Fundamentals of a Hotshots lesson
This is for our coaching team at Scarborough Tennis Academy. Mostly they know these already but important to re-enforce the non negotiables so that we as a coaching team, are consistent in our approach.
- TEACH TECHNIQUE- Always have a clear lesson focus with technical instruction. It should be clear and obvious what the ‘focus’ of the lesson is. You are trusted to improve the player and are accountable to the player and their parents (and the academy/club). I worry that sometimes coaches are playing games but not actually ‘teaching’ them the technical skills. The technical focus should be clearly communicated to players.
- PLAY – Always get them rallying against each other in king of court type games. You can still have a technical focus within these rally games. Teach them how points and games work in tennis (15/30/40 game) and constantly be playing ‘real rallies’ where they either compete or just rotate around every point or two. While they are doing this, you as the coach should be rotating around the court to view players from different angles.
- TEACH RECEIVING – Any time a rally happens make sure all players start in their ready position (strong legs and ready racquet) – they should never start a rally with their racquet by their side. This is the most simple fundamental of receiving the ball and every rally that happens during the lesson, it needs to be re-enforced. Before your player starts their serve or donkey drop, encourage them to check that their fellow players are ready.
- PER COURT RATIO – Our promise in Hotshots is 4 per class or in green ball we do 6 per class but only if there is 2 courts so we can keep the 4 per court ratio. Same for squads with the exception of a round the world game or similar. So make sure they are spread out with four per court which can then easily lead to partner activities and real rallies. By keeping only 4 kids per court, this raises the quality of the session where players are not all crammed onto a court but spread out like proper tennis players.
- INDEPENDENT players – Teach them how to start their forehand, backhand, volley and serve. This way instead of a coach feeding to one player at a time, the players are all engaged and active. They should be able to take their racquet and ball anywhere and be able to play a tennis shot (forehand, backhand, serve or volley). Show them ways they can practice by themselves. In the backyard, at the park, on holidays or at the tennis club. Always ask yourself whether your coach feed is something that they can be doing themselves.
- 50% ACTIVE at all times – Always make sure that 50% of the players are engaged and active rather than waiting in lines (either horizontal or vertical). We want them active and practicing their sending and receiving skills. Where some coach feeding can be great, we don’t want them to rely on the coaches feed to play tennis. Be creative in ways to keep them engaged. This can be the four square type rallies but also can involve shadow swinging, catching, throwing and movement patterns.
- DISCIPLINE AND CLASS MANAGEMENT – If kids are mucking about, assertively tell them that it’s not acceptable in a tennis class. Sit them out of an activity if you need to. Outline the expectations from the start and know that many times the kid may be just looking for attention (negative or positive). If you keep your lesson engaging and fast paced this will alleviate most mis-behaviour. You should be assertive but in control of your emotions. If a child hurts themselves or doesn’t feel well, try and give them a quick burst of attention to make sure they are ok (even if they are over reacting) and tell them to have a drink break and join in again when ready. Make sure your other players stay busy while you are giving this burst of attention.
- PROFESSIONALISM – Ensure you are 5 min early (ideally 10-15) before your first lesson and that your first activity is already set up. Arriving early gives you time to make sure you can organise your tennis balls, teaching aids and other equipment as well as reviewing your class lists. Unless there is a ball shortage, you should never need to go back to get more balls/equipment between lessons. Make sure you start each lesson on time to ensure players are getting maximum value. Every minute of your time is being paid for from our clients so its important to show respect to our clients by always being prompt. Make sure you keep a perfect attendance record on the intennis app and stay up to date with your wheniwork schedule.
- BALLS AND COURT – Make sure your using correct balls for the class. The colour ball is shown on your wheniwork schedule and ensure that you are playing 1/2 court for red ballers and 3/4 court for orange ballers. Using the wrong balls can stunt the players development with high bounces among problems that can occur when the ball is not suitable to their stage. Remember on the busiest days you may need to either spread your bucket of balls with fellow coaches and sometimes one coach may need balls but not till later so that coach can deliver them to the next coach. Work together on solutions.
- PACKING AWAY- Make sure buckets are perfectly sorted (no mixed balls) and placed back in the right section in the coaches shed. Make sure yellow balls are neatly set back up in pro shop and there are no coloured balls or flat balls left in the yellow baskets. Other ball buckets, trolleys and hoppers need to be put away in shed and any coach equipment put back in its original place. Also make sure no balls, cones, cheese sticks etc are left on-court as well as ensuring no rubbish or left drink bottles/clothes are left behind on your court.