A Progressive Approach to Teaching Racquet Sports – Part 3

September 7, 2009

In parts one and two of our three part series on Teaching Racquet Sports (such as squash) to Large Groups we covered the rationale for using adapted or modified (“mini”) racquets, balls and court size to enhance the learning of the very young or non-athletic adults or youths.  We also covered the importance of using a “Rallying” versus “instructor feed” program so that the learning is relatively “open” and realistic so that players can fruitfully practice with each other outside of clinics and lessons (not possible if their only experience is a perfect coach-fed ball).

We suggested that early learning could be split into three units based on the distance from the wall or partner: 6′, 12′ and 18′ – the objective being for the student to be able to consistently rally 10 in a row with a partner at each distance before moving on to the next.  In our last post we covered Unit 1 from 6′ – and here are Unit 2 (12′) and Unit 3 (18′ ) explained in video.

Unit 2 – Rallying From 12 feet

Unit 3 – Rallying from 18 Feet

Summary for Coaches

  1. The learning of a correct grip is a fundamental that cannot be overlooked – a progressive program starting with minimal rallying distance is the only approach that quickly stabilizes a correct grip with large groups of unathletic learners.  If the grip is not correct then it is impossible for the learner to develop other  fundamentals (such as balance, correct swing paths, etc.).
  2. Optimal learning occurs when tasks are challenging (success ratio between 50-90% – made more difficult once 10 in a row is attained) and students learn by progression not correction (starting full court with a regular ball and racquet having to make frequent corrections to an “ideal’ swing).
  3. All of the most advanced tennis countries have now made the progressive approach their official pedagogy – it is time for squash (and other racquet sport) coaches to do the same.

A Progressive Approach to Teaching Racquet Sports to Large Groups: Part I

August 26, 2009

Most physical educators and squash coaches are not lucky enough to be able to solely coach talented, young athletes in a private lesson setting.  Most of are usually involved in teaching larger groups of untalented (and often unmotivated) youth or adults.  Traditional racquet sport pedagogy methods usually involved teaching using lines of students trying to hit full swings off an unrealistically perfect feed from a coach – with little time for individual correction in group teaching.  My first tennis teaching assignment (1975) was to teach 75 kids on three courts with two assistant instructors.

Read the rest of this entry »


Squash Science Supports British Racketball!

June 19, 2009

From pedagogical, tactical, fitness, social and developmental perspectives, there are good sport science reasons for squash coaches to integrate British Racketball into their coaching activities.

Pedagogical: As the easiest-to-learn racquet sport, due to the slow, relatively high-bouncing nature of the ball and the relatively large racquet face, British Racketball should be the first step for both young and new learners.  The tennis world is currently swamped with progressive learning methods for introductory tennis – and of course in squash we have our Mini-Squash – I think British Racketball is just as good.

Read the rest of this entry »