Maybe you’ve heard the Speaker of the House of Commons, the man who maintains discipline and order during parliamentary debates at The Houses of Parliament in London, shout Order! Order! When the debate becomes rowdy!
Last week on court with players and coaches in Cyprus, I found myself talking to a group of visiting coaches about exactly the same thing….Order…Order!
You see, coaching and developing efficient and effective technique is about chronological and biomechanical order. Let me explain by sharing two thoughts on logical order, observations on what is often common coaching practice, and two simple take-away teaching points or principles for you.
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Order! Order! Teaching principles
a. The opponent hits the ball
b. The ball is in flight and the player starts to use receiving skills
c. The receiving player starts to move and prepare
d. The player prepares and then hits the ball
e. The ball leaves the player’s racket and the player recovers
That’s the chronological sequence of events in a rally. As a simple teaching principle, it’s therefore logical to look at the player in chronological order and to work on receiving skills before sending skills.
Similar to the chronological order above, there is a natural biomechanical order for a player to develop efficient and effective technique too. Biomechanists work from the ground up, since our relationship with the ground is what allows us to move and to move fast.
So, look for the following order:
a. Eyes (receive the incoming ball first)
b. Feet (react to the incoming ball through a split step and sharp first step according to where the ball is going)
c. Shoulders (engage the upper body through what many call a ‘unit turn’, by rotating to initiate the racket take back)
d. Hands (take the racket back with the appropriate backswing)
That’s the simple biomechanical sequence for efficient technique. As a simple teaching principle, look at how players work the feet and the legs before looking at the racket preparation and to work on eyes, feet, shoulders, hands.
Remember, Order, Order!