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slowfox
12-20-2012, 07:27 PM
What's your take on group classes? Cardio tennis, bootcamps, live ball drills, drill play, or just plain ol' group lessons - Are they worthwhile?

Some folks in my area have told me that these classes are super fun, but people don't really learn anything. One guy told me he paid $30 for a 1hr group class, 8 players in the group, they lined up and took turns hitting balls fed to them. This guy even counted how many balls he got to hit during this hour. Turned out to be around 35. That's almost a buck a ball..!

Any feedback is much appreciated. Thank you all very much.

NLBwell
12-20-2012, 09:39 PM
Depends on how good the instructor is. My friend who I used to take drills from would feed a 5-shot drill and have 3 people in the drill at the same time - starting, middle, and final shot. Some very fast and complex feeding patterns.

TennisCJC
12-21-2012, 05:49 AM
I have mixed feelings toward group lessons. Some team lessons concentrate more on strategy than technique - I think technique should come before strategy. But, I have been to camps (3 hours a day for a week) put on my D1 tennis coaches that were good - very intensive drills to honed strokes and fitness.

I have not tried this but if you get 3 or 4 friends to form the group and you tell the pro what you want to get out of the lessons, it might be very beneficial.

Frank Silbermann
12-21-2012, 08:59 AM
Where I live group lessons are about $10/hour with lots more than 35 balls hit. Private lessons are $60/hour, so group lessons are my only option.

In D Zone
12-21-2012, 09:58 AM
'Yes' - for learning the basics, understanding the fundamentals, Strategics, drills and socializing (meet new players).

'No' - you don't need to register for every sessions ; you don't want to get overloaded with activities without really retaining or mastering a skill.

To improve:
1. You need to have a regular or multiple (even better) hitting partner.
2. Play with a player that is higher level or better than you (allows longer rallys which helps your strokes to be consistent).
3. Have a plan - each time you go the court (aside from playing a match) work on the drills you learn from the class (again repeatition is the key). Don't just get on the court to just kill every shot - alternate you drills to work on consistency, control and footwork.

Of course, there will times its best to be on a private lesson to help hone / improve your skills.

F. Perry
12-21-2012, 10:55 AM
I did a cardio tennis class ($15 per) and it was good exercise, certainly well over 100 balls an hour, but more about running around than tennis. A good winter option where I live, indoor courts are $40/hour. I now do a drill class which is a lot of hitting, working on specifics, some instruction. For where I am I think it's the best option when it's too cold outside to play.

syc23
12-21-2012, 12:51 PM
I've done classes and it can be hit or miss. As you improve, you really won't benefit hitting 1/2 balls then going back to the end of the queue as it can be difficult to form a hitting rhythm.

Getting a bunch of people together and hire a coach and agree what to pick up beforehand sounds better. However, it's even better to find a better player as a regular hitting partner for co-operative hitting and games. I get 1-2-1 lessons for when I want to work on technical aspects of my game. Best compromise.

Coach Chad
12-21-2012, 01:41 PM
Depends on how big the group is; and how good the instructor is.

JW10S
12-21-2012, 01:51 PM
I conduct a fair number of group clinics and they can be very effective if 1.) the players in the group are of similar playing ability. 2.) the pro in charge keeps things moving. 3.) Live ball drills are used. 4.) a competitive aspect is built in. My group clinics focus strongly on live ball and point play and I find in many ways that in group clinics I can get players to do what I want them to do without just telling them to do it sometimes more easily than in private lessons. I can set up situations in the group live ball sessions that show players what works and what doesn't work both technically and tactically which I find is more effective then just telling them what works and what doesn't. Also my group clinics are run at a fast pace so things keep moving and everyone gets a good workout. I don't like having players standing in lines--you lose them then.

But I have seen some pretty horrible group lessons as I travel around. Group lessons that are slow and where only dead ball feeds are used are pretty much a waste of time.

Wegner
12-21-2012, 03:49 PM
I conduct a fair number of group clinics and they can be very effective if 1.) the players in the group are of similar playing ability. 2.) the pro in charge keeps things moving. 3.) Live ball drills are used. 4.) a competitive aspect is built in. My group clinics focus strongly on live ball and point play and I find in many ways that in group clinics I can get players to do what I want them to do without just telling them to do it sometimes more easily than in private lessons. I can set up situations in the group live ball sessions that show players what works and what doesn't work both technically and tactically which I find is more effective then just telling them what works and what doesn't. Also my group clinics are run at a fast pace so things keep moving and everyone gets a good workout. I don't like having players standing in lines--you lose them then.

But I have seen some pretty horrible group lessons as I travel around. Group lessons that are slow and where only dead ball feeds are used are pretty much a waste of time.

Right, JW. Some coaches have awesome clinics, lively, interesting, practical, educational, and the like. A few aren't so good. It would be really interesting if a respected coach, like Wayne Bryan, who does so many entertaining clinics, published a book or manual on them for coaches. I bet a lot of coaches would like that.

CoachingMastery
12-21-2012, 08:10 PM
Unfortunately, a great number of pros don't know how to structure a group lesson so that it meets two criteria:

1. It provides understanding of how a shot, stroke, technique, strategy, etc., should be executed within the capacity of the groups' abilities

2. It creates a means in which each player has ample opportunity to replicate said shot, stroke, technique, strategy, etc. in a way that the player moves closer to success in such replication.

Obviously, there is much more to successful group lessons: personality, equipment, space, etc.

I always enjoyed group lessons far more than private lessons. I loved large groups, even taught a single group lesson of 75 players on one court. Loved the challenge of meeting the needs of such diverse groups and having them leave the court feeling like they not only had a great time, but that they sincerely learned something that moved them closer to playing at their potential.

Anyone looking to see how I successfully ran such programs, (in addition to coaching one of the all-time most successful tennis teams in the U.S.), can read my 400 page, "Coaching Mastery" which also recounts my father's success of creating a team that won 399 consecutive team league matches in Southern California. (The book is a top-seller here at Tenniswarehouse.com)

Clinics can also provide the opportunity to see how others hit, (good and bad), and allow you to evaluate yourself within such criteria.

Bagumbawalla
12-22-2012, 12:25 PM
Obviously, if the instruction, information, co-ordination, and overall concept of the gorup presentation is poor- then you don't need to ask this question- do some research and stay away from those group things that get bad feedback.

Say, on the other-hand, the lessons and presentation are excellent-- then, still, the answer to going with a group situation is up to you- and must be based on your own personal likes and needs.

Go with a group thing if-- one of your reasons for playing tennis is to meet others and you enjoy the socializing- if you want a sort of introductory experience to a variety of things, if you have a hard time finding hitting partners, if you want to "check out" the instructor before commiting to individual (more costly) lessons, if being with people inspires you to do better than practicing alone.

Go with a more individual approach if- you can afford it, if you dislike the hustle-bustle of crowds, if you are self-motivated, if you are beyond the basics and want to concentrate on specific issues in your game.

sureshs
12-22-2012, 12:52 PM
What's your take on group classes? Cardio tennis, bootcamps, live ball drills, drill play, or just plain ol' group lessons - Are they worthwhile?

Some folks in my area have told me that these classes are super fun, but people don't really learn anything. One guy told me he paid $30 for a 1hr group class, 8 players in the group, they lined up and took turns hitting balls fed to them. This guy even counted how many balls he got to hit during this hour. Turned out to be around 35. That's almost a buck a ball..!

Any feedback is much appreciated. Thank you all very much.

Group classes are good for cardio tennis from what I have read. That is because the emphasis is on exercise and the group setting keeps you motivated. Think of it as an exercise class.

Group classes are sometimes the only way to get in some tennis if you are on vacation. It is an opportunity to get court time, some tennis, and meet a few people with whom you can play singles later. I have done that in the past and will be doing so next week.

Group classes can be useful for total beginners who are testing the waters.

Otherwise, no. They are a waste of time. Most of the time is spent on running pointlessly or picking up balls. They can also be dangerous, due to players taking swings without looking who is around, and because of stray balls. Some of the "drills" are so full of contrived rules that by the time everyone understands what to do, drill is over.

3fees
12-22-2012, 03:50 PM
Group Classes you opened the door.

Yes, Obviously you peeps don't understand group classes , Junior High,High School,Jr College, College are all group classes by a teacher, Here almost all pro's come from group classes, learning from 5 + is done by group lessons, its what you do with what your taught that makes you,,wake up and smell the coffee. also extra credit of doing something on your own merits works...


Drop in clinics are okay, you can learn there too, not all teachers ect will be to a persons liking.
:mrgreen:

Mick3391
12-22-2012, 04:05 PM
What's your take on group classes? Cardio tennis, bootcamps, live ball drills, drill play, or just plain ol' group lessons - Are they worthwhile?

Some folks in my area have told me that these classes are super fun, but people don't really learn anything. One guy told me he paid $30 for a 1hr group class, 8 players in the group, they lined up and took turns hitting balls fed to them. This guy even counted how many balls he got to hit during this hour. Turned out to be around 35. That's almost a buck a ball..!

Any feedback is much appreciated. Thank you all very much.

I'm probaly the minority position here, but I think they are a waste of time, they are why we have guys spending tons of money are are very low ranked skill wise.

One hour? Is that a joke? I play with my son for 6 hours, we come back next day for 4, then 3 more, not all the time but you learn what works and what doesn't.

Maybe it's just I never had a teacher, just a old wood racquet and had to survive, and I did, and got better, and better, MY STYLE IS MY STYLE, I'm not doing someone elses style.

IMO, you should be taught, "Heh, hold it western, continental, or eastern", aside from that tennis is an extension of your mind unto a racquet to do a specific purpose, this can't be taught, practice and doing your own thing is what works.

I will tell you, teaching my son shows me how much I don't know about what I do, it's not rehearsed, it's not something taught, it's just me expressed, the glory of tennis

F. Perry
12-22-2012, 08:16 PM
I'm probaly the minority position here, but I think they are a waste of time, they are why we have guys spending tons of money are are very low ranked skill wise.

One hour? Is that a joke? I play with my son for 6 hours, we come back next day for 4, then 3 more, not all the time but you learn what works and what doesn't.

Maybe it's just I never had a teacher, just a old wood racquet and had to survive, and I did, and got better, and better, MY STYLE IS MY STYLE, I'm not doing someone elses style.

IMO, you should be taught, "Heh, hold it western, continental, or eastern", aside from that tennis is an extension of your mind unto a racquet to do a specific purpose, this can't be taught, practice and doing your own thing is what works.

I will tell you, teaching my son shows me how much I don't know about what I do, it's not rehearsed, it's not something taught, it's just me expressed, the glory of tennis

Are you serious? Do you really think the pros you slobber over got where they were without a ton of instruction? That they just went out and hit until they discovered their strokes? That is so ridiculous. Every pro would have a pancake serve. If you have terrible form and you just practice, practice, practice, you're just going to solidify that terrible form. You're supposed to take the one hour lesson--I can't believe I'm explaining this--and apply it to your game over the subsequent, yes, four, five and six hours, to your game in general. While lessons can definitely be a dead-end--cardio classes help your fitness, not necessarily your tennis--a good pro can and should help you lift your game.

You're seriously telling me you're a 6.0 and you got there by teaching yourself tennis? Are you like a self-rated guy who guesses he's a 6.0 from a few pick-up games, or what? I teach at a Div. I university on the east coast, and the top guys on the team are 6.0. They were recruited for tennis, and many of them are not from the U.S. I can guarantee you these guys did not get to this level by banging around dead balls for hours and hours at the city courts.

zapvor
12-22-2012, 08:23 PM
Are you serious? Do you really think the pros you slobber over got where they were without a ton of instruction? That they just went out and hit until they discovered their strokes? That is so ridiculous. Every pro would have a pancake serve. If you have terrible form and you just practice, practice, practice, you're just going to solidify that terrible form. You're supposed to take the one hour lesson--I can't believe I'm explaining this--and apply it to your game over the subsequent, yes, four, five and six hours, to your game in general. While lessons can definitely be a dead-end--cardio classes help your fitness, not necessarily your tennis--a good pro can and should help you lift your game.

You're seriously telling me you're a 6.0 and you got there by teaching yourself tennis? Are you like a self-rated guy who guesses he's a 6.0 from a few pick-up games, or what? I teach at a Div. I university on the east coast, and the top guys on the team are 6.0. They were recruited for tennis, and many of them are not from the U.S. I can guarantee you these guys did not get to this level by banging around dead balls for hours and hours at the city courts.

haha yea. i mean i have met some decent players that are at a level where they can win a lot of matches, but when you watch them its very obvious they learned on their own, and not via a 'teaching pro' method

Ryoma
12-23-2012, 03:15 AM
Are you serious? Do you really think the pros you slobber over got where they were without a ton of instruction? That they just went out and hit until they discovered their strokes? That is so ridiculous. Every pro would have a pancake serve. If you have terrible form and you just practice, practice, practice, you're just going to solidify that terrible form. You're supposed to take the one hour lesson--I can't believe I'm explaining this--and apply it to your game over the subsequent, yes, four, five and six hours, to your game in general. While lessons can definitely be a dead-end--cardio classes help your fitness, not necessarily your tennis--a good pro can and should help you lift your game.

You're seriously telling me you're a 6.0 and you got there by teaching yourself tennis? Are you like a self-rated guy who guesses he's a 6.0 from a few pick-up games, or what? I teach at a Div. I university on the east coast, and the top guys on the team are 6.0. They were recruited for tennis, and many of them are not from the U.S. I can guarantee you these guys did not get to this level by banging around dead balls for hours and hours at the city courts.

Would love to see the folks here criticizing your techniques.

CoachingMastery
12-23-2012, 11:33 AM
I'm probaly the minority position here, but I think they are a waste of time, they are why we have guys spending tons of money are are very low ranked skill wise.

One hour? Is that a joke? I play with my son for 6 hours, we come back next day for 4, then 3 more, not all the time but you learn what works and what doesn't.

Maybe it's just I never had a teacher, just a old wood racquet and had to survive, and I did, and got better, and better, MY STYLE IS MY STYLE, I'm not doing someone elses style.

IMO, you should be taught, "Heh, hold it western, continental, or eastern", aside from that tennis is an extension of your mind unto a racquet to do a specific purpose, this can't be taught, practice and doing your own thing is what works.

I will tell you, teaching my son shows me how much I don't know about what I do, it's not rehearsed, it's not something taught, it's just me expressed, the glory of tennis

You are definately entitled to your opinion based on your personal experience. Mine is quite different, however.

First of all, I've ran across hundreds of players that believe as you do; almost everyone of them failed to reach their potential because when you are truly self taught you work on things that create immediate "success" and you try to build on that. Unfortunately, most methods, (unless you studied what truly successful players who do reach their potential do), that allow a player to meet some level of early success, (hitting the ball over the net, towards a target within a certain criteria of speed), seldom allow the player to progress to higher levels of skilled play. (Without making significant modifications in their swing.)

I've taught thousands of players who come to me from your exact mentality who complain that they not only can't get any better, (even as they know they have the ability to get better), but constantly are getting passed up by those players they used to beat. (IE: players who first developed a foundation of skills the typically don't feel all that comfortable or confident at the beginning.)

There are many exceptions...however, they are exactly that. I once had a coach in the southwest whose kid that was 'self-taught' by his dad who went out, like you, hit thousands of balls to his kid, (believing that they will excel, somehow, through attrition), and claimed he was a top player in that area. Well, I took that kid to So. California to play some of my kids who were taught through specific training: the outcome of one particular match:

6-1 for the Calif. kid

When the southwest kid asked "Is that your #1 player?" I calmly replied, "Yes, he is #1 Junior Varsity."

This "top" kid in the southwest wouldn't have even made my JV team, let alone my varsity.

This is also just one example...but, I honestly don't know a single truly top-ranked kid, college player, or even a top club player who didn't take lessons and/or study the game as I've described.

I would certainly not risk wasting a kids potential talent by "HOPING" he mastered the various stroke components through some osmosis or attrition of simply saying, "I am only going to do it MY way."

Ironically, those players who are taught correctly actually have a better chance at developing their OWN game because they don't possess poor form that MUST be compensated later. I've found in 35 years of teaching that students that are indeed 'self-taught' seldom have the means to do MORE with the ball...conversly, they often find themselves having to accomodate their unconventionality through limiting their strokes or game in some way.

But hey, they can claim "I'm doing it MY way!"

sureshs
12-23-2012, 06:21 PM
Kids should always learn properly by taking lessons.

For adults, the jury is out.

Metalica
12-24-2012, 04:53 AM
I think its okay to have about 3 ppl in a class. The students can hit with each other and may be have a doubles game where the weakest player team up with the coach. I remember when I lived in Vietnam, they had like 20 people in a class. Now that's just silly.

Metalica
12-24-2012, 05:05 AM
also good point by coachingmastery. Self taught players can get to a certain level quicker than technical players but they can never advance beyond that. Of course this is all fine if you only play for fun i.e 90%+ of club players. Sorry for the double post.

CoachingMastery
12-24-2012, 05:46 AM
One point I'll add here that I should have included: there are different levels of being "self-taught" that can make a difference.

A 'self-taught' player who studies the game, observes what top players do, why they do it, and understands how they do it...then emulates these patterns is going to do far better generally than a player who goes out and tries to figure out how to hit the ball over the net with no preconceived way to accomplish this.

Kid especially will learn the latter method...parents can be the worst person in this because many simply toss balls to a youngster and tells them to "aim higher" "swing slower" "swing sooner" etc...hoping that the kid will eventually learn to aim, swing, and time the shot...which they will. Unfortunately, there are dozens of ways to ineffectively hit a ball over the net towards some given target or zone. By replicating this ineffective method of hitting the ball, the parent (or coach) will effectively limit the potential of the kid.

Adults, even skilled athletes, I've seen learn this way too. They develop an ability to make the ball go over the net quickly, but they stagnate soon after and fail to really make any strides later in life, unless they fight through the frustration of changing the dynamics of their ineffective stroke.

I've seen dozens of players with very few lessons excel. Why? Because they took on the role of "coach" themselves by studying the game as I've described above. They create their own "lessons" by watching, carefully observing, asking questions, and coming to correct conclusions.

Yet, even these players can benefit from lessons from quality instructors. It can save time, clairfy uncertainty, and avoid some mistakes.

I am not advocating everyone SHOULD take lessons. I'm saying that it can help players develop the proper strokes that can help them reach their potential and avoid working on ineffective strokes that can hinder this goal. But, players, especially in today's world of Internet, can study the game better than any time prior and get "lessons" throught this technology.

However, nothing is better than having a great coach who knows his or her stuff, and the personality that can connect with an individual.

Passion4Tennis
12-24-2012, 06:38 AM
One point I'll add here that I should have included: there are different levels of being "self-taught" that can make a difference.

A 'self-taught' player who studies the game, observes what top players do, why they do it, and understands how they do it...then emulates these patterns is going to do far better generally than a player who goes out and tries to figure out how to hit the ball over the net with no preconceived way to accomplish this.

Kid especially will learn the latter method...parents can be the worst person in this because many simply toss balls to a youngster and tells them to "aim higher" "swing slower" "swing sooner" etc...hoping that the kid will eventually learn to aim, swing, and time the shot...which they will. Unfortunately, there are dozens of ways to ineffectively hit a ball over the net towards some given target or zone. By replicating this ineffective method of hitting the ball, the parent (or coach) will effectively limit the potential of the kid.

Adults, even skilled athletes, I've seen learn this way too. They develop an ability to make the ball go over the net quickly, but they stagnate soon after and fail to really make any strides later in life, unless they fight through the frustration of changing the dynamics of their ineffective stroke.

I've seen dozens of players with very few lessons excel. Why? Because they took on the role of "coach" themselves by studying the game as I've described above. They create their own "lessons" by watching, carefully observing, asking questions, and coming to correct conclusions.

Yet, even these players can benefit from lessons from quality instructors. It can save time, clairfy uncertainty, and avoid some mistakes.

I am not advocating everyone SHOULD take lessons. I'm saying that it can help players develop the proper strokes that can help them reach their potential and avoid working on ineffective strokes that can hinder this goal. But, players, especially in today's world of Internet, can study the game better than any time prior and get "lessons" throught this technology.

However, nothing is better than having a great coach who knows his or her stuff, and the personality that can connect with an individual.

Excellent post, Dave, as usual. The highlighted part describes my situation well. I took group lessons when I was 20 at a community college. A year later I took between 8-10 private lessons, and then stopped due to financial reasons.

Since then, I've mainly learned through tips in Tennis Magazine, watching video tapes (Bollettieri, Braden, and Van Der Meer), studying the pros, and getting some useful advice on this forum as well as watching videos on Youtube. I wish I had been able to continue taking more lessons when I was younger. It would have saved a lot of time and frustration over the years, especially with some of the flaws in my serve, which has been my biggest problem by far.

Ugh, I forgot to mention that I have your book, Coaching Mastery. I have used it to teach a few of my friends and family members. It has helped tremendously.

TCF
12-24-2012, 06:41 AM
=================

CoachingMastery
12-24-2012, 07:25 AM
Thank you both, TCF and Passion. I'm glad my book has helped you and others...certainly a goal I had hoped for in writing them!

I hope you both--and all those here--have a wonderful Christmas; or, those who celebrate other holidays or just have a spirit for life, love, health and prosperity, may you all enjoy the season and look forward to a New Year.

Best wishes!

Dave

Passion4Tennis
12-24-2012, 07:44 AM
Merry Christmas, Dave and I hope you continue to post here often in the new year!

goober
12-24-2012, 08:36 AM
What's your take on group classes? Cardio tennis, bootcamps, live ball drills, drill play, or just plain ol' group lessons - Are they worthwhile?

Some folks in my area have told me that these classes are super fun, but people don't really learn anything. One guy told me he paid $30 for a 1hr group class, 8 players in the group, they lined up and took turns hitting balls fed to them. This guy even counted how many balls he got to hit during this hour. Turned out to be around 35. That's almost a buck a ball..!

Any feedback is much appreciated. Thank you all very much.

Cardio tennis is good for what it is suppose to be - a cardio work out that involves tennis. Sure beats running on a treadmill.

Adult clinics- the ones I have been to have been a lot better than $30 for hour with 8 people and 35 hits. More like $15 with 3-6 players for 1.5 hours. Generally these are drills so don't expect to learn anything technical. Are they worth it? To me yes when I don't have anyone that I can play with or I don't want to do social doubles. $30 for one hour with 8 people I wouldn't do.

Group lessons- probably only good for lower level players(1.0-3.5) that can't afford private 1 on 1 lessons. I haven't seen higher level players in group lessons.

Metalica
12-27-2012, 06:41 AM
"I've seen dozens of players with very few lessons excel. Why? Because they took on the role of "coach" themselves by studying the game as I've described above. They create their own "lessons" by watching, carefully observing, asking questions, and coming to correct conclusions."
This is pretty much me you're said however, I don't think I 'excel' yet (getting there through steady progess :D). I didn't refer to this type of learning as self teaching before because I believe I'm still being taught by people other than my self. This type of learning is good because it gives you a more indepth understanding of the game;why you need to do things a certain way. Often I see coaches tell people vague instructions like 'hit longer' or 'punch the volley'. While the player may get it right at that moment, they go back to their old habit eventually. This is just my experience however and I am aware that there are good coaches out there. The point I'm making is that improvement should come also from your own desire to research and experiment, not just the things the coach tells you to do.

Shaggy
12-27-2012, 08:13 AM
I've taken quite a few of them over the past three years (that's how long I've been playing). I live in Chicago where the winters are cold and snowy. Playing outdoors is impossible from about the middle of November through the middle of April, so during that span the only real option for me to get any time on the court is to take group classes.

When I started out, I took group classes exclusively. Started out once a week. Then a couple of sessions later moved to twice a week. When you're a beginner, they can be quite helpful. As you get better, you can still get something out of group classes, but only if you combine them with more time on the court outside of class, hopefully by playing with other people of a similar level. One of the benefits of the classes is they make it easy to connect with people who are about at your level, and if you can hit the court with some of them outside of class, then you'll start to see much faster improvement than classes alone. If you're able to add some private lessons on top of that, again, you'll see faster improvement.

So I don't agree that group classes are totally useless. Most of the time you get out of them what you put into them. But I do have to say that, yes, some of the drills have seemed somewhat pointless and didn't really seem to help me or anyone else improve and that felt like a frustrating waste of time.

Bottom line: I think they can be useful, but you got to do some work on your own as well. If you're just going to class once a week and hoping that's going to help you improve, then it probably won't happen.

The Meat
12-27-2012, 08:57 AM
If theres more than 10 people on one court, don't pay more than $15/hour. You will get barely anytime to actually practice specific strokes.

Better off getting a private instructor and paying more, you will get more out of the lesson.