WHY WON’T SHE DO WHAT I TELL HER ON THE TENNIS COURT?

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Brian Lutz / September 13, 2020

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He was fed up.

How many times does he have to tell her the same drill over and over again and she always gets it’s wrong?

I used to run tennis programs in the Big Apple. Large group lesson programs for adults. They were events more than lessons. We would amass 16 players onto two courts. Sometimes as much as 20.

We were teaching novice level at an indoor gymnasium on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. It was a typical Sunday session at the courts located beneath the subway on the Lexington line.

You could take an elevator or escalator or the stairwell depending on your mood and sense of direction. But these courts without a doubt where the lowest in the city. I’m speaking literally. Like under ground tennis.

This was kind of ironic because we also used a one court facility that was on the 44th floor of a hotel in Midtown. So we had tennis covered from top to botton in the big apple.

During the middle of one session one of my coaches had become exasperated. I could tell his frustration was boiling over. It was a full house and we had a lot of players.

All it takes is one player that doesn’t really understand the drill and it can bog down the entire lesson plan. So when I do my on court explanations as I demonstrate the drill we are going to do I typically do it in the major learning modes: visual, auditory and kinesthetic. This way no one is left scratching their head.

In fact, in the training manual for our coaches we go over this process because it’s so vital to running large groups. It’s good to use each mode as much as your can since a lot of tennis students have combinations of each learning style.

As I approached the coach he explained the situation to me and I said I think you are “telling” her what to do but I might imagine she is a visual learner.

Apparently, the student was always out of position and never ready to play when it was her turn for no fault of her own. To her it became complicated algebra exercise because she didn’t understand the auditory directions. But once it was visually explained. Bingo! She was now running at optimum speed.

Note: a lot of tennis instruction has arbitrary terminology that is undecipherable for the novice tennis player. So coaches will throw around terms like: continental grip, reverse forehand, inside out, split stop etc. Naturally, neophyte tennis players have no idea what you are talking about.

This makes is very important to visually demonstrate as well as explaining things in plain every day English.

It was fun to collaborate with the coach because soon as I mentioned this he jumped into action realizing his mistake.

Lastly, we are all kinesthetic learners on some level even if it isn’t the predominant learning style for you but we all need to feel and experience the “aha moment” to learn how to play tennis.

It’s really the best part of playing tennis. It’s a blend of efficiency and timing that make tennis so effortless when you have the right technique of finding yourself hitting the ball directly into the sweet spot.

Next time you are taking a tennis lesson try to notice. What type of learner categories you might fall into. It can really help you and your instructor.

Feeling the sweet spot.