chapter  38
6 Pages

Modern teaching methods for tennis: What do they have in common?

ByP.G. UNIERZYSKI AND M. CRESPO

Tennis has been changing, but for many decades teaching methods have been behind the general development of the game. It started to lose the battle to other, especially ‘new’ or more ‘elite’, sports and other leisure activities. One of the reasons was that the traditional methods of teaching used in tennis were based on a technique and stroke production (Crespo, 1999) without understanding the real character of the game. This approach has not changed for many years. Results of studies undertaken by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) showed that in some, especially more matured tennis countries, tennis appeared ‘not to be a fun game to learn and play for the vast majority of youngsters interviewed’ (ITF, 1998). Children, parents and coaches acknowledged that ‘games and game-like situations were more fun than technically oriented drills’ (Stean and Holt, 2000). ‘Having fun’ is the most important motivator for children’s involvement in sport (Wankel and Kreisel, 1985; Scanlan et al., 1993) and a need for an alternative, more attractive way of practising was widely identified. Findings of researches (e.g. Bunker and Thorpe, 1982; Thorpe et al., 1986; Thorpe and Dent, 1999), observations of the careers of many top tennis players and experience of the most successful coaches have given a basis for a new teaching and training philosophy. Many national federations have formed their own systems and have used their own names, but modern training methods follow a similar philosophy and have many commonalities. The aim of this paper is to describe these commonalities and find the characteristic points of the ‘new’ teaching philosophy in tennis.