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How to Fuel Your Passion: Become a Buddy Up Tennis Coach!

by Beth Gibson, President of Buddy Up Tennis

Passion and enthusiasm are two necessary ingredients for a successful and sustainable tennis program. There is no better example of this than the athletes, coaches, and buddy volunteers at Buddy Up Tennis. Buddy Up Tennis is constantly looking for high-energy coaches with the same passion and enthusiasm to help it continue to grow.

Buddy Up Tennis is an adaptive tennis and fitness program for individuals with Down syndrome. Buddy Up Tennis was born 10 years ago in Columbus, Ohio as a result of the passion and enthusiasm of one tennis pro, one volunteer, and a three-year old boy, Will Gibson, who has Down syndrome and wanted to play tennis like his big brother. What started as an informal tennis lesson for Will has now grown into Buddy Up Tennis, a nationwide non-profit organization that serves over 550 athletes with Down syndrome with the help of 75 coaches and 750 buddy volunteers in ten states and 21 cities.
The key ingredients that have made Buddy Up Tennis such a success include:

Buddy Up Tennis is on-going rather than a one-time event.
  • Weekly clinics are held on Saturdays, typically August through May, depending on location, weather, and court availability.
  • Each clinic is 90 minutes; 30 minute fitness and 60 minute tennis.

The curriculum consists of seven star levels of progression.
  •     Athletes range in age from five to adulthood, with our oldest athlete approaching 50-years-old!
  •     Athletes are divided by age and ability.
  •     Different types of tennis balls (i.e., foam, red, orange, green dot, and yellow) are incorporated into each level of progression.

Our Travel and Training Team of coaches leads the launch of a new clinic location with a hands-on Boot Camp (training).
  •     Our curriculum and training videos shared at each launch.
  •     The Buddy Up Tennis program director maintains an open line of communication with coaches and provides ongoing support.
  •     Our Travel and Training Team periodically returns to each location for continued assistance and training to support ongoing growth

Community partnerships are needed for support.
  •     Buddy Up Tennis partners with local Down syndrome and other organizations to identify potential athletes and secure funding for coach, court, and equipment fees.

A team of three coaches is needed to start a new location
  •     Coaches commit to and lead the program and clinics with the help of a local coordinator.

The curriculum consists of seven star levels of progression.
  •     Buddies must be at least 14-years-old and, although tennis experience is helpful, it is not a requirement.
  •     Buddies are expected to provide direct feedback and guidance, as well as be extremely energetic and enthusiastic.

There is an incredible demand for structured tennis and fitness programs for individuals with Down syndrome, and the Buddy Up Tennis athletes, coaches, and buddy volunteers are extremely passionate about the program. This is what has made Buddy Up Tennis such a success and enables it to continue to grow at a rapid pace.

Buddy Up Tennis has developed a turnkey program to create new locations, but it requires enthusiastic coaches throughout the United States.

If you want to fuel your passion and enthusiasm, work with incredible athletes, and help create a new Buddy Up Tennis location, or would like more information about participating at an existing Buddy Up Tennis location, please visit our website at or contact us at: Beth Gibson, 614-579-8808,

About Beth Gibson

Beth Gibson is the volunteer leader and visionary of Buddy Up Tennis, Inc. since it was formed over 10 years ago with the support of her husband, Rick, and sons, Keegan (20) and Will (13). The Gibson family resides in New Albany, Ohio and is committed to transforming the lives of everyone involved in Buddy Up Tennis and the Down syndrome communities.
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