The Importance Of Technique In High School Tennis…

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The important content is often neglected, and the less important content is consumed in mass quantities. Today, Styrling Strother and I, the founders of USATennisCoach LLC were locked in a very grounded discussion where we compared notes about some of the videos we have posted on YouTube and how interesting the viewing patterns are of those who watch them.

Case Studies on Coach Learning Behavior

I have a series that I have since pulled that was called Bill Patton’s Guide to Coaching High School Tennis, which later became the inspiration for the book, The Art of Coaching High School Tennis.  Styrling has had far greater success in subscriptions and viewers but we noticed something.  The absolutely vital areas of team development and preparation for a championship season were viewed a small fraction of the less important videos for a high school coach.

7 Deadly Sins

Coming up in July my article for TennisPro magazine will share the 7 deadly sins of the High School Tennis Coach, and one of them is: Over emphasis on technique!  People who watched my 15+ episode guide skipped many of the most important topics like teaching strategy, building team spirit, and the mental game, and went straight for dessert, the groundstroke technique and footwork drills.   Styrling shared a similar frustration, coaches are skipping over the vital information to watch his very technical and detailed video on the forehand.  It’s quite good!

Devotion to Most Effective Tasks

Why is it a problem you ask?  It’s because the high school season is too short to truly work on more than one stroke to perfect it.  Working on all strokes at all times would be a huge mistake.  Any benefits of more efficient strokes are lost to:  Not devoting enough time to team building, mental and strategic teaching, and game play situations where you can teach your players to win points between the 1st and 4th shot of the rally.  In reality the perfection of strokes we seek is not realistic, while all the other factors of building a team of smart great performing athletes falls by the wayside.

As we launch USATennisCoach on April 30th, 2016, we want to help coaches to fine tune what they do to create the best possible training situation for their teams. Every team is unique in the number of players, condition and size of facility and school culture of achievement in tennis.  We are equipped to help with all levels.

Fitting in the Most Important Items

What can be done?  If your season is approximately 10 weeks, you can slowly shape the serve motions of players making small adjustments so that there is not a shock to the player’s system.  Also, you may want to pick ONE stroke weakness that causes many errors or limits tactical options to shore that up, during the time leading up to the meat of your schedule.  Then leave it alone for about a week until the meat of your competitive schedule, so the player can be settled and play their game. When working with a player’s strength, if you can add a nuance or one new tactic for them to use their strength, this can be a huge boost, and manageable for the player.

Ultimately, managing just enough change in a player’s game to help them learn to win is the best possible outcome and will have many of your players feeling very confident.

Bill and Players 2IMG_0961

Bill Patton, Executive Director is the Author of The Art of Coaching High School Tennis and Visual Training for Tennis.

Styrling Strother’s  Book    7 On Court Strategies to Enter Your Play State was released July, 2017



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