Monday, February 18, 2013

Set Your Court Abuzz

Last weekend I was at beautiful Hilton Head Island, SC attending PTR's first conference dedicated solely to 10 and under tennis. The presentations were outstanding. I will be sharing the highlights with you in the next several blog posts, starting with this one.

On the first day of the conference, Faisal Hassan gave a presentation about using 'kid friendly' buzzwords in teaching progressions. Many of you are probably already using alternatives to tennis jargon. For example, when I try to explain forehand stroke mechanics to a 5 year old, I ask them to 'scoop it' to get the low-to-high swing path we need to get the ball over the net. By comparing it to one of their favorite treats (ice cream) and pairing it with a visual, my students understand immediately what I am asking of them.

Faisal's examples were numerous, but the ones that really resonated with me were his examples of what he called Mistake Ritual Buzzwords. It wasn't so much the words themselves that were revolutionary. But I loved his idea of helping young players manage adversity by suggesting some phrases to help them maintain confidence and work through tough situations. As tennis instructors it is easy to spend much time on forehands and backhands and topspin and recovery and ready position and point of contact and serve and return of serve and . . . where was I? I think you get my point. So do your students a favor and take some time to offer them some positive mental touch points when things aren't going as planned.

Mistake Ritual Buzzwords
No Sweat
Brush it Off
Good thing you're tough!
Play with pride
You can handle it
You got this
And my personal favorite: Find a way

While we're on the topic of mental toughness, check out this TED presentation by Ann Cuddy. It's kinda long so I will break it down for you: positive body language plus positive attitude should yield positive results. So encourage your students to stand tall and grin and bear it. You might want them to work on that gymnastics dismount pose, too. Turns out there's something to that!