Good enviroment vs good coach

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by MethodTennis, Jun 9, 2014.

  1. MethodTennis

    MethodTennis Hall of Fame

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    What is more important.

    For instance lets say two 10year olds are of the same level and geneticly identical

    Child A is placed with a coach with all the information, right solutions to the players problems, tec tac physical and mental but trains on his own doesnt compete with anyone apart from the coach in the coaching enviroment.

    Child B is placed in an enviroment with other players of a similar standard right throughout there development stages. Everyone in the enviroment strives to be the best and everyone is competing internally and externally having fun. The player however receives no coaching and can only learn by experimentation and copying those around him.

    At 25 they play a match. Who wins?

    My thought. Player B wins as player A would give up the game after 4 years or so.
     
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  2. mad dog1

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    a good coach would encourage his/her student to play with as many different people as possible so scenario A would not happen.
     
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  3. MethodTennis

    MethodTennis Hall of Fame

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    lets assume that the resource of other players is not one which is available rather than looking for holes in the question
     
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  4. mad dog1

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    sorry, but a good coach would never instruct his/her students to train in a vacuum.

    maybe your question should be, good environment vs bad coach. in that case, the best answer is good environment.
     
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  5. Curiosity

    Curiosity Semi-Pro

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    One question, before I answer: Does player A have a sister named Serena?
     
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  6. MethodTennis

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    Its a hypothetical question mad dog.

    They can have a sister called serena if that helps you
     
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  7. ProgressoR

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    if the coach is good he would play with many different styles so his student can get used to all different types of opponents.

    Is your question really asking us is fun more important than hard coaching with no fun?

    Why not have a coach that does a bit of the other fun thing?

    And for me, the answer to the question you ask - it does depend on how much each player really wants to improve and maintains this desire up to the time they play the match. That one will probably improve more and thus should in theory win.

    Your question is loaded to make us suppose it is the latter kid who maintains this desire as he is having fun.
     
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  8. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    OP, what are you looking to get out of this thread?
     
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  9. MethodTennis

    MethodTennis Hall of Fame

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    Hopefully a discussion. Discussion about motivation for players and a discussion as to the importance of sound mechanics. just discussion. People on here seem to be very concerned about degrees and angles and what the body is doing and not very concerned about the learning process and what the ball does and wanted to hear some opinions on LTAD and what the most important factors are
     
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  10. Ash_Smith

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    Environment shapes performance.

    The part you haven't considered is if the environment in scenario A is right for Child A, based on their personality/preferences, then he/she will prosper. So environment shapes performance when the environment is right for the individual.

    I would say generically you are more likely to consistently "produce" good, long term players in scenario B - especially if the coach is an expert in constraints led practice, but both approaches will work for the individual if it is right for the individual concerned.
     
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  11. Maximagq

    Maximagq Banned

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    Environment is far more important. This is why the Bolletieri tennis academy is so good. It isn't so much the coaching, but rather that there are so many good players that each player builds from the other and they keep improving because of that. It's like comparing a public school to something like Phillips Exeter Academy or an expensive boarding school. Why do parents want to send their children there? To be with the best and the brightest, so their own children can further their knowledge. The city I grew up in had no other good junior player and I seriously lagged in development until I started going about 20 minutes away to San Marino to hit with better players.
     
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  12. MethodTennis

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    I've seen you refer to constraint ed practice a few times, could you elaborate on what that means for tennis coaching? Setting up exercises in such a way that the goal is cannot be achieved if the technical element isn't?
     
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  13. ASH1485

    ASH1485 Semi-Pro

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    A competitive enviroment is definately required, a player who gets a lot of coaching with no match play nor competition will benefit nothing from coaching.

    i was the player B kind of guy plus very minimal coaching.
     
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  14. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    there are a few kids who can become good by imitating good players but most will need some coaching to get it right.
     
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  15. Ash_Smith

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    Constraints led is an approach whereby the coach changes the environmental conditions (court, ball, scoring, game situation etc) in order to guide the pupil towards skill development. It is quite sophisticated and can look from the outside like no "coaching" is actually taking place!

    In terms of skill acquisition it is being shown to be the most efficient and effective method for long term procedural learning.
     
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  16. MethodTennis

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    Any good resources or articles you could link me to with regards to this type of coaching. Always looking to learn, especially as I am an inexperienced coach wanting to learn more so that I can become more effective at finding solutions to people's problems on a tennis court.

    Edit. Had a read of some stuff and doesn't seem that complex. Just simply creating a set up where the skill is being practiced in a stripped back version of tennis where by you'd work through a bunch of scenarios (different targets. Adding a shot before, different types of feed) all surrounding the same skill. Or have I missed something?
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2014
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  17. MethodTennis

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    Double post
     
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  18. Ash_Smith

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    ^^^ hmm, a google search will give a little info, but not a great deal. Search for Ric Shuttleworth, he is one of the foremost skill acquisition coaches in the world and he has some reports/research on the web which might give an insight.
     
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  19. SteveI

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    Yes.. and yes
     
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  20. MethodTennis

    MethodTennis Hall of Fame

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    Thanks will do that when I finish work
     
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  21. Curiosity

    Curiosity Semi-Pro

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    I had an interesting experience at lunchtime today, and it's relevant. I turned on the Tennis Channel and there was Alex Kuznetsov playing Dustin Brown at the Halle tournament.

    I have an adult son who was a junior tennis player, though more of a lacrosse player. In the 12's Alex was probably my son's most difficult opponent. I recall Alex beat him in a super-regional final and a sectional semi, both times 6-3 6-2. So what?

    There was, in the section, another boy (who will remain nameless) with very different parents. Alex's parents made sure that his knowledge and stroke form stayed ahead of his match play. I did not see them push for stroke changes based on match results. Smart.

    The other boy's parents were fanatical, had him play up whenever possible, and shaped everything just to win matches. Losing in the middle of a set? Kid takes a bathroom break and dad (his coach) runs to the bathroom. Need a two-handed forehand for a few months just to win through ultra-defensive play? Do it. And so forth.

    Alex was absolutely the most well-mannered junior. He never fudged line calls and was cool on the court. The other kid? He was always stressed out, and looked toward his parents with a fearful expression when he missed a shot.

    Today (I haven't looked recently) I think Alex is ranked somewhere around 120 ATP. The other kid? Gave it up a few years ago.

    Coaching is very important. Keeping stroke development ahead of, higher in priority than, seasonal match results... is huge early in the junior years.

    Throwing kids into match play in a way that forces them to backslide on their stroke mechanics just to win is a loser. It pressures the kid, leaves a worse technical base, and match play when young is less important than skill development.

    And the reason I asked, in a comment above, "does he have a sister named Serena" was, I thought, obvious. Williams made the very wise decision to pull his daughters out of match play for three or four years, to work on strokes and hit points with coaches guided non-stop by learning goals. Every parent can perform a mini-version of that, as Alex's parents did.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2014
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  22. heninfan99

    heninfan99 Legend

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    Let's assume a worm hole opens in the sky and swallows child A. Child A is then returned after alien probing and becomes a supremely advanced Jr.

    Child A then plays Child B for the 26th time. Who wins?
     
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  23. Topspin Shot

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    Child A. Nobody beats him 26 times in a row.
     
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  24. arche3

    arche3 Banned

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    I'm confused. If your enhanced by aliens the kid should be disqualified. So that's not a legit scenario.
     
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  25. heninfan99

    heninfan99 Legend

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    Well an Agassi was given pep pills by his Dad so alien enhancement should be okay in my book if we are inventing scenarios.
     
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  26. Curiosity

    Curiosity Semi-Pro

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    Do you have any idea how many players wish they could have some alien enhancement because their parents pushed them into too much competition without first making sure they were being taught, and having time and conditions to groove, good technique, level by level? And pep pills? That would just make these players miss faster and bigger.

    The tennis courts of America are full of players desperately adopting the fix of the minute so they can compete next week, never willing to just take a month or two off from competition, find good sources, and rebuild their strokes.

    I read on this site that "learning a pro stroke requires, I read, more than 10,000 hours." Absurd. Learning the strokes takes a few weeks or months. Learning to hit them with pro speed, accuracy, and balance takes years, but when you are going to play 4.0-5.0 players for the rest of your life, you don't need pro speed, accuracy, and balance. You just need better strokes and a little more speed, accuracy, and balance.

    Meanwhile, the players put another 10,000 hours into that stroke they cooked up with their friend Billy and some guy named Lizard3546 on the net who said "hit faster, lower, be aggressive, and try kevlar strings."
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2014
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  27. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Why does that make the statement "absurd?"
     
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  28. Curiosity

    Curiosity Semi-Pro

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    In the context which it was written, the "it takes 10,000 hours" bit was meant to say, directly implied, that "copying a pro's strokes is pointless because it takes 10,000 hours to make them provide a big benefit to a good recreational player."

    The statement was absurd.

    It takes years to build the strokes, speed, endurance, footwork, precision, and match skill of a pro.

    It takes days or weeks to learn the fundamental motions of pro ground strokes, and a few months to get them up to the speed needed to take up playing your 4.0-4.5 pals again...with a lifetime benefit: You're putting every subsequent practice and play session into a very sound technical base, instead of strokes that, 5 years later, still strike you as "needing help." This last actually, by clear evidence, is the case for many players on TT, judging by their sign-up dates and recent comments.

    A pro stroke? The pro stroke is just a small sequence of particular motions made with a racquet, two arms, a UB, and a pair of legs. What is missing are clear descriptions of what is important in that little one second sequence.

    I do get this: Many many readers think that the actual piecewise sequence of pro strokes has little to do with how well and consistently they hit the ball. This conclusion is utterly false. The correctly understood and performed sequence of actions leading up to the hit makes a major contribution to how well, effectively, they hit. The strokes are designed to provide that, with minimal injury and with efficiency of effort.

    Instead, let's all pretend you have to be a genetic freak to perform these simple motions reasonably well, or that even if you perform them well (if slower) it doesn't matter, because you don't have Federer's elbow. Sure, that makes sense.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2014
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  29. MissD

    MissD New User

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    Who's to say the environment for Player A isn't good? Having good mental, emotional, stroke and game instruction from a coach who's style is compatible with a player's sounds like a recipe for success to me. Check out The Tennis Parent's Bible by Frank Giampaolo for more on why I think so. Especially if the player wants to excel… how can you get your child ahead by putting them in with the crowd?
     
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  30. goober

    goober Legend

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    Regardless of who would win this hypothetical match I can tell you which person I would rather be. I would much rather be the player with technically sound strokes across the board. Someone who learned completely on their own undoubtedly would have some major technical flaws many of which he might not even be aware of. After years of play these flaws could be difficult to fix because they are so engrained. At age 25 you have a lot of time to gain match experience and you have a great base when your technique is solid. The other person may reached his ceiling limited by his technical flaws which may be difficult to undo.
     
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  31. Curiosity

    Curiosity Semi-Pro

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    But Arche3, who's gonna know? Legit? I see some big muscles out there on the pro tournament courts. And nobody knows, they only suspect. And they ask "how come he's (she's) the only player in the top 30 whose musculature looks like that?" No answer. "Genes!" So we'll suspect alien enhancement, but really, who will know? And if there are rumors? Just yell "Genes!"
     
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  32. promike

    promike New User

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    i'd say that motivation is the most important factor and then goes good coach. and the environment ... neh :)
     
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  33. Curiosity

    Curiosity Semi-Pro

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    Agree. Which is why it is difficult, even in the abstract, to answer with either A or B in the hypothetical. Motivation requires both good instruction/coaching and some interaction with peer players, doesn't it? It's the balance and emphasis that can vary.
     
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  34. Ash_Smith

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    Does your statement mean you consider the environment to be not important?
     
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  35. Ash_Smith

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    Somebody has mis quoted or misunderstood then, the original 10000 hour "rule" was from a study by Anders Ericsson which hypothesised that it takes approximately 10000 hours or 10 years to obtain mastery of a complex task.

    Whomever quoted it as above has perhaps got the wrong end of the stick?
     
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  36. Ash_Smith

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    Who is to say the child in situation B wouldn't have "technically sound strokes" - given the right environmental constraints the human body has an excellent ability to self organise.
     
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  37. Curiosity

    Curiosity Semi-Pro

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    Yes, the 10,000 hour rule was offered in research as the time it takes to go from zero to mastery as a computer programmer, chess player, and so forth. It was misapplied to the question of copying, or learning by example, a pro stroke, when a player is starting on a base of a reasonable, simpler, but less effective stroke.

    The form, sequence of actions, of a pro stroke can be learned quite quickly, and be put to use (at recreational/club speeds) in a few weeks/months).
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2014
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  38. wannabe good

    wannabe good Rookie

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    But the situation B is an environment without a coach? So who is going to design and enforce the constraints that facilitate learning?

    Environment B assumes just free-form hitting and playing points, I think.
     
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  39. Ash_Smith

    Ash_Smith Hall of Fame

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    ^^^ Ah, maybe - I may have mis-read or mis-represented - perhaps the OP can clarify?
     
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  40. MethodTennis

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    I didnt really think thru the question. I basically said that B would not receive any tec or tac advice. Their learning would be solely from trial and error and adapting so the dont lose. But i guess they would also be able to observe the other payers in the environment so if they were primarily a visual learner and a kinesthetic learner they may suit that situation.

    So then you detract from the original question which is really asking how important is a coach and a good environment when compared with one another and turns it into a convoluted question about teaching in the wrong learning stye for a learner.

    Interestingly Ive never seen anything on that kind of thing. What happens if you try teach complex skills using only the learners least favored learning. style. Do they adapt and 'learn to learn' as it were. I bet they dont and i wouldnt be surprised if the result was giving up which might be what we see in schools all over the world
     
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  41. Ash_Smith

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    ^^^

    Environment and culture still sit at the top of the tree for me - they set the learning attitude.

    As for learning styles, it is vital (imo) that a coach has an understanding of learning styles/learning models and how they apply to their pupils. Knowing where the athlete sits on a VARK scale will shape how they present the information and understanding a learning model like Kolb will accelerate the process further as the information is presented and then practiced in the most appropriate format.

    Theoretically the learning is cemented best when the learner goes through all four states of the Kolb model, and so some learners may need to deliberately practice a stage that they are less adept at (reflective practice for example) to stop them staying in their preferred state.

    Humans are very adaptable and through experiential learning will often be able to flex their learning preferences, the difficulty comes when the style the information is presented in bears little relation to the task and yes, this is perhaps where frustration leads to the learner disengaging.
     
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  42. MethodTennis

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    I'm going to need to find some time to go through this thread and have a read at some of the stuff you've been posting ash it really has been very insightful for me.
     
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  43. Ash_Smith

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    ^^^ You're welcome mate.

    I'm a bit of a geek when it comes to this stuff! I know the game of tennis pretty inside out and biomechanically/technically i'm all over it, but the biggest impact I have ever had in my coaching came after I started to look at the people rather than the game.
     
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  44. MethodTennis

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    Haha I want to have a knowledge of the game in that way where by I understand the technical and mechanics of the body and know how best to pick the right things to work on and the best way to present the information to the player but I am so far away from where I want to be as a coach.

    I guess it the same as what you do as a player though with regards to setting goals. I need to work out what my biggest coaching weaknesses are and start to tackle those. It takes years to develop as a good player and I can imagine it will be a similar journey to becoming a good coach
     
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  45. Ash_Smith

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    ^^^ Couple of tips then!

    Firstly, the best coaches, leaders, managers etc in the world surround themselves with the best people - the experts in each field. Work out what you see as important as a coach and then go and find the best people you can and observe them, question them, listen to them - be a sponge!

    I've been privileged enough to work with and have an audience with some of the best sports coaches in the world (from many different sports), but also with people from industry, education, psychology, physiology, business and so on and i've made sure i've milked them all dry! I worked hard to get into a position to be with them, so I made sure I got the most out of it :D

    Secondly, whilst working on your weakness' is important if said weakness could cause a "mission critical failure", but developing your strengths into "super strengths" will take you much further. Your strengths as a coach are what you will be known and respected for :D

    I was always good at people, but i thought tennis was all about technique and technique was sexy, so I studied loads around it, but actually developing good technique is simple and far more impact can be had through developing the person inside the athlete - so that's where I have focussed the last couple of years and what was an underplayed strength for me is becoming a super strength!

    If you want to chat more "off board" feel free to ping me an email.
     
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  46. goober

    goober Legend

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    It is possible to have technically sound strokes without any coaching and lessons at all. In fact I remember Dave Smith once stating that he never took a lesson. However given the scenario post by the OP, I doubt that if you took 100 random kids and gave them zero instruction, just go out and play a bunch of other kids that were good players and observe them and play with them, that more than a few would make to 25 years old have a technically sound game. Most would start out with using the wrong grips and not even be able to hit a ball. 80-90% would probably quit in the first year because they would not be able to even sustain a rally with these other good players.
     
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  47. LuckyR

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    Why didn't you say so? If you take genetics out of it (like in the OP), then what matters most are: amount of practice and the presence of sound stroke mechanics.

    If someone has poor mechanics their progress will stop short at some point and they can be passed up by the guy with sound strokes.

    In the absence of poor stroke technique it all comes down to practice and the Mental game (again assuming similar physicality as you stipulated).
     
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  48. GuyClinch

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    It really depends on the student TennisMethod..

    Type I : A very talented student is going to do much better in the right environment. They really benefit from the competition and the only coaching they need is watching other superior technique. They can mimic others technique almost instantly as they have very good awareness of what their body is doing.

    Type II: The other type of player - is a student who is not very talented. They have little body awareness. They think they know what they are doing but on film they discover they were doing something totally wrong.. These guys benefit much more from coaching. And if forced to play against others they will just end up being a pusher..

    Obviously this is a bit of an exaggeration and most people fall somewhere in between.. But in general the rec world is filled with type IIs.
     
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