Shouldn't we be further along in instruction?

I took a short break from tennis because quite frankly I suck at anything beyond the 2.0 level (I'm supposedly a 2.5), so I'm taking a beginner class. We've had four (hour long) classes so far and he's basically been feeding us balls and we're doing forehands and backhands. Shouldn't we have done any of the following: rallies, overheads, serves, games??? I feel like I'm wasting my time and money with this one.
 

HuusHould

Professional
Yeah I think by that stage you should've at least attempted to rally. This helps the coach gauge if he/you are on the right track as well.
As a coach, I'll normally throw in a few volleys and smashes by that point just for variety. The serve I normally cover last, but as soon as the student can sustain a decent rally from a groundstroke feed I'll incorporate the serve. There's not necessarily anything wrong with what he's doing from a skill acquisition standpoint, but as far as motivation for you as the student goes you ideally want to; 1. See how your strokes are transfering to a rally/game and 2. Have some variety in the sessions/learn new things.
 

Hit 'em clean

Semi-Pro
Four hour long lessons… especially in a group setting is hardly any instruction or time on the court as a beginner. Beginners need a lot more time focused on really basic stuff than players that have established correct strokes. Group lessons for beginners are better as introductions to the game, concepts and some basic techniques. If you really want to improve or have that four hours count... you should really do private lessons. Mix in a few group hitting/drill sessions with private lessons and you’ll advance much faster and get to serves and all the good stuff.

If you truly are a beginner… there will be a huge focus on groundstrokes to start. Serving is complicated and much more frustrating for beginners so they want you to be able to at least rally a bit probably before you start serving and trying to play a real game. If you were a beginner golfer it’d be the same… the last thing they do is give you a driver. They’ll start you out with putting, chipping and maybe hitting wedges. The different grips and movements are all new and will feel foreign so it takes time.

I understand you want to jump in and play and hit serves, but trust that you need to build some solid fundamentals first if you really want to see your game have lasting room for improvement. You’ll get there soon enough.
 

eah123

Semi-Pro
Beginner lessons vary a lot in quality. I’m really a big fan of the QuickStart system for juniors, and beginning adults can really benefit from starting with Green Dot balls, which don’t bounce as high and travel in the air slower than regular balls. The regular way of starting adults with real balls requires hitting a lot of hand fed and racquet fed balls before a beginner is good enough to rally for more than 2 shots. With green dot balls, beginners should be able to hit 4-5 shot rallies.

The technique for volleys is not difficult, it is more important to establish good ground strokes (forehands and backhands after the ball has bounced). Beginners should learn how to volley close to the net before learning to volley farther away from the net. Hopefully, the technique is introduced to you in the class.

The correct technique for overheads and serves requires a change in grip (continental grip) and swing mechanics that are more complicated than ground strokes. I think it’s completely reasonable to delay learning those strokes until your next level of classes (often billed as intermediate). Otherwise there is very high risk of developing incorrect mechanics that are very difficult to correct.

I remember how my daughter was taught (started age 8) and that was the exact progression.
 
I guess I need to be in an advanced beginner class, but I just get frustrated with those because I never know how to move properly in a game. I can serve (continental grip) and volley, even do overheads on a good day.
 

MoxMonkey

Rookie
I was/am fortunate to have found a group of guys/ladies last winter that had no problem putting up with me for weeks(months?) as I was learning to rally with any consistency. By far this has been the biggest help, putting in several hours a week with people willing to put up with me. I am far from advanced and still have a lot to work on and develop, but after a year I am now at times the 'better player' being patient with a new guy. It's good stuff.

Lessons are great. I take a lesson every few weeks or so to keep things calibrated, but it's the reps that matter. The lessons alone wouldn't do much for me.
 

Hit 'em clean

Semi-Pro
A true beginner class won’t teach you how to move... It’s very basic stuff. Lot of time on what grip to use, real basic swing patterns/thoughts, racquet face awareness, etc. Basically just getting folks comfortable with how to hold the racquet, make decent contact and get the ball over the net. If your grips are good and you are decent with contacting the ball you should be in a higher level class.
 

pencilcheck

Hall of Fame
if you think yourself is 2.0/2.5 then that means to the external viewer (your coach) you are literally just started. Meaning he wouldn't trust you to be able to rally consistently and safely. I would think the reason he is doing it is simply to teach concepts and doing one step at a time.

This happens in anything, a lot of people think they can take more and quicker but most of the time, they can't.

If you are curious, you should ask your coach what is it that he want you to learn, is it timing? is it the general sense of foot placement? is it the use of force? There are usually many things your coach want you to learn but there has to be a main theme or a core concept that you should be grasping before moving on. Identify that first.

If you think you can rally, why not you try to do that outside your lesson or ask your coach for him to evaluate if you are already grasping the concept he want to teach you so you can already move forward.

Demonstrate to him that you are capable, then he will definitely happy to move on. If you can't, then probably best to listen to your coach (or switch coaches if you want)
 
if you think yourself is 2.0/2.5 then that means to the external viewer (your coach) you are literally just started. Meaning he wouldn't trust you to be able to rally consistently and safely. I would think the reason he is doing it is simply to teach concepts and doing one step at a time.

This happens in anything, a lot of people think they can take more and quicker but most of the time, they can't.

If you are curious, you should ask your coach what is it that he want you to learn, is it timing? is it the general sense of foot placement? is it the use of force? There are usually many things your coach want you to learn but there has to be a main theme or a core concept that you should be grasping before moving on. Identify that first.

If you think you can rally, why not you try to do that outside your lesson or ask your coach for him to evaluate if you are already grasping the concept he want to teach you so you can already move forward.

Demonstrate to him that you are capable, then he will definitely happy to move on. If you can't, then probably best to listen to your coach (or switch coaches if you want)
He often uses me to model proper technique for the other students. I guess I need to push myself in a higher level class.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
Yeah I think by that stage you should've at least attempted to rally. This helps the coach gauge if he/you are on the right track as well.
As a coach, I'll normally throw in a few volleys and smashes by that point just for variety. The serve I normally cover last, but as soon as the student can sustain a decent rally from a groundstroke feed I'll incorporate the serve. There's not necessarily anything wrong with what he's doing from a skill acquisition standpoint, but as far as motivation for you as the student goes you ideally want to; 1. See how your strokes are transfering to a rally/game and 2. Have some variety in the sessions/learn new things.
Is this supposed to be a serious response? After 4 hours at a novice level and you are throwing smashes at volleys at them? Don't think so. Perhaps for low intermediate (3.0) students. But not for 1.0 to 2.0 novices. If the OP is at a higher level than this, then he is in the wrong class

Unless they are coming from another sport, at a decent level, most novice students (2.0 and lower) are still dealing with issues of hand-eye coordination and proper stroke mechanics
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
Need good setup and timing. Right now what you are doing is developing and setting your strokes. Keep at it.
This is the best reply I've read in this thread so far. (Disclaimer: I really only looked at the first 5 posts & spot-read a couple others)

I took a short break from tennis because quite frankly I suck at anything beyond the 2.0 level (I'm supposedly a 2.5), so I'm taking a beginner class. We've had four (hour long) classes so far and he's basically been feeding us balls and we're doing forehands and backhands. Shouldn't we have done any of the following: rallies, overheads, serves, games??? I feel like I'm wasting my time and money with this one.
Sounds like you are in the wrong class if you are really expecting all those things after only 4 hours of a novice class. You probably should be in an advanced beginner class (or a low intermediate class if that is not available)
 
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SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
She is (I am) in the wrong class. I'm struggling with the 2.5 match play though.
Sorry about that.

You might consider taking a mix of private (1-on-1) and small group (adv beginner) classes.

With novice players (2 .0 and lower), players are rarely ready to rally with each other. Even with private lessons. They might be able to engage in easy controlled rallies with a coach -- but not usually with each other.

Even at 2.5, most players are still dealing with proper stroke mechanics. (Some are also dealing with hand-eye coordination). Rallying with others that are at a 2.0 to 2.5 level tends to reinforce bad habits. Hand feeds or easy racket feeds from a coach are probably what you need at your stage of development

Even at 3.0 & 3.5 (low intermediate) levels, players are often dealing with stroke mechanics issues. Many of those players are also reinforcing bad habits if they are rallying before they have developed proper strokes
 
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SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
These 2 videos show reasonable expectations of 2.5 players. Slight diff in expectations for male & female players -- (but you probably won't see a lot of diff until after the 3.5 level).

Hopefully you'll see how you compare to these two videos and what sort of things you might need to work on


 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
Something to shoot for:

For sake of comparison, this is what 4.0 and 4.5 female players will typically look like. In addition to much better groundstroke mechanics, they will also have better footwork skills and much better serves, volleys & overheads. (Males at those levels will typically be doing the same things at faster racket / ball speeds. Mechanics are typically a little bit different as well).


 

HuusHould

Professional
Is this supposed to be a serious response? After 4 hours at a novice level and you are throwing smashes at volleys at them? Don't think so. Perhaps for low intermediate (3.0) students. But not for 1.0 to 2.0 novices. If the OP is at a higher level than this, then he is in the wrong class
Not really familiar with the Yankee rating system. Smashes you may have a point, but volleys are easier than groundstrokes. I have beginner 7 year olds that can hit a decent smash if you put the ball in the right spot for them anyway.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
Not really familiar with the Yankee rating system. Smashes you may have a point, but volleys are easier than groundstrokes. I have beginner 7 year olds that can hit a decent smash if you put the ball in the right spot for them anyway.
Over here, novice players are generally 1.0 up to 2.0 players. While rudimentary volleys might be easier to learn, Fh & Bh groundstrokes are more bread and butter shots that players need to learn. So we generally start with those shots rather than volleys.

But we are developing pre-volley skills at the very beginning with UPs & DOWNs -- dribbling skills to develop hand-eye coordination. These dribbling skills will evolve later to upward dribbling with a partner. Later, these are employed to develop the volley

Usually, after 3 or 4 hours of lessons, I will start teaching novice players (& low int players) proper ball tossing with the non-dominant arm. Novice & low int players struggle with the serve, in large part, because they cannot give themselves a decent toss.

In addition to the tossing skill, we will also work with overhand throwing motions with the dominant arm. First, proper technique and then throwing for distance (45° launch angle). After that, we throw upward at steeper angles, like 60° to 75°, to more closely resemble the racket throwing motion. In addition to throwing balls, we will often go out to a large grassy area and throw old tennis rackets.

We stay away from "pancake" (WTE) serving with a panhandle grip from the start. Instead, after the tossing skill and overhand throwing skill has been developed, we will start working with spin serves using a continental grip or a semi-continental (Aussie) grip. Flatter serves will come later

Here is what a 2.0 female typically looks like. This is, more or less, at the top end of the novice range:

 
Over here, novice players are generally 1.0 up to 2.0 players. While rudimentary volleys might be easier to learn, Fh & Bh groundstrokes are more bread and butter shots that players need to learn. So we generally start with those shots rather than volleys.

But we are developing pre-volley skills at the very beginning with UPs & DOWNs -- dribbling skills to develop hand-eye coordination. These dribbling skills will evolve later to upward dribbling with a partner. Later, these are employed to develop the volley

Usually, after 3 or 4 hours of lessons, I will start teaching novice players (& low int players) proper ball tossing with the non-dominant arm. Novice & low int players struggle with the serve, in large part, because they cannot give themselves a decent toss.

In addition to the tossing skill, we will also work with overhand throwing motions with the dominant arm. First, proper technique and then throwing for distance (45° launch angle). After that, we throw upward at steeper angles, like 60° to 75°, to more closely resemble the racket throwing motion. In addition to throwing balls, we will often go out to a large grassy area and throw old tennis rackets.

We stay away from "pancake" (WTE) serving with a panhandle grip from the start. Instead, after the tossing skill and overhand throwing skill has been developed, we will start working with spin serves using a continental grip or a semi-continental (Aussie) grip. Flatter serves will come later

Here is what a 2.0 female typically looks like. This is, more or less, at the top end of the novice range:

My problem is placement, strategy. I can serve better than some 2.5s or 3.0s who rely on the pancake serve, but they know how to place the ball, they know when are where to move. I'm like a deer caught in headlights. I don't slice, either. Slicing seems to be a big showoff/bragging point in my parts.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
My problem is placement, strategy. I can serve better than some 2.5s or 3.0s who rely on the pancake serve, but they know how to place the ball, they know when are where to move. I'm like a deer caught in headlights. I don't slice, either. Slicing seems to be a big showoff/bragging point in my parts.
Placement comes down to visualizing where you want to hit the ball rather than looking where you want to hit the ball. You do not want to look up where you intend to hit the ball. Imagine, in your mind's eye, where you want that ball to be placed. But track the incoming ball until it gets close to you (within a meter or two). And then keep your head still during your contact phase as you fix your gaze on your expected contact point or at a point in space a couple of feet forward of that contact point. So you should be doing this for the last part of your forward swing before contact.

Do not look up early to follow the ball, to watch your opponent or to look at the space where you intend to hit the ball -- until after you hear the ball contact your stringbed. You do not need to see the outgoing ball much before it crosses the net. If you are trying to see the ball 6 meters (20 ft) before it reaches the net, there is a good chance that you are looking up too early and might be throwing off your swing. Moving your head too early can sabotage your swing and prevent you from hitting the ball where you would like to place it. The more that you practice this visualization and trust the visualization, the better your brain will be at controlling your shot to get the ball where you want it to go
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
My problem is placement, strategy. I can serve better than some 2.5s or 3.0s who rely on the pancake serve, but they know how to place the ball, they know when are where to move. I'm like a deer caught in headlights. I don't slice, either. Slicing seems to be a big showoff/bragging point in my parts.
Do you know about tennis geometry? Where to move, after you have hit the ball, based on where your shot is going? You want to bisect the angle of likely returns from your opponent.

If you are near the baseline, while playing singles, and hit the ball to the middle (third) of your opponents court -- that is, more or less toward the midline or center mark of their court -- then you should be recovering to the middle of your own (since that is the middle of likely or possible returns).

However, if you hit the ball more towards one of the corners of your opponents court, then your optimal recovery position will likely be a meter or so away from your own center mark (assuming you are somewhere near the baseline and not at the net or near the the T in the middle of the court).

So if you hit the ball cross court, you will probably not need to move very far to be in an ideal position. However, if you hit the ball more down the line to the other corner, your optimal recovery position will be much further -- it may be a meter or more past the center mark on the baseline. But there is a good chance that you will not actually have time to reach that optimal recovery position after hitting a DTL shot. So, it is better to hit most shots Cross Court until you get a good opportunity to hit an effective shot DTL
 
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SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
More on tennis at geometry and preferred recovery positions. Note where Roger (and Lleyton) recover to after hitting their cross court shots. All the shots at the beginning of this video are cross court. Roger does not recover to the middle (center mark) until one has his shots goes to the middle of Lleyton's court. Some time later, we see Roger recovering past the center mark -- after he has hit a shot toward Lleyton's forehand corner (left side of the screen)

 
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