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Hardscrabble Scramble
September 1998 Article

Hardscrabble Scramble Archive

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You Be The Guide

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Mike Whittington

One of the advantages of being given the opportunity to write this monthly article is the chance to get feedback about my ideas from all over the world. There is no one way to teach a shot or learn a particular stroke or strategy. Rather, there are several ways to interpret each tip or lesson. That is what makes the job of teaching tennis so interesting - each player and his/her strokes are unique and figuring out the best improvement strategy is a welcome challenge.

Although a teaching professional can help you correct a stroke or strategy problem, it is important to let your instructor know what YOU feel is giving you a problem. Most students rely on the professional to direct the lesson and work on a shot the professional feels needs work. Your instructor can certainly analyze what you are doing wrong during the lesson -- but that is not necessarily the same stroke that gives you problems in your match play. If you've read my previous articles, you know how much I emphasize the need for practice between lessons. I think it is very important to spend quality time in match play trying to use what you've worked on in your lesson.

You know your game better than anyone. Your instructor can help you understand your capabilities and limitations but he/she can't see all of your matches. By telling your instructor more about what you think you need to work on, you will be setting your goals so that you can best receive your instructor's help in achieving those goals. Think about your last tennis lesson for a moment - did you spend time on what bothered you in the last match? Have you set a game plan to improve on your weaknesses during the next few practices? Personally, I like it when a student comes in and tells me what he/she would like to work on in a lesson. It lets me quickly develop drills, point situations, etc. to focus on that particular area of the player's game.

I bet giving your teaching professional more feedback about your practices and matches between your lessons it will help him/her help you. That means faster improvement in your game by letting you be the guide!

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Hardscrabble Scramble Archive

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This column is copyrighted by Mike Whittington, all rights reserved.

At the time at which he wrote this column, Mike Whittington was a USPTA pro in Fort Smith, Arkansas, where he served as director of tennis at the Hardscrabble Country Club.


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