Good Coaching...

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Ash_Smith, Feb 18, 2013.

  1. Ash_Smith

    Ash_Smith Hall of Fame

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    As I have referenced in a couple of threads recently I am doing a lot of work/research into the most effective coaching practices, specifically around the generic coaching skills rather than sports specific ones. The end goal being to make myself a better coach by having a better understanding of the principals of coaching.

    So, with that in mind...is this good coaching?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpfcGkC83oY

    Please remember, whatever your opinions on RL's technical knowledge, to judge objectively on the style, manor and delivery of his coaching (oh, and ignore all the waffle in the middle about singles sticks :D)

    So - good coaching?

    Cheers
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2013
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  2. tennis_balla

    tennis_balla Hall of Fame

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    I've seen this video before and actually like his delivery however I think the kids is a bit clueless as to what RL is really trying to say, I think its a bit above him but he will eventually get it which is fine. He'll do as RL tells him but won't grasp the whole concept, full meaning of whats being taught until later on but that happens often.

    What I like is that, like him or not, RL has his own way of coaching and even though he may seem to come across as arrogant to some or opinionated he stands by his beliefs and demands discipline from his students which I think is great.
    This is a good example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvLgGkpFotA

    I think this is lacking in a lot of coaching these days. Its more of an old school method but I believe from the way a lot of junior players act on court, be it in tournaments or training that discipline and respect is really lacking.
    I think you gotta show the players you mean business and are not there to **** away time. You can have fun, enjoy yourself but theres a time to work and listen and learn. Robert to me puts out an image on the court that he's someone you don't half ass around with and if you do he won't be afraid to let you know. This in turn will show greater respect from the player and add a bit of distance where its needed to keep the player/coach relationship honest and professional.
     
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  3. julian

    julian Hall of Fame

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    USTA shot

    How can one understand a concept without defining a concept?
    What in hell is "an USTA shot"?
    What about all my responses to your posts in other threads?
     
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  4. TCF

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  5. mightyrick

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    Tim Gallwey's approach to coaching resonates strongly with me. The "Inner Game of Tennis".

    He's the only documented coach I've seen who teaches the student how to properly view their own learning. Dealing with the mental side. Also, though he taught fundamentals, he also allowed the student's natural physical/mental tendencies to develop into a game suited to that student. I think this is powerful.

    Also, the approach of the coach not saying a whole lot. I like that, too.
     
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  6. slowfox

    slowfox Professional

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    Pretty much he's telling the student to hit the ball at the height level he demonstrated with his racquet. Instead of just saying "two feet over the net", the visual helps more. So I think it's good coaching. Not sure if the kid understood what the USTA-Academy ball is though.
     
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  7. 10isfreak

    10isfreak Semi-Pro

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    I'll give you a general pointer that you're unlikely to see coaches talk about or even use themselves -- although it would help them become better coaches.

    Once, I was on a court and the mother a 5 years old tried to explain to him how to hit and move on a court. She emphasized the importance of the ready position, telling the kid not to set up for a forehand or a backhand until he knew that one or the other would come. What struck me wasn't so much the content than the form. She was literally making an argument, justifying it on the basis that setting up would, provided a wrong side-selection, cause the kid trouble.

    If you didn't get where's the problem yet, there's a problem with your coaching. The form of the mother's speech was basically deductive: if A, then B. This sort of hypothetical scenario in which some application yields a conditional results relies unto a propositional logic, which is part of formal operations, not concrete operations and formal operations are not possible before puberty... The kid cannot possibly make sense out of a deductive argument.

    How to solve the problem? Easy: put the kid in a concrete situation where the conditions makes your argument possible. That is, instead of mentally hypothesizing a ball to the forehand when he's set up for a backhand (or vice-versa), literally make that situation happen: send him a ball on the wrong side every time he sets up too early.


    The take homes? Adapt your speech to your audience and instead of focusing on what you say, focus on what the audience members get out of your speech.
     
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  8. tennisfan69

    tennisfan69 New User

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    Ash, I would say this is effective coaching. May not be perfect. But for that young age you don't have to explain why..you need to tell what to do. In this case he is telling the kid to start practicing to hit the ball two feet above the net MOST of the time. In another video he says he is not against USTA ball or academy ball, but most of the time hit hard and deep and flat.

    He is known for this kind of thing and it has worked.

    In the latest interview Federer said after all these years of just doing WHAT his trainer,fitness guy asked him to do, he is able to understand the WHY part. So.. It takes time to understand..
     
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  9. Ash_Smith

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    Agreed - I genuinely feel more learning takes place (by both parties) when the coach speaks less than the pupil!

    Again agreed, so does RL do that in this instance?

    There's a very interesting paper (at least to me :D) by Frode Moen, Norwegian University of Science and Technology and Kristin Garland, University of Minnesota on the "Subjective Beliefs Among Sport Coaches About Communication During Practice", which touches on this very point - how the receiver of the message will decode the message according their own subjective version of "reality". Only through very good active listening can the coach figure out the individual athlete's reality and tailor their messages accordingly.

    As I said, I'm not worried about the technical content, more so the delivery and effectiveness of the learning. You say this is effective coaching? How so? How many times does the coach see the desired result in the pupil - how many times, once practice starts, does he say "too high" "not that high" "don't hit that high" etc etc. Was his coaching intervention actually effective?

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not ragging on RL, he's had great success doing what he does and I agree with Balla, and give him a lot of respect for sticking to his guns and defining his methodology. He just happens to be in the first clip I came across where a coach has a very distinct "style"

    Cheers
     
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  10. Ash_Smith

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    Sorry Julian, I will endeavour to reply!
     
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  11. TCF

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  12. Ash_Smith

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    ^^^Great questions raised TCF! So is a good/great coach only defined by the success of his/her athletes? Were a coach like RL more flexible in his delivery or coaching style (not necessarily his game philosophy), would he experience more success (i.e. instead of 10/1000's success ratio could his ratio be 100's/1000's)

    Like I sad though, it could have been any coach with that style of delivery, I don't want this to turn into a specific Lansdorp debate, only whether that style of delivery is effective and could constitute good coaching?

    Cheers
     
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  13. oldhacker

    oldhacker Semi-Pro

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    Ash - I did not think that was great coaching considering it was directed at a 7 year old kid. When coaching kids that age (in fact this applies to all ages) I try to keep the talking down and the demonstration up and I get the kids to realise for themselves what is going on by asking questions at appropriate times. Kids learn by seeing what to do and how to do it not being told. The coach did not demonstrate any of the shots he was talking about. Even in his endless speech he seemed to assume knowledge of what he meant by USTA, Academy, Lansdorp shots. It got better once the kid started hitting as his feedback was pretty good.
     
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  14. julian

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  15. julian

    julian Hall of Fame

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    USTA shot

    I am NOT 7 years old but I do NOT know what an USTA shot is.
    Can someone help me before I die TOMORROW?
     
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  16. tennisfan69

    tennisfan69 New User

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    Julian, in Landsdorp's world there are three types of balls from a net clearance perspective ( height of the ball that clears the net ). He drives his students to hit balls with a max 2 feet net clearance most of the time. then he calls USTA ball which is hit with a 5-6 feet net clearance. Then he calls the ACADEMY ball which is hit with more than 6 feet net clearance. all this is during a rally mode. basically his technique is drive the ball as hard as possible flat and deep. you do the USTA or academy ball only when you are defensive.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2013
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  17. tennisfan69

    tennisfan69 New User

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    So Ash, if we take this in more general terms, in a college in a math Algebra class where there are 30 students sitting, does the teacher adapt the delivery of his teaching to meet 30 different students learning style?
    why should this be any different in tennis when teaching the BASIC things?

    I fully agree coaches most of the time take undue credit for the students success.
     
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  18. julian

    julian Hall of Fame

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    Comparison is FLAWED

    The comparison is good and flawed at the same time.
    It is flawed because for this particular case we had ONLY ONE student
    for a tennis lesson with RL
     
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  19. marosmith

    marosmith Professional

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    I think Landsdorp is a much needed breath of fresh air in a tennis world where there is a monolithic style of teaching led by the "academy" style. I would love to take a lesson or two from him and learn how to flatten out my darn forehand!
     
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  20. Ash_Smith

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    My counter would be in your example of a maths class (that's right, it's Maths :D) would be firstly, that is "teaching" and not "coaching" (before anyone asks, IMO teaching is the sharing of knowledge, the coaching is bringing about a permanent change of behaviour) and secondly, yes a good "teacher" should vary their delivery to meet the needs of their class. That might not mean 30 different styles, but it should mean explaining concepts in maybe 2 or 3 different ways to help ensure all major learning styles are covered.

    To answer "why should this be any different in tennis when teaching the BASIC things" - the answer is simple, because it is much, much more effective coaching!

    Cheers
     
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  21. Ash_Smith

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    But, in this case, did he actually teach the pupil "how to flatten out his forehand"? I don't recall actually seeing any "coaching" take place - only a lot of talk and a lot of negative reinforcement during the practice?

    Cheers
     
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  22. tennisfan69

    tennisfan69 New User

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    Agree, but in particular this video is only a part of the lesson right? we dont have the full video on whether he coached on how to flatten out.. for full disclosure i have met RL and have taken numerous lessons for my players.. he actually explains pretty good. the thing is I am one of the remaining 9990 students who didnt get like the 10 students who got it part and had their own natural skills to make it to the top. but his lessons are pretty intense and there will be permanent change after long periods of time..
     
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  23. TCF

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  24. BevelDevil

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    Throughout the whole video I was wondering how much the kid understood of what RL was saying. I had the feeling the kid didn't really understand a lot and just sort of nodded his head.

    This is the downside of having a coach with an aura of supreme authority; students will tend to hide their confusion more. Of course, I could be wrong and the kid is highly technically knowledgeable, I don't know.

    The father seemed to get it and be really impressed, though, and he's paying the bills and is probably working closely with the kid. So perhaps RL was talking to the parents just as much as the kid. Which makes sense (especially business sense...)
     
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  25. Ash_Smith

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    So, does this mean you keep your "style" and hope that it works for the player you have with you and accept that it won't work for the majority, but one or two may come through (or more depending on the market where you live). Or, as an alternative, do you try to tailor your "style" and delivery to the individual and maybe give each individual a better chance of reaching their potential?

    Could RL have had more successful players had he the ability to tailor his delivery?

    Cheers
     
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  26. tommyfr

    tommyfr Rookie

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    He explains there are 3 kind of shots, and the lower one is the right one in most situations and the one Perry should practice.

    But during this one minute intro it is only he talking, no question to the boy, or better socratic questions....

    Then after the interruptions with the parents, on net sticks, and his story about Tracy Austins sister or whatever, they start to feed and hit.

    During the hitting he keeps on giving feedback to the boy, and that is very good. He mentions hitting lower and he mentions hitting harder for example. And he mix it up by asking the boy to hit some Academy balls, just to get feel for the difference. Very smart.

    After some 30=40 balls or so they meet at net and he demonstrate a more firm swinging pattern vs a floppy wrist at takeback and at contact.

    So he has a GOAL with the exercise. He gives a lot of good feeding balls, same speed and same height, so good REPETITION can take place, and intuitive adjustment/learning. He MONITORS the strokes and give FEEDBACK during the hitting. He summarizes and concludes at the end what to think of in the future, the essentials of efficient forehand stroke mechanics.

    So Very Good, isn't it?
     
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  27. thecode

    thecode Banned

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    And is that instruction correct? Does anyone agree that the most common ground stroke you need and use where they were practicing behind the baseline is low over the net, flat, and hard like that?
     
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  28. tommyfr

    tommyfr Rookie

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    i actually didnt mean to say that I agreed with RL proposition on that (flat is the way). I believe a heavy topspin or windshield wiper has its place, especially among men. And a lot of top ATP players play with big topspin, with a lot of net clearance.
     
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  29. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    I'm in agreement with this. It was hard to hear, but after listening to the hard to understand parts a couple of times it was clear what he was getting at. What I looked at in the end, was whether Perry improved on hitting the ball flatter and lower - which he did. When he did that RL then had him mix in "Academy" balls with the lower balls, reinforcing that the Academy balls are not inherently bad.

    What everyone is missing here is that RL is really coaching the (way over-involved) parents. [Singles sticks - really?] The kid sees the visual cues of RL's racket and gets the verbal cues during the hitting, but the words in the explanation are really aimed at the parents. They are the ones who will spend the most time with little Perry on the court and the ones who will spend the most time drilling him on hitting the ball lower and flatter. They are the ones who need the know the whys and wherefores and take that into their practice sessions with him.

    Also, since the parents are paying the bills, you want to make them happy and so don't tell them they are psycho to carry around singles sticks to practice sessions. It won't hurt anything and in the meantime tell them a story backing up the reason for Perry developing the flatter stroke. Thus motivating them further to train Perry that way.
     
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  30. julian

    julian Hall of Fame

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    Bringing parents to drill is a GAMBLE

    Bringing parents to drill is a GAMBLE
    It is like bringing foreign teaching assistants to teach computer science courses at STANFORD
     
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  31. tennis_balla

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    It shouldn't be a gamble. Why would you want to keep parents away from your lessons? One of the biggest complaints I hear being said to me from parents are they have no idea whats going on court with their child when taking lessons from other coaches. They are kept in the dark, and they are paying for it. Not allowed on court, coach never has time to have a talk with them. Just show up, pay, leave. Most just accept thats the way it is, but it shouldn't be. The parents are the ones paying for it, it should be their responsibility to know whats going on and to be involved. How their kids is progressing, their behaviour on court, their work ethic etc etc. If the parents just wanna drop off their kid and turn it into a babysitting session then thats the wrong approach and they shouldn't be giving their child private lessons.

    I'm not saying this is what you do Julian, I'm talking in a general sense now of what I've seen coaches do. They **** around, give half ass lessons, ask for a full fee and give the usual BS, "Your son is doing great, he's progressing but it'll take some time." They don't want the parents around and their excuse is because they get too involved in the lessons or distract the kids. Ok cool, so as a coach then assign guidelines while they're on court. I've personally never had any problems in all my years coaching of parents overdoing it on court. How you handle this is up to you. If the parents have at least an average IQ they should get this right away and don't have to be told anything. If not then you're most likely gonna have one hell of a time with them regardless of what you do. You can't fix stupid.
     
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  32. tennis_balla

    tennis_balla Hall of Fame

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    Also, asking about singles sticks is being over involved? Legit question and I think RL should have them. Almost all courts in Europe use them, and its a must at high ranked junior tournaments anyways which if you're paying $300/hr to RL you're wanting to head in that direction with your kid.
     
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  33. julian

    julian Hall of Fame

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    I went a bit different direction

    I was talking about parents RUNNING Drills by themselves sometime in future
    It is more or less-how to teach PARENTS to teach?
    OR how to coach MORE JUNIOR Coaches to coach?
    Ash Smith knows more
    I was partially misunderstood but your topic is interesting as well
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2013
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  34. tennis_balla

    tennis_balla Hall of Fame

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    Gotcha, sorry.

    You mean parents teaching their own kids? So you believe the on-court coaching should only be left up to the coach?
     
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  35. julian

    julian Hall of Fame

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    Middle of the road question

    We have the following scenario:
    Say Perry will take five lessons from RL.
    Next parents will move,say,to Bedford,Massachusetts (Lord forbid)-see my signature.
    Does it make sense FOR PARENTS to run simple drills with Perry BASED on their OBSERVATIONS
    from sessions wilth RL
    I have said that chances of success are 50% .I call it a GAMBLE.
    One can call it a glass half EMPTY
    Take care.
     
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  36. tennis_balla

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    Yes it makes sense.
     
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  37. Mahboob Khan

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    I could not see the YouTube video as the YouTube is banned here. I will just comment on "the height over the net".

    Just observe the top ATP players:

    For example if a Nadal or a Djokovic is hitting from behind the baseline in a baseline rally situation their balls travel over the net by at least 5 to 6 feet and in some cases more.

    However, when they have to pass then they keep their passing shots low .. may be 1-3 feet over the net.

    In case of winners from the mid-court they keep their balls around 2 feet over the net.

    Yes, in a coaching session, if you are teaching how to hit high with topspin then the Coach may establish certain parameters. In order to teach height (topspin) try the following drill:

    Height/Topspin Drill:

    Place chairs on the opposite side service line.

    Feed balls from the basket and tell your student that his shots should clear the chairs and land inside the baseline.

    Obviously, this drill is good for those players who often hit the net with their shots.
     
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  38. Ash_Smith

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    The parents job is to Parent. The coaches job is to coach. Never the two shall mix :D (at least in my opinion)

    Cheers
     
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  39. Ash_Smith

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    Sorry, I though I made the point earlier - this thread is not about the teaching points themselves or whether anybody agrees with them, but rather the manner of delivery and whether that is optimal.

    Cheers
     
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  40. Ash_Smith

    Ash_Smith Hall of Fame

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    Again, the point is not whether the information is "correct" but whether the manner in which it is delivered is most effective.

    Cheers
     
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  41. Ash_Smith

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    So does that mean that saying "not like that", "I don't like that ball", "c'mon", "go", "close it up" is good feedback and therefore good coaching? :D
     
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  42. tennis_balla

    tennis_balla Hall of Fame

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    My dad was my main coach so I have a bit of a different point of view on this. I also knew a lot of other juniors playing at my time who had it the same. It can work out really well or go terribly wrong. Most of the time it doesn't work out well, but sometimes it does. I had a positive experience. My dad would coach me whenever I wasn't taking lessons, finances played a role in this as it does with a lot of families which is why a lot of parents opt to coach their kids.

    I noticed in Canada back when I was a junior a lot of the kids parents were also coaching them in some form or another. A fair number of the top kids had their dad be fairly involved, in a positive way and it worked out well.

    Its a really touchy subject and I understand your opinion and its definitely the safe route to go especially if the parents can afford a lot of lessons and pay for a full time coach. Sadly though it's not always the case.
     
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  43. bhupaes

    bhupaes Professional

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    Can a 7 year old child generate enough power to keep the ball just two feet above the net, and consistently maintain a reasonable depth? Just curious...
     
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  44. tennis_balla

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    No, no way they can barely put it over the net ;)
     
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  45. bhupaes

    bhupaes Professional

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    Well... I guess RL knows what he's doing, even though it seems kinda aggressive (in more ways than one!) in the context of a little kid like the one in this video.
     
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  46. tennis_balla

    tennis_balla Hall of Fame

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    I was being sarcastic. 99% of 7 year olds will struggle with power, opting for height over the net to get depth. There are 7 year olds who can hit the cover off the ball sure....but finding one is very rare.
     
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  47. bhupaes

    bhupaes Professional

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    Agreed, that's been my experience also, having had to play an assistant coaching role many years ago for little kids.
     
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  48. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    What do you say to kids when you are feeding them balls? [This is an honest question as I respect your abilities.]
     
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  49. Avles

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    So many pros didn't follow that model though... just off the top of my head, Connors, Agassi, Nadal (ok, uncle), Seles, Williams(es), Bartoli, Sharapova...

    Of course it takes the right kind of parent, the right kind of relationship and the right kind of parental intervention, but it certainly seems like parental influence can be a powerful force for improvement (if not always a thoroughly positive one).

    To take an analogy from another field, Suzuki method calls for extensive and continual parental involvement in the child's musical development. I'm not sure that tennis is so different.
     
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  50. high and deep

    high and deep New User

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    Are there any resources available to help parents go the DIY route and act as the primary coach? That's what I am doing. I need all the help I can get!!
     
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