The Beginning Lessons of Tennis
Ever wondered what your children are learning in their tennis lessons? If so, here are a few of the analogies and pneumonic learning tips that I use for the beginners I teach. I typically teach kids as young as three and a half and as old as eight years old. By using analogies and pneumonic learning, the children can relate to tennis terms as opposed to learning the technical jargon that we (tennis pros) all use. Here are some of the main analogies beginner tennis players are learning with me:
Introducing the Racquet
When introducing the racquet, I try to stress the importance of where the racket head and where the racquet butt are. This is helpful for when beginners are turning to hit a forehand or a backhand. The head is up, the butt is down, and the head goes down low and comes back up high.
High Low High Tribe of Swinging
I tell the kids that there are many Native American tribes and they’re going to be a member of a new one called the High Low Highs. They will say the High Low Highs? I tell them, “Yes, when you turn your racket to swing, you will go High, Low, High.” Therefore, they are learning the beginning motion needed for even advanced players.
I find this particularly useful for 7-10 year old students. If the kids can picture a clock as a circular item, I ask them if they can tell time. If they say yes, which most of them will, I ask them what number is at the top. Someone will invariably say 12 o’clock. Therefore, I can tell them when they swing, they should go high low high and point to 12 o’clock with their forehand or backhand then go over their shoulder.
Lift the Ball
When teaching kids how to lift the ball, I use rhyme. In our lessons, we first do something that rhymes with burn… turn! Then, we to do something that rhymes with pop…drop! Finally, we to do something that rhymes with swift…lift! Therefore, when learning the swing all beginners have to do is turn, drop, lift in addition to the high, low, high method and the high, low swing method (clock analogy) above.
When teaching follow through, I ask children what three things should be visible. First, the racket butt over the shoulder. Secondly, the lead elbow should be visible. Finally, the smelly armpit. We (Narberth and Gulph Mills Tennis Pros) are taught through Coach Steve Smith and The Great Base Initiative to air the armpit. Therefore, at the end of their swing, each player learns that three things should be visible: butt, elbow, and armpit.