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Breaking down tennis strokes for adaptive athletes: The forehand

USTA Adaptive Tennis Committee | November 01, 2021


When teaching a new tennis player or a player who has developmental challenges, breaking down a task into single steps always helps the student to be able to follow it.

 

Being able to hit a ball in one motion requires multiple steps, hand-eye coordination and balance.

 

By breaking it down to five separate steps and using keywords and visual cues for each step of the stroke, the student can focus on one thing at a time.  

 

In this video, an instructor breaks down a forehand stroke into five steps:

1. Step (turn sideways)

2. Racquet (touch cone)

3. Bounce

4. Hit

5. Elbow (follow through)

 

By prompting the students of each step, one at a time, the student can follow the stroke motion, and successfully hit the ball with the racquet. 

 

See the student who gets very excited that he was able to hit a ball. The early success will motivate the student to practice more and want to hit more balls.  

After repetition and practice, the stroke will become more natural, and the student gradually will learn to do this more smoothly and with fewer, and eventually no, prompts.

 

In a group lesson, a volunteer would be beneficial to work with each student one-on-one.  A volunteer can help students with the steps, encourage and reward them with praise, and reduce the involvement over time to encourage more independence.  

 

Video and content: coach Jaime and athlete Gabe with Adaptive Tennis in West Michigan.

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