Precision Challenge: Robert’s 2nd Tennis Lesson

3/20/13 – Kelly’s Take

Today the sun was shining, and Robert was ready for his 2nd tennis lesson.  Other than his Precision Golf hat, I would go so far as to say he looked like a tennis player.  As many of us know, sometimes you have to fake it until you make it.

Today’s lesson was on the serve.  In tennis, my mentor’s philosophy has become my own, in which, a player must first learn to hit a forehand.  If a player can hit a forehand back and forth with someone else or even the wall, they are capable of enjoying the game at it’s simplest point, rallying.  Next in line to learn is the serve.  Once a player can serve, they can truly play a point.  At this point, the fun really begins.

Serving is a unique shot in tennis simply because it is the only shot in tennis that you have 100% control over.  Every other shot in tennis is, in some way, dictated by your opponent. Not this one, you are the master and commander of this ship which makes it often the most difficult for some and frustrating for others.  By comparison to golf, where you control every swing and every shot 100%, I understand why golf is so frustrating.  Let’s be honest, the ball isn’t even moving and it’s hard to hit!

So this is where we start our lesson, learning the simplest form of controlling your body’s movement and momentum…the serve.  For me, standing only 5 feet 2 inches tall, momentum and precise technique is very important.  When my stubborn student wanted to rush through each piece of the puzzle, I had to remind him of the importance of staying in the correct flow.  Having flow in an unnatural motion is difficult, but I think he did a great job of slowing down and understanding the movement.  Down together, up together, shift, reach and hit…there are so many moving parts to the serve.  And yet, it is perfection when you can get them all moving together.

Robert is a blast to work with mainly because our banter and relationship is very sarcastic, but we both so badly want to get it perfect in our lessons.  It puts us both in a vulnerable position to be learning a new skill, and I’m excited to see the beginner point of view.  We both want to rush into getting better, and that’s just not realistic.  You have to walk before you can run.

It is intimidating to make the decision to learn something new, but it’s also gratifying to get the hook.  Who would have ever thought that I would actually be swinging a golf club while talking to someone?  Speaking of, I have my next golf lesson right now.  Maybe I will hit it straight today!

Here is the side by side video of me and Robert.  He has a good basic motion!

Robert’s Take

I had my second tennis lesson today from Kelly Parker.  Kelly is a fantastic teacher and I can see why she is in such high demand.  She doesn’t get frustrated even though I’m evidently “very stubborn”.  Today we started with some slow strokes to get me to process the correct forehand movements.  This was the stroke I learned last week.  We kept moving back and therefore adding speed to the strokes.  This part felt much easier than last week, although I haven”t practiced any.  Then we moved to the serve.

I had trouble starting with my weight so far on the right leg.  That felt really weird.  Kelly kept giving small doses of instructions until I finally got better at the balance and the toss.  My home work is to practice tossing……so…I have to learn how to throw a ball in the air.  It looks easy, but my looks can be deceiving.  I’ll do my homework and see if I can improve by next week.

This has already been a great learning experience for me.  It has helped me to see the video and use “modeling” of proper technique verses what I’m doing.  It is easier for me to relate to Kelly’s instructions once I can see the motion.  Kelly is great with keeping the fundamentals simple and not putting me in what I call “overload mode”. I put myself there for one serve today and almost whiffed.  Too much information relating to how to move different parts of the body is a recipe for disaster.  I always try to keep this in mind in my lessons, but learning a new sport definitely confirms that in my mind.  It’s very difficult not to want to learn it all in 45 minutes, but I know going slow will produce the greatest long term benefits.  I’m no different than any other student in that I want it all, and I want it all NOW.  But 30 years of teaching allows me to understand that learning in small “chunks” is the absolute best way to learn the whole motion.

I’m very much looking forward to this journey in learning.  I’m enjoying learning from an expert instructor.  I also enjoy seeing if she will get frustrated with her stubborn student.  The adventure continues next week, which reminds me of another point.  If you are new to a sport, try to take at least one lesson per week for 5-10 weeks.  Your learning will be better if you don”t space out the lessons too far. You can space your sessions out more as you gain more skill.  Practice is important, but not as important as keeping your learning sessions close together in the beginning.

Time to go practice tossing a ball.  Oh wait….I dont have a tennis ball.  Uh-oh!