Coaching advice required

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Failed, Jul 14, 2009.

  1. Failed

    Failed Semi-Pro

    Oct 6, 2008
    Okay then, got two adults who would like to take up tennis. These guys have never really played tennis before so you could say that they are complete beginners. I promised to teach them some basic stuff tomorrow and here is what I thought about doing.

    Should I teach beginners 2HBH or 1HBH or just the forehand at first time?

    1. Teach them the SW grip and the Cont grip and what specific shots they are used for
    2. Make them rally in the servicebox
    3. Feed balls to their forehand and analyze their technique a bit and give them pointers here and there but not giving them a lecture about the mechanics of WW forehand.
    4. Teach them the basics of serve and show few example serves and then make them hit a few

    Is this simple enough for a starter?
  2. wihamilton

    wihamilton Hall of Fame

    Jul 18, 2007
    Washington, DC
    I'd go w/an eastern forehand grip and classic mechanics (as you said, don't mention the WW). You should probably start them at contact so they understand what that body / racket position looks and feels like.
  3. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Dec 28, 2008
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    Would depend on their background, experience, and skill at ball sports.
    If they were baseball players, they're trained, have hand/eye, can react. Same with football (if they touched the ball), basketball, handball, and other racket sports. They would be easy to train and get started.
    But for non athletes, guys who didn't play school sports, you gotta really stay on top of their strokes, balance, posture, awareness, and movement.
    Once they actually hit back and forth a few times, you gotta stand back and allow them to work on their strokes without interuptions...until an obvious flaws develop.
    Some need direct teaching, some need secondhand lessons (like vids), some need to try it on their own based on their previous sports experience.
  4. ubermeyer

    ubermeyer Hall of Fame

    Mar 1, 2009
    2hbh is probably better for beginners. teach them classic forehand first
  5. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

    Jul 13, 2009
    I agree with everything that's been said. Start with the forehand, eastern grip so they don't get discouraged because they don't meet the ball out in front enough for a SW or W grip to work, and 2HBH to begin with. I feel that once you can hit a 2HBH, going to a 1HBH is easier than the other way around. At least, that's what I did, and that one guy called Sampras did it too :D
  6. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

    Feb 19, 2004
    You can introduce both and then make a early judgement call. For instance, I had one of my students hit with the onehander and the twohander. She did well with the twohander and continues to get better and better

    YES! Absolutely YES!! That is what I do. The SW grip is an easy grip to learn so long as you teach them how to shape their arm in the swing motion (see my posts on "pat the dog on the head"). That same student that I have is doing well with the forehand. My kids all hit the ball with SW's.

    SW all the way. the SW offers better arm stabization and linkage between the wrist and the elbow area. Not so with Eastern. Eastern is - well, IMO old news.

    Yes, you can intruoduce this and do it for your lessons on a periodic basis. I wouldnt spend a lot of time here becauae consistency, feel, and ball placement are still immature.

    For beginners, you need a combination of "lecture" and drills while you coach them. Going through the grips, arm shape, etc...usually are lecture oriented (less hitting). Then drilling is important while you smooth the stroke with them. They should also learn how to self=correct themselves. For instance, when they hit the ball sky-high, tell them why. You might have to stop and demonstrate why.

    Sure, make sure you are in the Continental and let them struggle with it. Dont give up yourself. It just takes practice.
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2009
  7. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

    Jul 13, 2009
    ^^ I couldn't agree more with the last point especially. Don't start with the eastern pancake grip on the serve, it just makes it harder to switch. Start out with the continental.
  8. Dreamer

    Dreamer Professional

    Oct 19, 2008
    I think it's easiest to teach them one stroke each session. It's a lot to take in.

    Do forehand one day. Maybe backhand briefly if they catch on quickly. They'll do better hitting only one side, because the mechanics are so different, it's a lot to take in.
  9. plasma

    plasma Banned

    Oct 2, 2008
    I am a ptr coach and 15 year veteran of the coaching game. I say teach them mini tennis and go for rallies that last ten balls in a row. I would do this lots and do stuff off court where they copy what you do in the air and you explain shots.
    Encourage soft controlled hitting, beginers like to wail at the ball and need to be told firmly early on that this is not correct.
  10. Nellie

    Nellie Hall of Fame

    Oct 4, 2004
    I would start with a very short follow through and emphasis on good contact with the ball and a good follow through. I notice that beginners need to develop eye-hand before you can start worrying about fundementals, but you want to start with fundementals that will allow them to develop as players once they improve past the intial eye-hand coordination limitations. I think it is easy to lenthen the stroke for more power as you improve.

    Also, I like starting beginers with two hands from both sides so they develop a feel for body rotation instead of arming shots.
  11. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

    Feb 19, 2004
    This is not totally true.

    I would advise coaches to go to their local library and begin a month long study on human learning theory. It will benefit you in many ways and help you understand how people learn. Although children and adults learn in similar ways, there are enough differences that can help a coach learn how to approach their student and their lesson plan for either one. I would also recommend studying Instructional Design to help improve the organization of your lessons and lesson plans. It will also help you improve as an instructor.

    Remember something very important as a coach. You are not necessarily teaching the student. So dont talk at them. Your challenge as a coach is to teach the brain how to engage in the lesson and allow it to struggle with the information it is receiving. It is the brain you are training not necessarily the student itself.

    It is you that helps the brain to sort, incorporate, engrain, and make automatic as you have your students progress through your lessons and plans. If you do not think this way, you could under challenge or over challenge the student.

    You are also managing frustration levels. If you are not aware of a students frustration levels, you could very well shutdown the brain and prevent learning from taking place (absorbing) even though the student is performing what you asked them too. Frustration and the next feeling anger can impeed learning very easily. And everyone is different here!!! Some have less tolerance and get frustrated real quick, while others can go awhile. Measuring frustration levels is an art/science and coaches have to develop their "hunch" on when they feel a students brain is shutting down. Visual clues are:

    1. Slumping shoulders

    2. Negative self-talk

    3. Self-pity

    4. Outbursts of anger or frustration

    5. Giving up on the drill and not wanting to do it again.

    If a coach is ignorant to this, lord help you.

    In the lessons that I teach we incorporate:

    1. Grip development: This is where we teach the grips to be learned (ie. SW for forehand, one or twohanded backhand grips, serves, etc...). For basic purposes right away I get the brain connected with the feel of the grip and how to switch grips. We perform a very short lesson here in where the student and I are ding nothing but flipping the racquet in our hands and switching grips. I spend a lot of time correcting poor grip changes, etc.... This exercise is only used to get the brain prepared for what it needs to absorb. Do not expect much here but over time, expect much. Students can practice grip changes anywhere. So after three lessons, expect good improvement so you can get into movement drills more.

    2. Stroke development: If a player is going to hit a twohanded backhand, there is no reason to not develop both the forehand and the backhand at the same time. The takeback, drop, forward swing, contact, and followthrough use the same four steps. So drill it! You will be speeding up a students ability to grasp the stages of the swing. If the student is going to hit a onehander, I might introduce the onehander for a drill or two. However, soon, very soon, they will be doing both in a lesson.

    3. Incorporate the Legs: Unless you are lecturing or stopping something to make a point, do not, and I mean do not think the legs should be slowly introduced in the stroke. STRESS THE STROKE!!! However, know when you hit the limit on that. In other words, challenge the student and engage the brain. I usually know that when I incorporate the legs for just forehands, the stroke breaksdown in about 7 hits or so. Maybe less or maybe more - you must take a mental note on that. However, if I have them switch grips and hit forehands and backhands, if the legs are involved they will be thinking on the fly and the stroke most definetly breaks down sooner like in 3 strokes. When breakdown occurs, I stop the drill. The points to this are the following:

    a. You are developing the brain in learning what it has to do.

    b. You are getting the brain to manage more things and adjust.

    c. You are developing psycho-motor skills.

    d. You are getting the student to see several things:
    i. Tennis is more than just standing around hitting the ball.
    ii. They should want to improve the next time around let's say to 5 vs. 3 before breakdown occurs.
    iii. It gives you a coach to see where the stroke is breaking down so you can develop a lesson plan around it for accelerated improvement.

    e. Do not underestimate the amount of information the brain can handle even if you observe the student struggling with it. Manage the frustration levels, give out encouragement, note the things the student is doing well in. Discuss the areas the student felt they needed to improve on based on the information you asked them to perform. Discipline the students brain to take the challenge on and succeed. When you engage the student in his own learning, many of them begin to take things more seriously. Remember, the brain receiving information is one thing, visually seeing the psycho-motor skill development struggle through the learning process is another thing. Make sure you understand the difference and manage it.

    All in all, we are building up tennis players, not patty cake players. Tennis is a running sport and the legs are a must in development. I can't tell you how many players we have at the 3.5 level that short circuit their strokes because of poor leg development.

    What I have learned is when you push people harder, they respond and get more statisfaction of playing tennis as they see themselves getting better and better.

    Finally, it is of my opinion that we as coaches are too soft. Look around you and you will see people take on sports like an Ironman Triathlons, signing up for hard ball, improving in beach volleyball, etc....People engage themselves in these sports because it is a challenge. It takes discipline and practice to get better at the games they choose. Why isn't tennis like this for many adults? I think one of the main obstacles is the coach themsleves and their approach to training tennis players.

    When you incorporate toughness into your training and a no nonsense approach to your lessons, believe me, your students will respond. Never underestimate what a human being can handle. Drill it and make them tennis players.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2009
  12. larry10s

    larry10s Hall of Fame

    Apr 4, 2008
    ^^^^^ Great Post.

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