, Fl. That means racquet clubs can’t sit back and expect the growth of pickleball to automatically swell their ranks. Take an active role in recruiting and engaging new players to your club to engage in America’s fastest-growing sport according to the United States Pickle Ball Association.
2. Platform (Paddle) Tennis
Similar to pickleball with a smaller court and paddles but with a sponge-like ball, Platform Tennis brings the fence around the court into play. The result is quick action without a steep learning curve and the ability to play inside. This is a great attraction for club in where winter weather can squash a lot of racquet play. Shorter games (around 30 minutes typically) and doubles make it a fun and social event as well.
3. Higher Member Expectations
While clubs have continued to set the standard in member experiences, technology has enabled organizations that might not have traditionally high standards for personal experiences to deliver. The result is a raising of the bar for everyone. Clubs will need to adapt to deliver the dynamic personalized experiences that will wow members and their guests. That means they’ll have to collect more data and have systems in place to evaluate it. As the National Association for Clubs, Club Trends state: “Today’s member-focused club has to have as its primary goal that of achieving high overall member satisfaction with all club offerings. This means that at least 50% of all members have to rate their club satisfaction level as “very satisfied” and at least another 40% of members as being ‘Satisfied.’”
4. Contact-Less Technology
While the US lagged many countries in the adoption of contactless technology, the pandemic instantly made it an instant priority. And everybody figured it out. The result is that nobody is going back to the old way, but instead, expecting it more and more in non-traditional applications. Smart clubs are looking for new opportunities to create frictionless interactions anywhere they can. From
reservations to payments to check-ins, members will expect new technology to make it easier for them.
5. Combined Sports and Fitness
Any sport, racquet sports included, requires some specific muscle strength and mobility. And like any competition, people want to get better and win, play longer, be stronger, etc. Offering training outside of specific racquet play can help members to improve their overall game and bring potential new members or participants out to the courts to participate. “In some clubs, the fitness and tennis departments are partnering,” said Michele Meleski, Vice President, Fitness, Racquet and Recreation. “They’re bringing people from the fitness center out onto the tennis court because they feel safer outside. They can do cardio drills on the court and get introduced to the sport of tennis. You don’t have to have a skill level to get some exercise in, so that cross-promotion has been successful in some locations as well.”
While the prospects for racquet clubs and tennis is strong, club leadership needs to look past the baselines and sidelines for new opportunities to make the courts a fun and great experience for everyone involved. Learn how the Essential Suite for Racquet Clubs enables pros and staff to enhance the member experience.