For most of its history, tennis was taught backwards. Coaches started beginners by teaching them the basic strokes first, then teaching them how to play the game (strategy and tactics).
Beginning in the 1980s, the tennis industry began to realize that players would learn strokes better and quicker if they first learned how to properly judge an incoming ball and get in the right position. Tennis associations also discovered that players who learn stroke skills in a playing situation retain those skills longer and can recall them during a match.
Certified and trained tennis coaches no longer stand at the net and feed beginner players easy balls from a basket. Beginners today start with short-court rallying, learning how to tap the ball to a partner on the same side of the net, progressing to rallying over the net while standing only a few feet from the net.
As beginners learn how to judge balls, move their feet and control the ball to a partner, they move back toward the baseline a few feet at a time. This helps players learn tennis skills under control using all of the skills needed to play tennis, not just forehand and backhand swing techniques. As beginners begin to master rallying, trained coaches then begin making specific stroke changes, such as working on the grip, the backswing and the follow-through.
Another teaching tool trained coaches use when working with beginners is low-compression balls. These balls don’t bounce as high as regular balls, allowing students to control them better and rally longer. Because the balls also don’t fly as far as the harder, regulation balls, beginners aren’t afraid to make a full swing when practicing new strokes. This helps develop longer swings and more topspin and slice.
In most cases, a PlayYourCourt tennis professional can have you serving, keeping score and rallying from the baseline after a few lessons. You won’t be ready for league play in this short timeframe, but you’ll be able to practice with a friend when your coach isn’t there. This type of practice is also more fun and helps you burn more calories.
Search PlayYourCourt.com to find a tennis coach near you for beginner tennis lessons.