Sunday, April 29, 2012

Mission: Impossible

Top 5 great tips I learned at the 2012 PTR Symposium - this was easily one of them. Mike Barrell's (yes, he of evolve9 fame) presentation Message Sent, Message Received included many great tips on how to insure your tennis instruction will sink in with young students. But this was my favorite: when you label something 'impossible', it eliminates expectations and your students will try it without fear of failure. After all, if it is 'impossible', what do they have to lose? and if they do by chance succeed at an 'impossible' task, you can imagine their satisfaction. It's a Win-Win!

Now we all know even though our 10U students are young, they aren't stupid. You need to be careful about which tasks you label 'impossible'. Make sure you use it judiciously, for tasks that are at least moderately difficult if not moreso. Two exercises come to mind that lend themselves to impossibility. One is dribbling 'edgies'. Another is a serve exercise detailed here. Both are difficult for beginners, but not truly impossible. And if your students happen to succeed at it, they will be absolutely thrilled with themselves. Mission accomplished!