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Tell 'em That You Told 'em
By Tony Severino
Certified Instructor 4A
Professional Tennis Registry

An old country preacher was explaining how he delivers his Sunday sermons.
"First, you tell 'em that you're gonna tell 'em.
Then you tell 'em.
Then you tell 'em that you told 'em. Amen."

That sounds like a pretty good approach to teaching a lesson for any class no matter it be tennis or even ballroom dancing. Whether you are learning or teaching or advancing this is a pretty good format to follow. We have a dancing instructor, Diane, who uses it.
As we do in tennis, she starts each lesson with a talk-thru review where you...
"tell 'em that you're gonna tell 'em:
Ballroom dancing is almost as difficult to learn and do well as is tennis. As in doubles, your partner needs to know the moves to play or dance well together. So, like the old preacher said, she "tells em what she's gonna tell 'em."
As a tennis instructor you also start by talking through each phase of the stroke, tactic or drill the lesson is about. You "tell 'em that you're gonna tell 'em."
"Then you tell 'em."
Diane then explains the dance and demonstrates each step, stopping at the key points of the movement. A tennis class is conducted in the same fashion. You demonstrate, then talk the class through the subject as they perform. Refine the performance and repeat it. Use a softer voice when instructing individuals and a louder voice to address the class. Offer further refinements and again repeat the movement. That is a form of "telling 'em." Adapt the movement into a drill and rotate the class through variations in the positions. Again "telling" each key point.
When it's clear everyone understands the lesson content, the lesson should advance into the playing of tennis until near the end of the period. At that point assemble the class and ...
"Then you tell 'em that you told 'em."
This is a very important segment of the lesson. Gather the group together and, as the old preacher said, "tell 'em that you told 'em." Quickly talk through a brief reprise of the lesson and entertain questions.
The effectiveness of this format speaks for itself when you consider that all of Diane's students continue dancing, some in shows, all for enjoyment. My tennis students enjoy a similar record. Almost all continue playing. Thank the class and you've done your part: "you told 'em that you told 'em."


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