Principles of Teaching & Learning Part 4 of 4

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Principles of Teaching & Learning

In this months blog series we have been focusing on aiding LTA Level 1 and 2 Tennis Coaches to gain a greater understanding of how players learn, and how this should influence their own coaching behaviour. In the final post in the series we concentrate on lesson planning.

Planning a lesson

You cannot underestimate the importance of lesson planning. All the previous information we have imparted in this series of posts so far cannot help a player if the coach chooses the wrong area to work on.  So how does a coach decide what to do?

Assessment and evaluation are key

Look and observe the players in relation to the 5 main playing situations

  • Serving
  • Returning at the back of the court
  • Returning moving forward
  • Volleying
  • Opponent moving forward to volley.

Consider these points in each instance

  • What can they do in relation to the tactics of each situation ?
  • Can they get the ball over and in and TRADE with an opponent when rallying ?
  • Can they move their opponent and BUILD  a point to create an opportunity to win and FINISH the point.
  • Can they recover when they have been moved into a defensive position and NEUTRALISE their opponents advantage ?
  • Can they STAY in the point or even TURN the POINT AROUND ?

However…

Everything depends upon the age and stage of the player. It would be totally inappropriate to choose to teach a six year old group of girls a lob volley even though it is something they cannot do.

Decide not only what they cannot do but what is going to make them better tennis players most quickly. For example with mini tennis specifically serving, returning and rallying are essential skills to teach.

Logical progression

Having established the playing situation eg both back rallying, once they can simply trade, you then expand the tactical intention to hitting into space to move the opponent and build the point. This means the lessons progress logically with post lesson evaluation confirming the direction of the future lessons.

Having  set the big picture tactically how are the players going execute an improvement technically ? Tactic WHAT to do Technique HOW to do it.

Assessment and observation brings analytical diagnosis and the selection of one key teaching point.
  • We cannot overload with information the learner so limit it to one key point which is demonstrated.
  • Its vital that reinforcement is obtained from any demonstrations, refer to that point repeatedly until the end of the lesson.

Feeding

Feeding is a very important coaching skill. Knowing how to feed at each stage affects the rate and effectiveness of learning.

In a lesson with beginners at the cognitive stage a coach should make it as easy as possible for the player to achieve success with a more repetitive feed. If young players feed each other at times and the feeds are not very good remember tennis is an open skill game, we never hit the same ball twice so it is good practice for them.

However it is important to work on young players feeding skills and this can be done through warm up / ABC activities.

As players pass through the associative and autonomous stage the feeding becomes more game related. Like demos the feeding position should reflect the shot/s being worked on. The speed and rate of feeding should help the players develop their skills.

The 3 stages of feeding

Stage 1

Easy, slow feeds in short blocks with time to think, building up the picture, feel and pattern of the stroke.

Stage 2

Game related with a varied feed to learn the different ball characteristics and see how the skill stands up under pressure.

Stage 3

Game related varied feeding which is challenging, maintaining skill level and identifying small errors.

We started the blog thinking about the importance of task selection and that is where we end…

  • Tasks must be relevant to the age and stage of the players
  • Tasks must be linked to the key teaching area
  • Tasks must allow the teaching point to be practised
  • Tasks must be challenging but realistic for the players
  • Tasks must have relevance to players TENNIS development
  • Tasks must be enjoyable and purposeful

Ultimately, the satisfaction of coaching is seeing players improve! And our sole aim at UCoach is to help you and all the other coaches that learn with us to do this. 

Over the past 4 weeks we have touched on what we at UCoach consider to be the major principles of teaching and learning. Obviously the subject is much wider and we will touch on more aspects of this over time, but we hope this blog in some way will reinforce some key points with you and in turn help you to help your players reach their maximum potential on the tennis court.

See you again next time!

Jenny Thomas & Liz Jones, Directors of UCoach

Do you have any experience you want to share with others on this subject? Remember if you go away and put some of these things into action we would love to hear how it goes or any problems you encounter so feel free to comment below and join in the discussion.

Series Navigation<< Principles of Teaching & Learning Part 3 of 4

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