Practice makes perfect permanent Mastery

When I work with groups of junior players learning to play tennis, I use a plan which helps structure the learning processes within each lesson. Below you will see a glimpse of the SYSTEM-9 lesson plan which I use and which will help you to create great players by the age of 14.

The lesson runs as many of us have been taught, however I have added a few more components:

Introduction: By asking about their week, their previous lessons or who completed the tennis homework helps develop rapport for the lesson.

Warm up:  This involves not only exercises to get the body going, but is also a great time to add footwork into the session that needs players are currently working on. The S9 footwork book from worrier to warrior will be available in 2021.

ABC’s: Simple or complex, static, or dynamic every session needs this to aid the sporting journey. The Belgian coaches have cornered the knowledge market in ABCs, and you would do well to check out Ruben Neyens, Kenneth Bastiaens, Phillipe Vergeylen to name just a few.

THE HIT: This area is a major key part of the S9 lesson and enables all students to hit the ball with each other and the coach. This is where I work on anything that we learnt in the previous lesson. The art of learning is to teach something one week and then see if they students can recall how to do it the following week. Of course, its always nice if you can set homework for all to practice mid-week.

Bellow is a diagram of a red ball lesson:

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The key areas below are helpful:

  1. Watching the coach hit with other students
  2. Practicing what they think they have seen
  3. Hitting with the coach


The player watches the coach helping with the visual side, then if possible, hits on an aid like the Billie Jean Eye Coach (although shadowing will also work as it helps create a kinaesthetic feel). NB use the correct footwork when possible. After this, the player hits with the coach before practicing with fellow students.

Each station can last 1.5-2 minutes before rotating.

The S9 lesson will then continue with the following components which I will explain more of in another blog.

The Mission: an aspect many coaches miss out on

Game: ensure this has a collection scoring system in place

Team competition: using the scoring system above will ensure we create a fun focused environment

Wrap up: question students what they learnt, set homework, and hold your rackets in and give a cheer for goodbye.

Enjoy your practice!


Andy Dowsett
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