Perfect Tennis Technique or Games-Based Approach?

kids practicing tennis
I was recently asked about my preferred teaching style: do I strive for the “perfect” technique or do I let my students learn tennis through games (lately there have been more and more tennis coaches who embrace the games-based approach). 

The answer is simple: tennis should be fun regardless of the level of performance.

I do like to stress the proper technique at the beginning of the lesson just to start with the right fundamentals, but I want to make sure that at least 60% of my lessons are actually exciting for my students by introducing games and drills that have them work on placement, friendly competition, and strategies. 

In my teaching career, I’ve often paid attention to the faces of my students: when they are put through the repetitive drills of learning the “perfect” technique and when they are presented with the opportunity of playing tennis games

The difference between the two is enormous; and here is why: 

1. When a coach stresses the technique most of the time, the students might end up “looking great” on the court, but deep down in the back of their minds they will consider tennis boring and repetitive. 

2. The games-based approach gets players thrilled to be on the court and, even though their technique will not be as good in the beginning, the fact that they enjoy playing tennis will make them do this longer and not only that… they’ll encourage their friends to get involved into it because people want to share things they love.

I’m not advocating that technique should be eliminated from the tennis practice – just not over-emphasized.

My suggestion would be that a player/student should practice their technical elements at the beginning of the lesson (let’s say for about 15 – 20 minutes) but then they should be exposed to applying the learned fundamentals into a fun-related tennis activity.

Keep tennis practice fun and exciting. You’ll play tennis longer and live healthier.

Cosmin Miholca

Cosmin Miholca

Certified Tennis Coach

Check out my work at WebTennis24 where I share with you my best video tennis lessons, drills and tips for players, coaches and tennis parents.

How to Enforce Proper Tennis Technique

teaching proper tennis technique
I was recently asked: “How can I get my students to stick with the technique I teach them and not poke at the ball once they begin playing games?”

This is a very good question because I remember doing this as a kid only for the sake of winning a match. In my attempt to not miss I would just “push” the balls over the net.

The upside was that I was winning matches playing this way… in the beginning.

The downside? Well, this kind of play does not lead to real progress in the long term.

Poking the ball will annoy your opponents first but they will soon figure you out and make you work hard for the points.

The players should understand that developing relaxed and full swings will benefit their tennis in the long run.

A player who cares for their proper development knows that in the beginning it’s not about winning. They are patient to develop a comfortable technique that allows them to swing at the ball with power and less effort.

Many people want to sacrifice the process of properly developing a solid technique for the sake of winning a few matches.

As a coach, you must not allow players to become “sloppy” when playing; especially after a lesson where you put so much effort into teaching them the proper technique.

With my students, every time I see them not following the technique we studied, I stop and ask them to do shadow strokes (swing with correct technique, without a ball). I do this with them until they know that not sticking with the proper strokes will interrupt their fun games. (:

If you follow this method, you’ll see that the players will develop a better awareness of how they swing and for the proper tennis technique.

Cosmin Miholca

Cosmin Miholca

Certified Tennis Coach

Check out my work at WebTennis24 where I share with you my best video tennis lessons, drills and tips for players, coaches and tennis parents.

The Not So Kind Stroke in Tennis

tennis slice
In today’s game, dominating and finishing the points with aggressive topspin groundstrokes seems to be the norm for most tennis players. 
 
But I would like to distract you from this by emphasizing the many advantages of practicing slice (under-spin) groundstrokes and using them more often in your matches:
 
1. The slice groundstrokes (forehand and backhand) will send the ball low to the ground, making it hard for your opponent to attack you with an aggressive shot.
 
2. Slice approaches keep you away from receiving balls down at your feet (your opponent will be forced to hit up on the ball) and they will set you up for high volleys.
 
3. When playing against someone who loves to lob a lot, approaching with a slice will make it almost impossible for them to send the ball high over your head – great for doubles play.
 
4. It adds variety to your shots – mix up the slice with the topspin to disturb your opponents’ timing.
 
5. When pushed wide by an aggressive angled ground-stroke/serve, the slice return can give you time to recover (it floats slower over to the other side of the net).
 
6. Slice (under-spin) is what you need to hit drop-shots when your opponents play from too far behind the baseline.

Quick Technique Tip: 
When executing a slice (under-spin) ground-stroke, remind yourself to begin the downward motion with the racquet high above the point of contact. Otherwise, you’ll end up floating the ball too high over the net and/or have it land beyond the baseline. 
 
Practice the under-spin strokes as often as possible. There will be times in the match when you will need them.
Cosmin Miholca

Cosmin Miholca

Certified Tennis Coach

Check out my work at WebTennis24 where I share with you my best video tennis lessons, drills and tips for players, coaches and tennis parents.