Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Parent's Guide to Coaching Tennis

I love to play tennis.  I'm completely addicted, and I play outside the whole year round, as long as the temperature is above 40 degrees F.  (When it gets colder than that, the balls just bounce too weirdly to make it much fun.)  My older daughter, who's twelve now, has been enjoying playing for the past couple of years, and last year she was on the tennis team at our local swim club.  And this spring, my ten-year-old decided to give it a go, and she's enjoying it as well.

Now, I have to say, I'm not very experienced with the competitive side of tennis. While I've been hitting with friends for years, I only started playing with the women's tennis team (at our neighborhood swim club) last year, and playing matches is decidedly not my favorite part of tennis.  What I love is those long, hard sustained rallies at the baseline, where all you think about is hitting the heck out of that ball, wham!

So, when it comes to giving my kids a hand on the tennis court, particularly as they strive to develop the skills that will help them during matches, I thought I'd check out some books for some and inspiration.  After reading Bounce, I knew that hours of dedicated practice are essential to developing expertise at anything (and really, who doesn't know that?) - but the important thing I learned from that book is that you can practice all you want, but if it's not what Syed calls "purposeful practice," it's not going to be very helpful.  After all, when you think about all the hours of driving that people put in over a lifetime, the fact that most people drive terribly is a clue!  My goal for my kids (and let me say I'm not trying to create tennis champions or anything - I just want them to develop their skill set so they can have fun) is to create a supportive, enjoyable environment for them on the tennis court, and help them to practice purposefully. 

This book did offer some interesting pointers, but on the whole it was a bit disappointing.  I was looking for ideas to make playing with my kids fun and exciting, and while the book includes some "fun" drills, they weren't anything I couldn't have thought up on my own.  And the book's advice to reward children with candy and popsicles was definitely not helpful!  While the book does appear fairly dated (it is from 1995) with its black and white photos, the photos were definitely helpful, particularly to emphasize to my children what we talk about on the court, so they can see kids in the correct - or not-so-correct - positions for various strokes.  This book would be very helpful for parents who know little or nothing about tennis but who want to be helpful and supportive to children who are interested in playing.  If you already play tennis, there's nothing truly earthshattering here - but your children may find portions of it helpful. 

The Parent's Guide to Coaching Tennis by Pierce Kelley (Betterway Books, 1995)

Have you reviewed this book?  Let me know, and I'll link to your review.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah. A parents support is essential to kids starting to exposed themselves to sports, just a little outlook!kids won't think they are alone in their chosen field.

    Nathan Mclain Tennis


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