Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Cop ? An Accountant ? Nope....I'm a Tennis Teaching Pro

I'm 100% on board with this article - and if you're not on court with me find a pro like me.... you won't be sorry. 

Problem-Solving Skills to Look For in a Tennis Teaching Pro  

It's great to know where you want to go, but you also need to know how to get there, and in tennis instruction, the best route isn't always the one that looks quickest or most direct. If you're learning a stroke for the first time, you'll probably learn it best from a teaching pro who knows how to use a progression to teach it. A progression breaks a complicated task, such as the serve, down into easily mastered steps that each lock into the student's mind a key element of the stroke, such as point of contact. A progression intentionally takes longer to get to the full stroke, but once the student arrives, the stroke is sound. For beginners, mastery usually occurs faster, because the time it takes without a progression to retry the full stroke over and over before it starts working correctly usually exceeds by far the time the progression would have taken.

What to Do vs. What to Make Happen:

Once a student has fundamental elements such as the grip properly set, either of two main types of stroke correction might be more effective. Let's say your forehands are flying too high and thus long. The what to do approach would give you direct instructions on how to change your stroke, such as to tilt your racquet face down more on the backswing. The what to make happen approach would tell you to try to hit the next three balls into the net while still swinging low to high, letting your instincts and intuition lead you to make the adjustment needed to make the ball go lower. (Students usually hit lower without actually hitting the net.) Most teaching pros start with what to do, because it's quicker and more direct, and it increases the student's understanding of the biomechanics and physics of the stroke. The what to make happen approach is often easier for the student, though, because it doesn't require as much conscious thinking. Some students do much better with one approach than the other. Look for a pro who uses both approaches.


Teaching and correcting strokes and tactics often requires some creativity, such as devising images and analogies that will be memorable for a student at a given level of experience and intellect. Look for a pro who puts ideas in a form you find easy to remember.

A pro's creativity is most valuable when inventing or modifying drills and games. Many of the best-known tennis drills and games have major flaws. Try to find a pro who has invented or greatly modified a large set of games and drills and who seeks your input in continuing that process. You'll enjoy applying your own creativity and having significant input into your drills and games, and you may see your ideas take hold as popular improvements used throughout the program.

Fostering Self-Reliance:

Much as some players (including many tour pros) seem to wish they could, you can't bring your coach out onto the court to play the game for you. In tennis, you have to rely on yourself, or in doubles, on yourself and your partner. Although it may be in a tennis pro's self-interest to make you feel entirely dependent, you will do much better by knowing how to analyze, correct, and improve your own game. This won't make your teaching pro obsolete--even the world's all-time greatest champions have had plenty yet to improve--but it will help you think your way through matches, practice more effectively, and perhaps most important, feel confident that every problem has a solution.
By Jeff Cooper-About

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