Workshop: Avoiding Common Coaching Mistakes

I. Intro — Three Tasks for a Tennis Teacher or Coach

  1. Help students learn, retain and recall new skills

Many common coaching techniques only help people learn skills (short term) or actually interfere with learning.

II. How do People Learn Tennis Strokes?

  1. People learn motor skills kinesthetically, not via instruction (using problem solving, feedback, etc.).
  2. Learner types (visual, auditory, kinesthetic)
  3. Different types of repetitions must occur to promote learning, retention and recall of skills.
  4. i) Blocked (learning)
  5. ii) Variable (retention)
  6. iii) Random (recall)
  7. People need three attempts at a skill (one skill at a time).
  8. Feedback
  9. Results of feedback
  10. Types of feedback
  11. Amount of feedback necessary from coach
  12. Realistic targets — no ball pyramids! Ropes/hula hoops/cones
  13. How long should you work on a skill? — 50% overlearning

III. The Five Goals of On-court Work

  1. Technical, Tactical, Physiological, Psychological, Social
  2. Know why you’re there (to prevent interference)

IV. The Three Physical Tennis Skills

  1. Ball reception skills
  2. Positioning skills (most errors are made with the feet, not the hands)
  3. Striking skills (should be taught last, not first)

V. Traditional Method of Teaching Tennis — Directed Method

  1. Emphasis on ball-projection skills
  2. Emphasis on dead-ball drills, with balls fed primarily from the net
  3. Emphasis on blocked learning environment
  4. No problem solving

VI. Where Teaching is Headed — Guided Discovery/Games Based

  1. Emphasis on problem solving (games-based teaching)
  2. Teaching people to play tennis — Five tactical priorities —
  3. Increased emphasis on rallying (ball reception and positioning skills)
  4. Uses all three types of learning environments (blocked, variable, random)
  5. More live-ball drilling
  6. Practice like you play, or you’ll play like you practice

Create players not hitters. Work backwards — style of play/strategy/tactics/shots/strokes

F. Example of tactics to technique = 1-up/1-back example (start with problem…)

VII. Proper Use of the Hopper

  1. Location of the hopper on court
  2. Proper spacing of feeds

VIII. Interference

  1. How some mental toughness drills violate physiology
  2. How some baseline hitting drills degrade mechanics
  3. Why line drills don’t promote learning and promote incorrect footwork and body balance
  4. Damage caused by backboards and ball machines

IX. Periodizing Drills and Practices

  1. Pre-Season — Technical Work (strokes) — Dead-ball drills to cooperative, live-ball drills
  2. Pre-Competitive — Tactical Work (shots and shot combinations) — Coop. to comp. live-ball drills
  3. Competitive Season — (matchplay skills) — Appropriate match-play drilling/Dynamic stereotypes

Review Bad drills

Line drills — (Volunteers from audience)

#1 = go wide, hit backhand down the line

#2 = go wide, hit forehand short crossourt

Feeding drill — approach down the line, volley crosscourt

Baseline hitting drill — 25; then 25 deep

Private — pro at net, feeds, give instruction (turn your shoulders)

Good drils

Depth = cones, then height above the net

Deep balls = trial, then stay in front of baseline

Forcing = ball in front of service line wins/lose point

Mid-court volleys or returns deep = cones, then out if you miss second or first shot

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