Instruction, coaching, and lesson taking are factors that should not be taken on a whim. I can’t stress enough the need to plan out each step of your instructional method. Lessons are the cornerstone to improvement in tennis.
There is no question that without the help of a qualified professional, your game will only improve to the limits of your athletic ability. However, with the help of a qualified and certified professional, your game has the opportunity to reach your potential and beyond. Yet lessons don’t seem to work for many students. The question is: “Why don’t lessons work?” The answer is quite simple: It’s the pros fault – at least in the mind in the mind of the student. The other answer is that it’s the student’s fault – at least in the mind of the instructor. The real answer to why lessons don’t work is the lack of communication and planning between the instructor and the student. The student and pro must first define what should be the outcome of the lesson that day. This is only accomplished by the pro and student communicating before the beginning of the lesson. The first priority is establishing a clear understanding of the objectives and goals of the lesson. All to often, the student expresses a desire to improve but is not open to change. The lesson plan should begin by communicating with the instructor because it is the essential key to the success of the lesson. When the instructor does not understand the student’s desired objective for the lesson, it is likely that the student’s desired outcome will not be met. Every lesson plan should have a theme and a goal that is attainable that day or is attainable down the road.
The importance of instruction is necessary even for world-class players. Improving is a learning process. Taking lessons is especially important to beginners because tennis is an acquired skill, and not an instinctive one. Even for players who have honed in most of the basic skills to a better than intermediate level, there is still a need for instruction to get to the advanced levels of play. It’s easy for a players performance level to become flat or stagnated, and a little instruction can bring the enjoyment of playing tennis at a competitive level to a more fulfilling plateau.
There are three basic methods of lesson taking that are directly related to lesson plans. I will try to advise you on each of them below and on the following page:
1) Group Clinics - If you are an absolute beginner, my advice is to take a group lesson first. There, you will be able to interact with others while learning. Remember, you’ll be in a group with others at your skill level, so there’s no reason to be embarrassed when attempting to do something you’ve never done before. Others will be making the same mistakes. You will be able to laugh and enjoy yourself during the first stages of the learning process. The group lessons work best with no more than four or five students. This gives everyone a chance to hit, even when the pro is working with an individual. When the pro is working with one of the other students, pay attention, you can often learn from other people’s mistakes.
2) Tennis Camps - When you think of tennis camps, you usually think of juniors going away for a week or two during the summer months. There are also camps for adults being given in all types of scenarios. These camps could be part of a vacation, or an event at a business social. Tennis camps are offered on all skill levels during any season of the year. Although tennis camps are run to teach tennis, it is also the pros responsibility to see that everyone has a good time while learning many of the basics in tennis. Usually, students will spend several hours on the court each day, so be prepared for anything, especially the hot sun.
3) Individual Lessons - The time to take private lessons is after you’ve had some exposure to the game. This way you won’t feel like the spotlight is on you. Sometimes it can be a little overwhelming when you are getting a lot of personal attention. A good pro should have enough skill to make you feel comfortable under any circumstances. When choosing a pro to teach you, I recommend you find one that is certified with one of the major tennis teachers associations. The Professional Tennis Registry (PTR) and the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) are the largest and best organizations in the world. You’ll have no trouble finding the right instructor for you.
Have you ever taken lessons and never really got anything out of it. Even if you went to a certified pro, there could be many reasons why your lessons didn’t take. For example: too much time was spent talking instead executing the stroke; you didn’t practice after the lesson; you wanted to change to many too many strokes at once; the pro wasn’t qualified; and these are just a few. Below I have listed some plans for lesson taking that will work for you.
You should consider each of these tips before your lesson:
1) Be sure the pro is certified with the Professional Tennis Registry (PTR)
or the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA).
2) Have a lesson plan before you walk onto the court.
3) Work only on one or two strokes per lesson.
4) Communicate with the instructor before hand.
5) Be open minded enough to try new things.
6) Practice the new technique after the lesson frequently.
7) Don’t be afraid to take lessons from more than one pro.
8) Remember, this is supposed to be fun. Try to have a good time while
Steven has authored the following books...
Teaching Tennis : Protocol for Instructors www.wishpublishing.com/teaching_tennis.htm
Bring Your Racquet: Tennis Basics for Kids www.kirkhouse.com/books/bring-your-racquet