Lydia Mountford is a busy woman. She combines studying for her Professional Doctorate within the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences with running her own cardio tennis business. A tennis coach for six years, Lydia has taught every age and ability. She began her tennis career as a player, competing at county level and more recently winning the BUCS league while representing LJMU. Although she still competes, her passion is coaching and for this, she is getting the recognition she deserves. Along with being awarded a Merseyside Sport Award for her coaching, she has also been recognised by the LTA for running the best Educational Coaching Programme in the North West. So what is it about coaching that Lydia loves so much?
“I enjoy the non-tangible daily ‘rewards’ that I receive from working with my clients. Coming home after a day of coaching and knowing that I have helped the improvement of my players in some form – seeing them achieve success is the greatest feeling.”
"I am proud that I am helping many people who have never really participated in exercise before get fit on the tennis court. One of my clients has lost 1.5 stone and has completely changed his life.”
Every Saturday you’ll find Lydia at Sefton Park tennis courts helping players achieve their personal goals, but key to the success of her coaching is making sure that sessions are fun. She isn’t afraid of using innovative techniques to keep things interesting.
“My cardio tennis business I tend to keep really fun. I want everybody to enjoy themselves and not see it as a chore to do cardio. I keep it light-hearted and sociable as much as possible. On Pancake Day, everyone turned up with a frying pan and we did the warm-up using our frying pans instead of rackets. During Christmas, everyone had to bring a Santa’s hat and we practiced catching tennis balls in our hats.”
Placing importance on keeping sessions fresh and interesting is just one aspect of sport psychology filtering through to her coaching, what other ways are her studies helping to influence her as a coach?
“Studying sport psychology has helped me with my coaching because I am better at motivating my clients to work at their optimum. I want to know players' performance goals no matter how big or small they are, and we work out a strategic plan in how to achieve success. I understand how performance anxiety can affect players, therefore I often provide support when players have competitions arising. My studies have stressed the importance of helping people of all ages, tennis ability and background to participate in exercise in some form.”
Lydia is in her fifth year at LJMU having studied Sport Psychology at undergraduate and masters level and then progressing on to the Professional Doctorate in order to achieve her goal of becoming a registered sport and exercise psychologist. She has nothing but good things to say about her time at LJMU.
“I couldn’t see myself studying anywhere other than LJMU. The vibrant city itself is enough to make anybody live here. If that isn’t enough – the University is world leading. Amazing facilities and staff members in the top of their field globally, is just crazy! I feel very fortunate to be able to study here and I have really thrived at LJMU.”
Lydia’s top five tips to starting a business
- Pick a business that you are truly passionate about. If you love what you do, it often doesn’t feel like you’re at work.
- Surround yourself with the right people. I networked a lot with tennis contacts before I set this business up, so I knew that I would have clients coming straight away to my sessions. Networking is really important.
- Stay organised and focused. I obviously have a very busy life studying and owning my own tennis coaching business. I find that I have to start a list of everything I need to accomplish in that day. This helps me keep on track, not lose focus and ensures my University work is up to a great standard.
- Look for your niche market. I knew I could motivate others, therefore I thought setting up a fun fitness class on the tennis court would be my market. I also started my business in January when I knew people start their diets and gym memberships. I tried to target this market and get them to come to the session.
- Starting out, expect some low points and challenges to arise. Try your best to plan for them. Don’t be too hard on yourself or upset if certain things don’t go exactly to plan.
If Lydia has inspired you, why not find out what courses you can study within the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences?
Lydia runs free tennis sessions for LJMU students and staff at the Liverpool Tennis Centre. From beginners through to competitive players, everyone can pick up a racket and get on court. If you have any questions, get in touch with Lydia.