Instructing my daughter

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by joeygun, Sep 21, 2011.

  1. joeygun

    joeygun New User

    Sep 8, 2011
    She's a freshman in HS, wants to try out for the girls team next spring. She's had a little bit of instruction but is pretty much a beginner.

    I'd like to give her the best instruction, practice, drills that I can in the 6 months or so before girl's season begins.

    Appreciate any tips, book recommendations or advice anyone can provide.

    Right now, my teaching consists of us going to the courts where we just hit or I will feed balls to her forehand or backhand and encourage her to move her feet and keep her eye on the ball.

    I'm worried, though, that anything beyond that will introduce bad habits and that that is best left to a coach who knows more about what he/she is doing.

  2. CoachingMastery

    CoachingMastery Professional

    Mar 31, 2008
    While I'm sure you have all the best intentions, you need to be careful of how you are introducing her. Simply tossing balls and having her swing with no perception of intent or swing pattern development will only emphasize usually poor swing habits that will be harder and harder to fix if she has established a poor stroke pattern. Simply aiming can be as detrimental as she won't be developing a stroke, only discovering how to angle the racquet and hit the ball hard enough to clear the net and only letting gravity bring the ball down into the court.

    There are many ways for your to identify fundamental patterns that are based on advanced stroke foundations. (Developing the simplist pattern of simply hitting balls and through attrition figuring out how high or how hard to hit will seldom lead to advanced play.) If you are not skilled at knowing stroke concepts yourself, look for web sites, books, and video clips that you can study (and that your daughter can study). You will be ever so thankful you did as she can start progressing towards her potential instead of finding out later that she developed bad habits that are difficult to break.

    I've written Coaching Mastery for parents to learn not only how to train their kids but how to motivate them and keep them excited about the game. But there are very good web sites that offer great information as well as other ideas.

    You will be well served to make your time practicing with your daughter be very effective and effiecent. Unfortunately, in my 35 years teaching, I've seen hundreds of well-intention parents ruin their kids' chances at reaching skilled levels of tennis...on top of causing their kids to tire of the sport because they simply don't get much better after a while.

    Good luck and I wish you and your daughter well!
  3. dozu

    dozu Banned

    Feb 19, 2004
    frankly speaking - it aint gonna happen.

    beginner + 6 months = still a beginner.

    usually the HS teams are made up of girls who have been well coached for 5 or more years (3 years minimum).

    time spending together is still worth it though.

    mine is 10 - had been dabbling with tennis and golf since she was 4... and we've sort of decided to focus on golf... it's A LOT of work, 10 hours/week minimum, usually more in the summer... and that's how young they need to start these days.
  4. user92626

    user92626 Legend

    Jan 27, 2008
    I was gonna say that if you understand all the techniques to show her, then what is the problem other than training? But then I remember how challenging it was for me to teach my 11 years old newphew! I simply asked him to hold a racket and bounce a ball up consistently and smoothly at least 10 times and he couldn't do it!
  5. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

    Sep 28, 2010
    Not necessarily true. It really depends on where you live.

    In the Pacific Northwest, where my daughter went to high school for two years, you could get on the freshman team if you could hold a racquet. Many of those girls worked their way up through JV and some to varsity by the time they were seniors.

    In San Diego it's different. The kids on the JV teams are better than the varsity kids up north. It's a lot harder to get on the team here. The top kids in varsity play open junior tournaments. However if you're willing to put the work in you can still get to varsity by the time you're a senior if you have some coaching.

    In both places the coaches could play and were qualified to teach. However in both places not a whole lot of teaching happened, especially in San Diego.
  6. mightyrick

    mightyrick Legend

    Aug 19, 2010
    Austin, TX
    Very true. In Hawaii, after six months, you could practically be a 4.5. :-D
  7. joeygun

    joeygun New User

    Sep 8, 2011
    Thanks for the all the feedback. The school she's attending accepts all who try out, so that's not an issue. I guess I just want to get her some experience hitting without doing serious harm in the way of bad habits. I know there are a lot of the "101 Drills" types of books out there, but it would be great to identify a few of these that would prepare her, be fun and not ingrain any serious bad habits.
  8. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

    Apr 20, 2010
    6,728 has excellent step by step videos and they are free if you provide your e-mail. They have step by step instruction for each stroke. They also have lots of pro stroke video libraries so you can see slow-mo of the pros. is also a good source of video lessons.

    But, I strongly advise a combination of private or semi-private lessons as the best way to introduce your daughter to the game. A good, reputable, licensed coach should be able to lay down a foundation.

    Books: Oscar Wegner's Learn Tennis in 2 Hours is very good for learning the basics quickly - he also has DVD that you can purchase.

    Coaching Mastery gets great reviews but I have not personally used it. is also a great source but you have to be able to sift thru the bad instruction. Brent Abel is very good on and there are other good ones too.

    Good luck and I hope your daughter develops a love for the game and has a lot of fun too.
  9. whomad15

    whomad15 Semi-Pro

    Aug 31, 2010
    footwork and stroke development matter the most right now
    set your feet (properly), turn, racquet back, swing THROUGH the ball, follow through, reset.
    tedious. yes. important. very much so.

    please for the love of god teach her how to serve with the proper grip though, if a girl has a good serve she automatically goes up a spot.
  10. A video of her hitting would be very useful
  11. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

    Jul 13, 2004
    Well, its true, it depends on the team, makeup of the team and the location. If she is a good athlete, willing to work and has the right attitude, I'd take her on one of my teams. Making the team vs being in the starting line-up can be two different things.

    First of all, get Dave Smith's "Coaching Mastery" and at least get going in the right direction if you can't get lessons from a qualified pro. You can go over many of the basics and get her started in a positive way. I've had kids show up for middle school and high school tennis who don't have a clue what to do on a tennis court.
  12. MNPlayer

    MNPlayer Semi-Pro

    Dec 9, 2008
    Minneapolis, MN
    I'm no expert on coaching but...

    When I first started taking lessons, the pro would drop feed me a lot of balls to get the strokes down. I think this a great way to learn to hit the ball, as you cannot depend on the incoming speed, and the pro can watch you carefully as opposed to from across the net.

    Keep in mind the coach of the HS tennis team may not be any better as an instructor than you are. Many HS coaches are just tennis enthusiasts like you or me.

    The ideal situation would be for your daughter to have her own coach/pro that you choose carefully based on his/her reputation and results. Even one lesson a month with a top notch pro could be worth a lot if she practices diligently. On the other hand, if you get comfortable with teaching technique and read some of the books people are recommending, I would think you could do this yourself even if you aren't a top flight player yourself. Richard Williams did ok...

    All just my relatively uninformed opinion...
  13. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

    Jun 2, 2006
    The Great NW
    As a parent of a freshman I would give you this advice. Leave the stroke instruction to a professional (assuming that she does not currently have sound strokes). Your best bet is to personally advise her on strategy. A beginner will have the most immediate success adopting a high consistancy strategy, especially if she is very athletic and quick.
  14. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Aug 31, 2006
    Dear God, yes. The world does not need another player with a frying pan grip for the serve.

    Also, I am ever grateful to the one pro who forced me to hit a 1HBH volley and FH volley with continental grip.

    Teach your daughter these things and she will cheerfully take care of you in your old age.
  15. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

    Feb 13, 2009
    Does she already have "fast feet" from playing soccer and basketball?

    Irregardless, get her moving. Don't feed all her balls right to her. Make her move at least some distance to get to the ball, and keep increasing that distance. Make sure she recovers quickly, and teach her the importance of the split step just as you are striking the ball.

    This goes for volleys as well as groundstrokes.

    Try to teach her the Serve Doctor's Simplified Spring Serve:
    It eliminates the jump, but teaches every other aspect of a good serve - coil, body in bow shape, bring that tossing arm straight over the head and hold it there. Don't be too concerned with a deep racquet drop now, or even if it goes in - get the mechanics of winding up with the body to power the serve, rather than relying just on an arm swing.

    Can she do a body squat smoothly? If not, do this exercise to learn how to coodinate letting her body weight drop down and then push up again.

    Play some games. Try to not to hit outright winners. If it is too one sided give her an edge like starting each game with her up a point, maybe giving her three serves and you just one.
  16. onehandbh

    onehandbh Legend

    Dec 19, 2005
    I would recommend that you hand feed the balls to her (from the same
    side of the court). You can probably find some video drills of people doing
    this on youtube. The reason on say this is, that this is good for footwork
    and also since it sounds like you are more or less a beginner yourself,
    chances are that you will not have very good control of your feeds and will
    not be hitting them at the appropriate pace/location consistently to her.

    If there is a wall somewhere, she can use the wall later on as well.

    Yes, probably still a beginner, but kids can learn fast and I think it could
    happen. She probably won't make varsity her first year, but maybe some
    time by her senior year. It depends on the strength of her school's
    team and the number of people trying out, but overall, high school tennis
    teams just aren't that deep. My HS team had a freakishly big team for
    some reason. (50+ tried out. Only 7 varsity and 7 JV, but they kept
    about 30+ others and let them practice doing drills on a court or two).

    Most importantly, make sure it's something she herself wants to do and not
    something YOU want her to dedicate yourself to.
  17. Nellie

    Nellie Hall of Fame

    Oct 4, 2004
    All types of feeding should make her move to the ball before contact (side to side/ front/back) for better footwork.
  18. CoachingMastery

    CoachingMastery Professional

    Mar 31, 2008
    Let me tell you a little story that pertains to the OP and others who have written here.

    In 1990, I was coaching one of the most successful high school tennis teams in the U.S. We never cut players and averaged over 40 kids on each team each season.

    This particular year, I had a freshman Vietnamese boy come out for the team who not only possessed absolutely no seemingly natural ability, he had no support from parents or friends to help him learn tennis. His number, as I recall, on my ladder was #42...out of 42 boys on that team. He literally could not drop-hit a tennis ball twice in a row.

    By his sophmore year, he was the #1 ranked doubles player in So. Calif.; he won 172 varsity doubles matches with three different partners and his only losses were in CIF, the state post season playoffs.

    Had I cut that kid, imagine what I would have lost?

    But, most important, his determination to overcome his questionable athleticism, to pursue tennis with no support at all, allowed him to become the player I just described.

    He would stay after every team practice and ask us or anyone else, to feed balls to him; he would ask about strokes and if he was starting to do them correctly.

    He moved up from that #42 spot to #1 Junior Varsity in the matter of three months of that first season.

    I've had many kids who have shown similar strides, perhaps not as impressive as this kid. I will tell you that not only is it possible for any kid to achieve greatness in tennis, but that in my experience, those who indeed achieved such greatness were seldom my most gifted athletes.

    Belief, dedication, drive, desire, discipline, and determination will often trump natural ability.

    From my 35 years teaching tennis, I would NEVER tell a kid that "He isn't good enough." In fact, I've learned that every kid has the potential for individual and team success and greatness.

    And there is no age limit either.
  19. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

    Sep 28, 2010
    In my "career" of coaching my two kids at tennis, the two biggest obstacles to improvement I have seen have been pride and success with sub-optimal technique. Being patient, waiting for and recognizing the openness to be taught, have been my biggest challenges.

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