The racquets industry is conservatively expected to grow nationally 200% over the next five years. George Laffey, Racquets Director at Nashawtuc Country Club in Concord, Mass., has seen success by building a family culture where the entire family is utilizing the racquets facilities.
By George Laffey; Racquets Director; Nashawtuc Country Club in Concord, Mass.
The racquets industry is growing at unprecedented levels! It’s an incredible time in the industry where racquets as a family (tennis, pickleball, platform tennis, padel) is conservatively expected to grow nationally 200% over the next five years. There has been no better time to be a professional growing in this industry, and I’m happy to share my journey and where I see the future of racquets going.
I believe that complacency is your worst enemy as a racquets professional and in life. I always strive to grow, learn, push myself to be better, try new programs and events. That being said, we are at an evolution in racquets where you are no longer just a tennis professional, but a racquets professional. I didn’t need to hear this a third time as a young tennis pro, so I took the leap and dove into getting certified, playing competitively, and took the lead in bringing programs to my clubs in tennis, platform tennis, and pickleball.
Being a passionate Triple-Threat Professional (Professional Tennis Registry Lingo for certified in these three sports: a PSR designation) has set me apart from my peers in the industry early on in my career. Now being a Triple-Threat is one of the core requirements for many Director of Racquets positions throughout the country.
I was taught at a young age that no one can take your education or knowledge away from you, and with that I strive to learn, network, and get certified. With the growth of racquets and technology, continued education has become more important than ever. Recently, I completed the Certified Racquet Sports Executive program (CRSE) and have joined The Directors Club of America, which has been invaluable to my learning curve, network, and overall career as a young Racquets Director. Most importantly the implementation of this knowledge into my administrative work, programs, events, and management style has helped me provide a world-class experience for my membership.
As important as certifications and continued education is, being lucky enough to have a mentor is just as pivotal for your growth. I have a mentor who is a Director of Racquets at a Top 10 Platinum Club of America who has changed my life, shaped my career, and helped make me the professional and leader I am today. I am forever grateful for this relationship and would recommend to all professionals out there that strive to be future leaders, to find a director or mentor who you respect and try to learn as much as possible from them. Having a trusted mentor has been monumental for my growth, and I can’t wait to be a mentor myself one day.
My mentor and many racquets leaders talk about the crossover rate of their memberships and how the best in the industry have more than 50% of their memberships playing two or more racquet sports. I believe this crossover metric is incredibly important for continued growth.
Personally, I like to track what percentage of the family is playing a racquet sport. Part of my success has been to build a family culture where the entire family is utilizing the racquets facilities. I literally get goose bumps and a great sense of pride when I see all three sports being played at the same time and entire families utilizing the racquets facilities to the fullest. Being able to provide this positive experience and be a valued part of my memberships’ lives is why I got into teaching tennis as a young pro in the first place.
I believe growing junior programs and events has been the foundation of building this family racquets culture and will continue to provide a pathway for the entire family to enjoy these lifelong sports together.
The future of racquets is very bright … we are in the early innings of the boom! I believe Padel is the next racquet sport to take off in America. I plan to be getting certified and start playing this sport in the very near future.
My advice to all professionals is to embrace change, continue to learn, don’t be afraid to fail, and have fun. This is a truly special industry to be a part of and I’m so excited to see what the future of racquets looks like. I hope that sharing my journey and some of the tools I have used to succeed can help future leaders in the industry as we grow together.
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