Recall throughout The Secrets to Optimal Performance Success that both Discrete and Serial Skills were discussed and the disadvantages children through to younger adults face in today’s world when these are neglected. Put simply, in generations past most children were encouraged to play outside and inadvertently learn new skills that would ultimately comprise of key fundamental skills that act as the building blocks for future skills. Fast-forward a generation and not every adult let alone child has the capacity to confidently catch a ball with their dominant hand, let alone their non-dominant hand. These once thought of basic and fundamental skills are no longer as common place as they once use to be and this causes concern for the developing player with new strategies needed. And this is where our NEW Book being shared: The Secrets to Optimal Coaching Success begins as it addresses Fundamental Skills and their role in the developing and/or advancing player/athlete.
The core strategy that underpins the overall development of a skill is to fill the gap. This generation is faced with the additional problem of significant voids in these essential skills — fundamental skills that allow a child to young adult to participate in various forms of interactive activities. With tennis being reliant on a reasonable level of coordination to ensure a person can make contact with a ball — with their hand, and then with a large racket, an example of a simple progression before a ‘normal size’ racquet, these steps are often overlooked and result in the player being on the back foot from the get-go.
Some time ago it was reasonable to think that a budding player would have these fundamental skills to call upon when learning the varying discrete skills involved in tennis. From a forehand groundstroke to a volley, a reasonable level of hand-eye coordination was fairly common. These fundamental skills formed the baseline for children to learn discrete skills and for coaches to teach but without this baseline new methods need to be adopted to ensure the learning process meets these very different demands. To begin, steps need to be put in place to build these discrete skills before the overarching serial skill to allow the player the opportunity to feel more confident in their abilities.
This may sound simple to some but hear me out. I cannot tell you how many players I’ve come across over the years who are simply not coordinated.
And when I say not, I mean they hit the tennis ball in varying ways that puts added pressure on their body, to the point that when they make contact with the ball they almost resemble twisted limbs with a limited level of dynamic balance. Which brings me to the point of developing balance as a fundamental skill to ensure this ‘skill’ can be progressed to a level of dynamic balance that affords a player to maintain a level of coordination in motion .
The downside of avoiding this core developmental area is that these children then progress towards young adults and later are the adults who struggle to actively participate in physical activities and interact with their child and/or children when a physical game is being played. Learning to catch a ball is incredibly underrated. It can be so incredibly fulfilling and it really forms the baseline for so much more. From tennis to baseball, basketball to cricket there are a myriad of examples where this skill alone is a simple stepping stone — a foundation skill for progressive performances.
Increased physical activity is a perk and/or reward for these simple skills and/or having the choice. But what’s most important is the freedom to perform.
In tennis, the forehand groundstroke offers a very simple example through its motion akin to freedom to perform. From an initial stationary position followed by a slight pivot — that needs to be timed with the racket being taken back before coming forward to make contact with the ball, before contact is made and the racket follows the ball all the way through until it then hugs the players opposite arm. Throughout this entire time, the player needs to be lowered to the ground with varying technical proponents in play that I won’t get into here, but this simple action can be made incredibly complex for those without access to the fundamental skills needed to perform such an active motion.
Whether hand-eye coordination to a level of dynamic balance, these fundamental skills are inadvertently learned through play. The best part? My up and coming release will dive into this even further as it uncovers what’s really behind developing a top 10 tennis ranking. Pretty cool, huh? It’ll be hitting the shelves in time for Christmas so be sure to keep a look out (there’s no confirmed release date just yet). But I can tell you one thing, this release is like no other I have released or penned to date as it is a culmination of 11 years of work and the landmark finding of how to develop that top 10 tennis ranking.
To learn more about NEW Book: Fundamental Skills for Tennis Players, head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis and head to Episode 51. More? Catch up on our Tips over on TikTok, Twitter, Threads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.