This year, S9 began teaching tennis in a secondary school. This is the first time in the schools’ history that this has happened, and for many of the students, this was the first time experiencing tennis!
Now three months in, we have 120 children or 10% of the school, not only playing tennis but being able to begin to play doubles! Many of these are attending lessons 3+ times a week.
For me it takes four stages of development to get to this stage:
- Learning to hit through the first 4 stages of the SYSTEM-9 model
- Begin simple percentage tennis patterns
- Add the above in practice point play, games and sets
- School competition
The 4 stages
Not many of the weekly 120 players had even picked up a racket before, so spending time on stage 1 and 2 benefitted immensely and prepared them to be ready to learn hit longline.
It is important that players learn the chopper grip in stage 1 and 2, which means teaching volleys and chips early on along with simple serve exercises.
Think about it the chopper grip is used in the …
- Double handed backhand
- Drop shots
- And later on, for these students slices
All students also have goals to hit 20 shots in the service box with volleys, chips, drives along with 20 shots from the baseline in the longline area.
Percentage Tennis Patterns
This is possible when players can rally somewhat longline (stage 3) and crosscourt (stage 4).
What become apparent with those in the school that could already play and entered into the ‘team group’ struggled when we had simple patterns of play. Once learnt, players can then become more than just hitters in this scenario
When we do get accustomed to understanding patterns of play, putting them in point play takes a whole new meaning. I always say if you can rally eight balls in a row when training then you are on the right track! However, five or more quality balls hit in the rally would suffice for now.
This would be a good time to introduce teaching for the psychology side of tennis.
6-months into the life of the school tennis player, and we will have our first competition, and this is what we are building towards.
I look forward to 4 years in time when the whole school will have experienced tennis and no doubt, we will have a first-class tennis school!
If you are interested in any mentoring in school tennis just ask and we can begin work.
Much of the information is taken from the red ball book and even at secondary level I use many of the games to enable players to become competitive from day 1.
Enjoy your practice!