The Art of Teaching 6 Strokes
Tennis has only 6 strokes…….
Serve, forehand, backhand, volley forehand, volley backhand and overhead smash. Using those 6 methods of hitting a tennis ball you learn different ways to hit these strokes. These include which way the ball moves such as using topspin, backspin and sidespin.
2 or 3 Ball Shapes
Then you choose which ball shapes you are using (in relation to the net and court) using ‘rainbows’ as we say at Scarborough Tennis Academy (higher balls with a rainbow shape), and ‘laserbeams’ (lower balls with a laserbeam shape). Drop shots and floating slice have their own distinctive ‘ramp’ type shape.
6 Court Zones
You then learn that you can hit to the corners, angles, drop shots and to the middle of the court. These are the 6 potential areas the ball will go. There are 2 corners, 2 angles, the middle and a drop shot zone.
Learning to Play
There are a hundred ways to help these shots. Some come through verbal explanation (auditory) or grasping a concept through video or example (visual) or discovery through learning the ‘feel’ of the shot (kinesthetic).
However, the true learning and growth of both the student and the coach comes when this process of learning 6 shots is wrapped up in a holistic development of the player. A successful coach will do more than just teach 6 strokes.
As coaches we have the honour to be able to help kids and even adults with their tennis and in turn, their life skills. Our role is that of confidant, mentor, physical trainer, psychologist, nutritionist, motivator, disciplinarian and trusted expert and friend.
This is what makes being a tennis coach not just a science but also an art. The art is in how you push your students, along with when it’s time to hold back. The art is teaching them how to be responsible for themselves and to goal set, think constructively and enjoy the process of learning and development. The art is how to be a good winner, not just a winner and how to see mistakes as feedback. The art is to use the best training methods and make the process exciting, fun and gratifying. If you can empower your student to become self-motivated about their own journey, the 6 shots will soon flourish.
Rick Willsmore – Linkedin.