Teaching new players

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by ACCSF, Apr 29, 2013.

  1. ACCSF

    ACCSF New User

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    Hi guys,

    I've been finding myself in situations where I must give instruction to first-time or very new players.

    I have a hopper that I use to feed them balls, I focus on their forehand side first and try to give them an idea of what generating topspin feels like with a semiwestern grip.

    They get the idea after a while, getting a few over the net eventually. I'm wondering if I should just let them do whatever is comfortable instead of focusing on specific strokes at first?

    Is there some sort of established convention out there on how to introduce new players to the game, and how to progress with them?

    Thanks in advance!
     
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  2. 10s talk

    10s talk Semi-Pro

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    KISS

    Keep It Simple Stupid

    less information is better
     
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  3. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    I'm a believer in Dave Smith's advice in Coaching Mastery and start beginners with a continental grip doing racket face and volley drills. It can make a huge difference for a player to get used to the continental early as it is used for serves, volleys, overheads, and in the 2hbh. He has a whole progression in the book.

    TW used to sell that book. Don't know if it still does.
     
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  4. esgee48

    esgee48 Hall of Fame

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    And please don't forget about footwork, including split step. Nothing else matters if they don't position themselves properly to hit the ball.
     
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  5. lpth

    lpth New User

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    For beginners I suggest Will Hamilton progressions at Fuzzy Yellow Balls.
    He uses the method of step by step and breaks down the motion in phases to avoid information overload for the student
     
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  6. CoachingMastery

    CoachingMastery Professional

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    Keep in mind that what you teach beginners begins to become ingrained in not only their muscle memory, but also it becomes their comfort zone. Hence, why millions of players who learned to play tennis using inferior--but arguably easier--methods tend to stagnate well below their potential because they revert back to the familiar methods they first learned and became accustomed to.

    Training players to change grips, swing paths, and footwork AFTER they have had some mediocre level of success and are now competing, is one of the hardest chores for teaching pros.
     
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  7. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    It's funny I always have an impression that teaching a new player who's a litle smart, dedicated and more importantly trusting you is fairly easy. I put myself in a new player's perpective and that's how I picture it and how I would have like to learn it.

    First, get them to feel comfortable with holding the racket, whatever grip, and ask them to practice watching and being able to hit the ball solidly in the sweetspot, regardless where the ball goes. They need to get the feel of using an ordinary flat surfaced object to hit another object, nothing special or fancy about it, just like using a stick, a hammer, etc. That's probably about the hardest hurdle in the journey.

    Next is picking up a rhythm of the ball and moving your body along it. This is a definitive "1-2-3 step" progression which is easy. Anybody could follow and do concrete 1-2-3 steps. Then, go from there ...
     
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  8. tennis_balla

    tennis_balla Hall of Fame

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    This could be a long post, but essentially after explaining and showing them the proper grips, etc the first thing I establish is their contact point and follow through. No backswing or very compact. The backswing develops naturally in a lot of cases on its own I've found. Once I've established the contact point and a good follow through and the new player is starting to get comfortable doing this I then try and get them as early as possible to learn to play tennis with their legs. Tennis is a movement sport, and footwork sets up everything. Tennis is played from the ground up. Footwork is where the foundation of good groundstrokes comes from in my opinion.

    A player can have perfect technique but if they don't know how to move to the ball (and recover) and find their contact point with their feet, so they're hitting the ball at the same contact point every time, its useless.
    For me, a groundstroke begins when the player starts to move to the ball, executes the shot and finishes with the proper recovery. The sooner this is taught the better.
     
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  9. tennis_balla

    tennis_balla Hall of Fame

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    So, so tough. I'm patient because I've been through the process with a number of players but its very frustrating for the individual trying to change bad habits and like you said difficult in keeping your player on track, talking to them and not letting them get discouraged during the process and resorting back to old habits.

    The past few juniors I've started working with now all had the same problem. They neglected or their coaches neglected (I'm not sure which I wasn't there) proper technique and movement. The result has been large backswings, contact points all over the shop, extreme forehand grips because of lack of footwork and hitting balls too high thus changing to a more extreme grip to compensate and so on. I've just started working with a junior player who didn't finish any of his backhand follow throughs over his shoulder and a massive and slow forehand backswing. These kids are still young, but its too bad because they could of been a lot more along in their development then they currently are. Some talent in there as well, and all play competitively.
     
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  10. ATP100

    ATP100 Professional

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    Ask them what they want to learn, you can still teach them basics and satisfy what they want to learn at the same time, but they don't need to know that.
     
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  11. BU-Tennis

    BU-Tennis Semi-Pro

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    Do not overload them with talk about technique early on. For groundies, just make sure they are swinging high to low with a full follow through. Start them with an eastern or Semi western grip.

    Also, for the serve just make sure they're using a continental grip, this is the hardest thing to change if they get it wrong to begin with. Also, work on volleying with a continental grip as well focusing mostly on shoulder turn, as in you need a good one.

    But with all that said, if you find someone who really loves the sport making changes in the future shouldn't be too difficult because they will want to do it. I am self-taught with only a little bit of instruction a few years into playing but because i was dedicated I researched what I needed to do.

    Also, do not be scared of forcing new players to play points and to hit patterns once they can reliably get balls into the court.
     
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  12. tennis_balla

    tennis_balla Hall of Fame

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    BU-Tennis, I think you mean low to high on groundies. I'm sure that was a typo.
     
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  13. Alohajrtennis

    Alohajrtennis Semi-Pro

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    Great post.

    I like the Mr Miyagi approach - (wax on, wax off).

    First month, no rackets, just footwork, movement, shadow strokes etc.

    if they can't deal with it, too bad, its not the sport for them. Tennis is not a sport for those looking for instant gratification. Its more like a form of long distance Karate.

    After a month, they can pick up a racket.
     
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  14. Lukhas

    Lukhas Legend

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    The first stuff my coach does when teaching new players is giving them a basket of balls and they do nothing but taking a ball, make it bounce, and hit a forehand. If it doesn't work, he tells them why and what they should correct. And nothing else. They take a basket, few balls and just hit the ball.
     
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  15. tennis_balla

    tennis_balla Hall of Fame

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    Nobody will last a month doing that, not even the coach haha
     
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  16. Ash_Smith

    Ash_Smith Hall of Fame

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    Probably gonna open up a can of worms here but...for a new coach looking to get a beginner started as quickly and efficiently as possible you can't go too far wrong with the MTM system :eek:

    I still feel as a system it is lacking in many areas once a player gets beyond a beginner level and the coach then needs more outside information, but for getting players going it is a very efficient way to get them to be able to serve, rally and play.

    cheers
     
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  17. Ash_Smith

    Ash_Smith Hall of Fame

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    and after a week you'll have no players left to teach! :D
     
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  18. tennis_balla

    tennis_balla Hall of Fame

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    Oh you've done it now, this whole forum is gonna implode from that single comment alone! Good job Ash, kill joy!
     
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  19. CoachingMastery

    CoachingMastery Professional

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    There is absolutely no reason a good coach can't train footwork and include racquet skills.

    I've seen dozens of coaches overstress "footwork" issues, mainly because they don't know how to teach proper strokes in an effective or efficient manner or don't know how to effectively train both components through proper or creative drills/programs.

    No question footwork, balance, movement, quickness, and speed are all part of improved tennis performance. However, no matter how fast, strong, quick, etc., a player is, if their strokes are suspect, they will rely on dinking, pushing, decelerating, hacking, and other inferior and ineffective strokes to make the ball that they got to go over the net.

    I've seen incredible athletes trained by inferior pros and in every case, these "players" could not get past a certain level, (usually 3.0 or 3.5), and all of them failed to reach their potential yet all of them could move well.

    And, usually, if they are athletic enough to move well, they usually are athletic enough to make reasonably good contact with the ball and usually have other skills associated with other sports that help them play tennis within some perceived level that makes them appear to be getting better. However, in most cases, unless these players were indeed taught methods early on regarding skilled grips, strokes, and footwork patterns, they again never reached their potential.

    As someone said, find out what your student wants to achieve.

    However, be careful here too: I've seen where hundreds of my own students who initially didn't care much for tennis end up loving the sport BECAUSE they were taught skilled methods in which they not only saw themselves passing kids up who were taught poorly, but also because as with most players, they love the sport more when they are performing the sport well.

    So, even a kid or an adult who initially may claim they don't want or don't care to get really good may indeed change their mind! But if you teach them inferior patterns of play, they usually won't improve and thus won't come to love the game as much.

    Obviously, many exceptions. However, those exceptions are exactly that.
     
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  20. tennis_balla

    tennis_balla Hall of Fame

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    ^ Good post.

    Yea, there's definitely not one way to do things and thats it. Gotta be flexible and adapt to each situation.
     
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