A recent email that I received from a tennis coach motivated me to share my “secret” lesson plan formula.
I’ve always considered that a good tennis coach should first understand their students (their motivation behind learning tennis) before actually teaching them. Only after that can a coach tailor the lesson plans according to their student’s needs.
Read below the email that inspired me to write and share my “formula”:
“Many of my younger (8-11yrs old) beginner students are not willing to follow some of my instructions. They seem to be more interested in fun and games than learning the correct strokes; how can I encourage them to be a little more serious about the game?? (Jim)”
It is normal for beginners (especially at ages 8-11) to be looking more for fun games than instructions; after all, the technical part is boring for them, the stroke repetition is not that… fun. Therefore, a tennis coach should prepare lesson plans that combine both the technical knowledge and fun to keep the kids interested in their tennis lessons.
Below I would like to share my lesson plan formula that has proven to be very successful for many years in attracting and helping kids, as well as adults, to enjoy tennis and continue returning to my classes:
Step 1 (10 minutes)
Always be first to greet and welcome your students, with a big smile on your face. Show them you are happy to be their coach.
I then begin the lesson with a warm-up: jog, carioca, side shuffles, maybe a fun warm-up game such as “Caterpillar”, “Toss-Catch-Shuffle”, or “Royal Court”.
Step 2 (15 minutes)
I then follow with 15 minutes of technique practice (we begin with shadow strokes then I feed from the basket while we do all kinds of technique drills: three along the line, basket drills, etc.). I do the technique in the beginning because their attention span is still fresh and they are not yet tired.
Step 3 (5 minutes)
I give them a 5-minute break to pick up the balls and get some water.
Step 4 (10 minutes)
We continue with rally games – even if they are beginners you can add in some fun rally games such as “Kings and Challengers”, “In and Out” or any others that they like.
Step 5 (10 minutes)
More technique practice (serve, volley, etc.).
Step 6 (10 minutes)
The end of the lesson is always dedicated to footwork drills or games such as: “Around the World”, “Potato Race”, or any relay race that gets everybody active and cheering for others (it is great if you can finish your class with all the players tired, loud, and… happy).
So this is my tennis lesson plan formula. Kids do need a good balance of technique and fun games to stay interested and focused.
Once they begin playing tournaments, they will understand the importance of learning and practicing the technical and tactical aspects. That’s why you should encourage your students to enter competitions early into their development, not only to see other kids playing but for them to understand the reason behind practicing those technical skills.
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