Keep it Simple. How often have we all heard this statement when teaching our students new techniques or even if we are working with a beginner for the first time? I have been teaching for more than 40 years and have been exposed to many different styles and approaches in communicating, educating and delivering instructions. I have been fortunate to be able to teach hundreds of individuals seeking to get into the tennis industry and become tennis professionals through the program we offered at the Indiana University Recreational Sports Tennis Center, “tennis training for career professionals.”
Some of the most powerful and meaningful words spoken to your students are the simplest and most effective provided you have a good understanding of all the proper mechanics and stroke production. Often these words, rhymes and isms that I will share are reminders to the students on what they should focus on.
These are a few of the “mike-isms” that I have incorporated in my sessions and adopted that my students respond to.
SIT BEFORE YOU HIT:
The goal here is to get your students to bend their knees and stay down as they are striking the ball.
EXTEND BEFORE YOU BEND:
This phrase refers to the student extending out through the contact point before bending the arm too soon and going across the body.
Thumb on the thigh, thumb in the sky: Often times the student needs a checkpoint or a reference point as it relates to the starting point and finishes.
Perform before you bow:
This thought helps the student to keep their head up and to extend up and out on their serve.
Track it to the racquet:
This phrase is to get your students to think about watching the ball to the strings.
If you want to celebrate, then you must accelerate:
This statement is to get your student to think about finishing the stroke and illicit spin.
Meet it, don’t beat it:
Most of your students take too much backswing when volleying and this phrase will help your student prevent too much backswing.
If you want to score, use your core:
As teaching professionals, we all know the importance of utilizing the core to perform the desired stroke production.
Cock it, lock it, knock it:
This statement is to get the student to lay the wrist back, align the racquet face and to stabilize.
If you want to compete, then move your feet or suffer defeat:
This phrase recognizes the importance of footwork.
As you can see, there are so many short words, phrases and isms that can be incorporated into your teaching vocabulary. Here are a number of other rhymes and isms
that I utilize:
BELIEVE, AND YOU WILL ACHIEVE
WHEN LOW, GO
SOLVE THE RIDDLE, GO DOWN THE MIDDLE
DIP AND RIP
GRIP IT, RIP IT
SLICE IS NICE, FLAT NOT WHERE IT IS AT, SPIN YOU WIN (MY FAVORITE)
SERVE FOR SHOW, VOLLEY FOR DOUGH
IF YOU WANT YOUR SERVE TO RATE, THEN PRONATE
IF YOU POP IT UP THEN YOU WILL COUGH IT UP
RENOUNCE THE BOUNCE
FIND, FEEL, FINISH
SPLIT THEM OR HIT THEM
THE FOUR R’S: READY, READ, REACT, RECOVER
THE FOUR P’S: PRESENTS, POSTURE, POSITION, PRESSURE
IF YOU CAN’T READ IT, YOU CAN’T BEAT IT
BACK UP THEN YOU WILL PACK UP
STOP THE CHOP
LOAD AND EXPLODE
PLAY LARGE AND IN CHARGE
NO DISGRACE TO CHANGE THE PACE
IF YOU WANT TO WIN THE RACE, CHANGE THE PACE
IT IS RISKY TO BE WRISTY
DON’T BE CUTE, JUST EXECUTE
RECOVER TO DISCOVER
WORK FOR A CAUSE, NOT THE APPLAUSE
The next time you are teaching your students and you want them to remember correct form, use keywords and phrases. These simple words will make learning tennis enjoyable and long-lasting.
About Michael O’Connell, USPTA Master Professional
Michael O’Connell was the head professional at the Indiana University Recreational Sports Tennis Center from 1992-2015. He was a five-time Indiana USPTA Professional of the Year, Midwest USPTA Professional of the Year in 2009 and was inducted into the USPTA Midwest Hall of Fame in 1998