An absolute joy to share, Learning through Prior-Play is all about fun and genuine play — the kind that takes on an old-school definition and can be applied to your sporting performances. In this case we’re focusing on tennis and the varying application of other sports to activities that can really compound a player’s and/or athlete’s performance progressions by the simple act of playing. Sure, this may sound a little too simple but that’s the art of it all. When did playing get so complex? I often have seen players/athletes learning key skills of their sport — primarily tennis in this case, and the arduous hours put in only for their performance to progress like a snail’s pace opposed to a cheetah with its eyes set on a target!
If only all programs were designed in line with a Cheetah’s mission! This is why I am Your Tennis Guru was built and designed with programs in mind but also the role of fun through play. On a more serious note, all tennis players begin somewhere and the majority of the time it is as a child and their experiences throughout this age range will depend on whether or not he/she will continue playing the sport later in life.
On a personal note, I’d be out there playing if I could. Those of you who are familiar with Beyond Top 10 Tennis and my work are equally familiar with the injuries endured over the years and ones that have come up years later courtesy of my time playing and the poor techniques encouraged during my developmental years. We know why this happens and a substantial amount of my work is around this to ensure each new practice and/or technical application shared aligns with mitigating injuries opposed to not considering the long-term effects from the beginning. I’ve used terms from negligence to softer terms over the years but it is quite another level when it has a lifelong impact on your own and/or your child’s functionality.
Most importantly, I use myself as an example of what can happen when play is taken away and/or when the guidance is voided and play becomes harmful. That’s not what I am talking about. Per the rules of the What is Your Game Missing Series, it’s incredibly important to be mindful of these technical implications. At the same time, The Secrets to Optimal Coaching Success has powerful lessons to weave into a training session with play at the centre of all that you do. But this is also where Learning through Prior-Play comes into play. Recall our previous Episode (22) and accompanying Blog on Single-Sport Interactions. Learning through Prior-Play has similar associations but now we’re taking it to the next level. Back ‘then’ you were forming those initial foundations.
Now as we’ve been progressing through The Secrets to Optimal Coaching Success after 50 Episodes of The Secrets to Optimal Performance Success there is some wiggle-room to let your hair down and make sure this is the case every time you’re at practice and/or training (not literally for the girls and/or women out there as I personally know how uncomfortable that can be)!
On a serious note, when play becomes removed from the training and/or practice environment the longevity of a player becomes compromised. This also means following The Pathway to The Long Game becomes threatened merely because someone decided to live vivaciously throughout their child and/or player opposed to guiding them along the way whilst ensuring fun is a main ingredient. By all accounts that level of focus, as a player you’re fine tuning, feed off that and have fun! The same applies for your progressions and even regressions — know there’s meaning behind it and by following the key steps put in place, you’re following in the footsteps of ‘giants’ who have taken the sport of tennis to the next level.
Learning through Prior-Play really emphasises fun and enjoyment that happens inadvertently and more often than not away from the primary place of practice/training. Be it surfing to skateboarding, there’s an inadvertent skill there i.e dynamic balance! Perhaps try your hand at swimming to cricket where a myriad of skills are on offer, or the likes of basketball to golf where hand-eye coordination is put to the test. Just because ‘tennis’ is your sport of choice does not mean other sports can’t offer you new skills that can compound your performance! The same applies for fun and enjoying yourself through sheer play.
To learn more about Learning through Prior-Play for Tennis Players, head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis and head to Episode 58. More? Catch up on our Tips over on TikTok, Twitter, Threads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.