Monday, August 03, 2015

The Journey to Level 2

It is almost exactly two years since I did my Level 1 tennis coaching course. If I decide to do my Level 3 in two more years, I'll be nearly 60 when I do it!! Anyway, let's get level 2 out the way first before even thinking about putting myself through yet another series of weekends and paperwork.

I must say, the level 2 course is more interesting than the level 1 course was, at least for me. Although I love the work I do with the small group of kids on a sunday morning, the level 1 course was heavily focussed on mini-tennis and games and not too much coaching. Understandable given the remit of a level 1 assistant.

The level 2 course dives almost straight in to technical stuff about stance (open, semi-open, closed), grip (Eastern, semi-Western, Western) and whole lot of other stuff. The brain gets a good work out just trying to remember them let alone actually being able to spot which grip a player is actually using. Then there's all the stuff about progressions and type of shot (apparently there are six), footwork , bodywork and racket work. A lot to think about.

Having said that, there were several things that I can't wait to try with my little group. One of the really helpful things was talking through the process of stripping back a shot to the basics. You forget as a player how difficult it is as a beginner to get in the right position to hit the shot correctly. Actually hitting the shot correctly is hard enough, let alone having to run after the thing!

We also had an interesting discussion about what you would change and what you would leave alone. Obviously if someone comes to you as a complete beginner then you would start them off in a conventional pattern for their strokes. But even when you do that people change as they develop. You might correct bad habits that are going to prevent them from improving, but you might not coach something out of them just to make their game prettier. Take for example someone who finds hitting forehands with both left and right hands and not hitting a backhand at all. You would say to them that they must develop a backhand because that's what "proper" tennis players do. I had one kid the other day who hit right-handed until he served when he turned round and served left-handed. He felt more comfortable tossing the ball with his right hand. Because it was only the second time he'd been on the court I did get his to try right-handed, but if he continued to struggle and if he could actually serve okay left-handed, they why would I coach his not to do that. After all, he might just decide to give up tennis instead of pressing on and getting better.

Anyway, I've now got a whole pile of paperwork to do before our next weekend on the course and then more after that before our final assessment. Not my favourite part, but it has to be done.

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