BROOKFIELD, Wis. — A tennis coach in Brookfield is one of the most well-known coaches you've never heard of. He is also one of the most expensive and yet inexpensive coaches in the U.S. He is Ian Westermann.
Westermann posts free tennis lessons to his YouTube account Essential Tennis for his 250,000 subscribers. In total, he has created more than 10,000 pieces of content for his YouTube account and his website, Essential Tennis.
"The 21st century is just all about content and distribution. And so the more helpful, the more relevant, the more authentic I can make my written, my audio, my video stuff, the more people engage with what we do, and the more people we can serve, and help them reach their goal," Westermann said.
He hopped on the YouTube trend back in 2009 and was able to leverage the power of the internet to be one of the most popular and sought-after tennis coaches in the world. He films his videos inside the Elite Sports Club-Brookfield. His team includes multiple coaches and a production staff.
However, he isn't just a YouTube and online personality. Westermann also does in-person lessons but he only offers that a few times a month.
"So I only spend about five or six days on average a month on the court interfacing with a student," he said.
The cost isn't what you'd get with your standard one-hour tennis lesson at your local tennis club. He has three levels of in-person lessons: three hours for $1,000, six hours for $2,000, or two days for $6,000. The $6,000 package includes hotel accommodations, dinners, in-depth analysis, and a video of the lesson from trained production staff.
"I charge a lot of money for that because I could be spending my time creating a course or YouTube video or something that would make a really huge impact on tennis and/or on our business," he said.
He always films students during the lesson to show them their form, how they can improve, and to compare themselves to what the pros are doing. It's an intense few days, but for those that can afford it, Westermann said they are getting a lot of value for the time spent.
"My goal is basically to give people a year's worth of progressions and training and insight and revelations in a day or two."
The majority who do the in-person lessons aren't from Wisconsin. They are flying in to see Westermann. So to make things easier on his clients, he offers clinics in places like Los Angeles. What's more, he hosts week-long clinics in Hawaii and Costa Rica. Those cost $11,000 and $13,000 respectively.
"People come out here and work with us when they have discovered that they can’t get what they need from anybody else in their local area," he said.
Westermann will tell you he isn't a world-class player. While he did play four years of college tennis at Ferris State University in Michigan, he isn't a pro. If he was, you probably would have seen him at Wimbledon. However, he has made coaching his life's work. When it comes to teaching others the game, there isn't much better than him.
"Every time I step out on the court, I learn something myself. A little bit different angle or perspective of looking at something. Over time I work with a student, I have to come up with a slightly different way of explaining something or a slightly different process of leading them through drills, so they can understand how to move their body correctly."
Westermann loves tennis and coaching is his passion. Even though he has made thousands of videos, he doesn't see himself running out of ideas anytime soon, which is great news for all of us - with pockets big and small.