Last month, West Orange, NJ tennis coach David E. reviewed some of the frequently asked questions about tennis lessons for kids. But what if you’re taking up tennis as an adult? Read on as he shares his knowledge about the different types of lessons, the best tennis drills for beginners, and more…
It’s never too late to learn to play tennis, or improve your game. Tennis is great exercise, and also a very sociable activity. Here I’m going to tackle some of the most frequently asked questions…
1) What qualities should a good tennis coach have?
It is important that your instructor has a positive attitude. Some of the components of a positive attitude are enthusiasm, encouragement, and patience.
Enthusiasm: If your instructor shows excitement about the tennis lesson , this will often help make you feel more motivated and excited, too.
Encouragement: Tennis is a difficult sport to learn, and it can take some time to improve your skills. The instructor needs to offer positive feedback. For example, he or she could say, “I know you can improve your forehand if you focus on the techniques we worked on, and continue to practice it,” or “You are showing some improvement in your footwork.”
Patience: Learning tennis and improving can be a slow process. Your instructor should be calm, offer praise, and be able to make you feel that you can learn to play.
Knowledge: Your instructor needs to have a sound understanding of the fundamentals of the game, as well as strategies. They should know a variety of tennis drills and games.
Communication: They should be able to communicate in a way that is clear. Your strokes should be broken down into steps that are easy to follow, and where success can be achieved. The instructor should understand that people learn with different styles. Some learn better verbally, others visually. Some need a combination of both.
2) What type of tennis lessons should I get?
There are three options to consider: private, semi-private, and group lessons. If you are looking to get the most out of your lessons, I would go with private lessons.
Private lessons are generally taught by the most experienced instructors. They can be costly, though. You can expect to pay $40 an hour or more.
Semi-private is the next option to consider if you can’t afford private lessons. You can share the cost with someone else, and will also have a more social atmosphere. Sometimes semi-private can be difficult though, because generally you and the other person will learn at a different pace.
Group lessons are usually the cheapest. You can expect to spend an average of $15 an hour. Try to find a group that is small (4-5 students). Keep in mind that with larger groups of about 10 or more students, you may not get much individual instruction.
3) How long should each lesson be?
Most adults can handle an hour lesson. If you are in poor condition, or have a short attention span, consider a 45-minute or 30-minute lesson.
4) How should the lesson be taught?
The best tennis lessons will be a combination of games and tennis drills. Focus should be on a particular stroke each session. Sometimes the instructor will stay on one stroke for a few weeks, until some progress is made. All the strokes should eventually be covered: forehand, backhand, volley, overhead, and serve. A progression of feeds should be used, starting with a drop feed, toss, and then a racquet feed. These drills should start in the middle of the court, and then move back gradually as you shows progress. Your instructor should also lighten the atmosphere at times with some conversation about something other than the lesson.
5) What are the best tennis drills for beginners?
When first learning to play tennis, stationary drills are good for beginners. For these drills, you’ll stay in the middle of the court as your instructor feeds you the balls, and together you’ll focus on making corrections in your technique. As you start improving your technique, you can move onto tennis drills in which you to move and hit the balls. These focus on footwork and technique. For example, feeding three balls to the forehand, one on the right side, then middle, and then the left. Then three backhands: left side, middle, and then the right. The next type of drills use cones, with the student focusing more on accuracy in hitting to a certain area of the court.
6) What type of racquet should I get, and what are the best tennis racquet brands?
You should get a standard size racquet, which is 27″ to 29″. It is difficult to say what type of racquet to buy. There are many good tennis racquet brands out there. It is important to demo a bunch of racquets to see which one feels comfortable. Very often tennis shops will let you do this. If you are serious about learning tennis, I would buy a good racquet for about $75 or more. A good racquet will give you the control and power to better learn and improve your game. A light racquet will be easier to control. You need to make sure your grip size is right – if you go to a tennis shop they will help you with that.
7) What type of balls should I use?
If you are a beginner, felt or foam are recommended. They bounce slower and weigh less. They are expensive, and sometimes hard to control if it’s windy outside, though. Regular balls are okay to learn tennis, too. They are recommended for players with at least some experience.
8) Where can I find someone to practice with?
Joining a meetup group is often a good way to meet other players of all levels to practice and play with. If you really want to practice, and no one is around, sometimes parks have practice walls. You may also consider getting a ball machine. This can be expensive though, starting at about $300. Another option is that sometimes your tennis coach may be available to hit with you at a cheaper rate than a lesson.
Learning how to play tennis, like anything else, takes a lot of practice. You can enjoy it though at any level you may attain. Remember: tennis is a lifetime sport!
David E. teaches private, semi-private, and group tennis lessons in West Orange, NJ. He has over 30 years of experience teaching tennis, and joined the TakeLessons team in 2014. Learn more about David and book lessons here!
Photo by Tim Donovan