Tag Archives: Feedback

Principles of Teaching & Learning Part 3 of 4

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Principles of Teaching & Learning

In this months blog series we focus 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 .

Importance of communication, demos and feedback


A coach can be very knowledgable about tennis but unless they can communicate effectively that knowledge is wasted.
We know that the majority learn not through being told something so the words we use must be carefully measured. We also know that How we say those words conveys more than the words themselves.
  1. Keep instruction to a minimum, don’t waffle.
  2. Tell players what they need to know at the moment they need to know it, not for the whole lesson.
  3. Use appropriate language that is easily understood
  4. Ensure a group can all hear you, never start talking until you can make eye contact with them all.
  5. Vary your tone and intonation to provide motivation
  6. Avoid generalities and repetitive phases ‘ unlucky ‘ ‘ great ‘ ‘ok’
  7. Consider your body language it conveys more than verbal communication.
  8. Move with purpose, use open gestures, don’t cuddle your racket it gives a closed message.
  9. SMILE it relaxes you and your pupils.
  10. Actively listen
  11. Use question and answer pit stops to check understanding and involve the players in their learning.
  12. Consider at all times the preferred way of learning of your pupils. For instance, is your pupil a kinaesthetic learner? if so get them to consider how the last shot felt.
  13. Consider at all times the stage of learning of your pupil, for autonomous learners ask them what went wrong with the last shot.


  • a key teaching tool to help players understand what they are doing and what they need to do.
  • information received by the learner during and after attempts at a technical movement or an action within the game.
  • To benefit from feedback the information must be accurate.
  • Do not overload the player, restrict the feedback to information around the one main teaching point.
  • It is a two way process and as a player develops it changes, to recap.
  • must be specific. Shouting ‘good shot’ is obviously praise, but you need to expand and let them know what was good about it!
Depending on the players stage of learning depends on the origin of the feedback…
Stage 1 – Feedback almost entirely from the coach to the player
Stage 2 – Feedback from both the player and the coach
Stage 3 – Feedback almost entirely from the player
Whatever stage the player is at the feedback must be accurate and conveyed with
sincerity. If you say that was a great shot regularly with a bored tone your player will not believe you or understand when they really hit a great shot !

When to give feedback?

When to give feedback depends upon the experience level of the player, it may be after several attempts or after a particularly good/ bad shot. Feedback can be positive or negative, and you should now understand what influence the stage of learning has on this.
Feedback can be based on performance or outcome, girls learn more by performance
feedback, boys by outcome.


Children learn by seeing and copying so perhaps the most powerful learning tool at mini tennis level is the visual picture created by a good demo.

How to execute an excellent demo…

Step 1:

Ensure the players are in the best position to see you, are they able to see your racket ?  can you talk to them as you show them.? We know this is the way they will retain information best of

Step 2:

Give  them clear instruction as to what you want them to watch. It may be the whole shot, part of it, it may not be the outcome of where the ball goes.

Step 3:

Check for understanding use Q and A . Ask them to SHOW you what they have seen ( kinaesthetic learners)

Step 4:

Choose to demo from the  part of the court from where the shot would be played from in a match. Eg Volley demo at the net

Step 5:

Be accurate in what you show remember it is not your serve you show, but what you want them to do.

Step 6:

Do the demo 3 times minimum.

Step 7:

Dont forget about left handers, do you have any in your group? have they seen it from their perspective?

Step 8:

If you have used a player to help you with the demo change the helper so all players get to see the demo.

Step 9:

Perform the demo multiple times to reinforce the key teaching points

Step 10:

In a group lesson its ok to do an individual demo for some players as you move around the court.

Step 11:

Consider using a peer demo but think carefully about a negative demo, it can be confusing. Always better to know what to do rather than what not to do !
And finally…
Take your time over the demonstrations you do, they are so important, if it goes wrong don’t be afraid to tell your group and then do it again!


In next week’s final post in this series we consider lesson planning and setting up effective and appropriate tasks.

See you next week!

Jenny Thomas, Director 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.