Between the long hours on the court, demanding clients and club managers, and a never-ending pile of work, eventually, it can all become too much to handle.
I’m sure there are times when there’s no end in sight: Tennis Pros are now more likely than ever to skip their vacations, fearing that if their bosses find out they can live without them for a couple of weeks, they might be able to survive without them, period.
As a tennis professional, the burden is slightly different.
In addition to an intimidating pile of work on your desk, you face a steady stream of people whose lives often depend on you and your assistance.
And in my experience, that can cause an entirely new kind of burnout.
REALLY…are we really saving the world by working 70 hours a week.
At the end of the day you have to remember that our job is not to save the world.
Leave that to the doctors, nurses, policeman, and fireman who are really out there saving the world.
It may feel like it when you have the 2.5 team captain in your office complaining about how Susie didn’t cover the lob last night or the Mom who doesn’t think that Johnny is getting enough attention in the 3:30 Hot Shot program.
So, to stay at the top of your game, you’ll need a new strategy to fight that feeling of professional fatigue.
To help you get through it, here are two of the most common causes of burnout and a few ways that you can overcome them.
Burnout Cause #1: The Grind Never Stops
As a tennis pro we usually have an ebb and flow.
Depending on where you live you may be busiest in the winter and early spring—creating some downtime in the summer or you may be really busy in the summer so your winters are slower.
There are also clubs that are just busy all of the time.
So How Do You Deal?
1. Schedule Time Off
Take a look at your schedule and see if you can plan similar rest stops, even if it’s not a whole day off. If you know your deadlines and dates of big events ahead of time, plan breaks around them.
Big day of lessons on Thursday? Take off early on Friday.
If the last week of every month is packed with committee meetings, schedule a half-day off the following week to recover.
You have to take at least one day off per week to keep you game at a high level.
I’ve never understood the tennis pro who says they teach 50 hours per week.
Do you really want to be the person who is the 50th hour?
Are they getting the same lesson as the person who was the first hour of the week and if you aren’t taking time off then the hours just run into each other.
2. Prioritize and Delegate
At a club employees are encouraged to treat everyone and everything equally, including every task (urgent or not) on their to-do lists.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Not everything needs to be done immediately—or even at all. Learn to prioritize and delegate some of the work to your staff.
Remember you can’t do everything so make sure to prioritize what’s important and to have staff pick up some of the slack.
3. Take Some Time to Think
It’s also helpful to put some time on your calendar for deadline-free work. Whether you spend the time brainstorming, big-picture thinking, or reading about your field, you’ll feel better having a chunk of time each week when you’re not running around the office like a madperson.
Burnout Cause #2: Other People’s Lives Are on the Line—Really???
I know you may feel like the members lives are on the line by you showing up to work 7 days a week and working 70 hours a week. But get a grip and realize that the members will be ok if you take some time off.
That makes it hard not to feel guilty when you want—and need—to take a break.
That’s the trap that many of us fall into. Sometimes, it’s even reinforced by our bosses and co-workers.
How to Deal
1. Find a Community
Remember that you’re not the only tennis pro trying to balance your needs with taking care of others. In fact, I’ve found it incredibly helpful to surround myself with people who can relate to my situation. Try scheduling dinner or a happy hour with other tennis pros.
2. Really Disconnect
Even when you do take a day off or a vacation, it's hard to fully disconnect when there's work to be done and people to be helped. But remember, time off isn't exactly off if you spend it checking work email.
To ensure work can be done even when you're not there to do it, start keeping your staff in the loop about all your projects—even training them to take over for you in a pinch. You may not have a pool of assistants but there's bound to be a volunteer or someone who can help out.
Once you feel confident that you're not completely abandoning the people you're trying to help, you'll feel a lot less guilty about getting away.
Finally, at the end of the day, remember that you are only one person and you can only do so much in one day and one week.
So, you should feel OK about taking some time for yourself and doing whatever it takes to make you a happy, productive employee.
When you do, you’ll be less likely to burn out—and that will help everyone in the long run.