Principles of Teaching & Learning Part 1 of 4

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

This months blog series aims to help level 1 and 2 tennis coaches have a greater understanding of how players learn, and how this should influence coaching behaviour .

Week 1
Creating a positive learning environment.
How players learn a new skill
Week 2
Stages of learning and coaching behaviour at each stage
Week 3
Importance of communication to include demonstrations and feedback
Week 4
Lesson planning and setting up effective and appropriate tasks

So lets get going…

Creating a learning environment

For learning to take place there must be an appropriate and effective environment for this to happen. With children if they become over excited, they lose concentration and direction. If you play mindless chasing games that have little relevance to tennis then children have that expectation of a tennis lesson…. Fun but no purpose, with too much emphasis on the fun aspect. It is always worth remembering FUN is the tool we use, it is not the objective of a lesson. The objective is to help players improve their ability to play the game enabling them to experience a life long enjoyment and involvement.

If you set tasks that make players have to think they will then realise the lessons demand some thought. Reverse shadow is a good example of a thought provoking task.

Reverse Shadow Demo 1


Reverse Shadow Demo 2

It is vital the coach sets high standards of behaviour and is in complete control of the players.

At mini tennis level set a listening line on the court where children assemble without talking to receive feedback or instruction.

Have a command word which will ensure the players respond to stopping or rotating. Without discipline learning will not take place. Children feel secure with boundaries do not be afraid to set them.


How players learn a new skill

We all learn in a combination of ways but in a sport like tennis there are three main ways we learn and we all have one preferred way of receiving information.

By being told something


By seeing something


By doing / feeling something


Most children learn by seeing and copying, they learn least by being told something.

So two key points to remember:

1. demo lots and don’t talk too much

2. allow players to shadow shots and practice enough times to experience the shape or feel of a shot.

For learning to take place a player has to retain the information

Tell someone – They retain 10%

Show them – They retain 20%

Show and Tell – They retain 40%

So always remember that the aim for any coach is to understand how your pupils best learn and adapt your coaching accordingly.

In next week’s post we will discuss the stages of learning and the desired coaching behaviour at each stage.

See you next week!

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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