With a crowd of nearly 100 coaches looking on, Butch Staples tossed a red felt ball in the air and smashed it across the net, allowing it to bounce once before drilling another across the net and into the wall. Over and over, again and again, Staples hit shots with different grips and swing styles, explaining each one in detail while the group looked on with interest.
It was all a part of the 10 and Under Tennis Workshop hosted for teaching professionals, directors of tennis, and head pros at Ron Jaworski’s RiverWinds Golf and Tennis Club last Thursday, which aimed at better educating local coaches and organizers on the best practices of teaching 10 and Under Tennis. In all, more than 90 coaches representing approximately 50 area tennis clubs and facilities were on hand to learn and discuss the best ways to connect kids with tennis, both through drill-work, coaching, teamwork and more.
“I’ve been involved with 10 and Under Tennis since the beginning,” said Staples, who is based out of South Carolina and has led recreational coaching workshops all over the country for the past 12 years. “These events always seem to produce great results. People are very passionate about teaching tennis to kids and growing the game, and this is a way to get out as a group and really dig into what some of the best messages, drills and principles of 10 and Under Tennis are.”
Throughout the morning, Staples bounced back and forth between drill-work and discussion, teaching the instructors the best activities and drills for the kids while also talking about the reasons behind them. The message was about providing the best experience for the kids in each respective program – both experienced and non-experienced – and finding the games that tend to stick the most.
“One of the things I really try to get across is that kids need to get comfortable and work together, because that really helps their development with learning strokes and how to hit some real shots,” Staples said. “Once they get on the court with the appropriately-sized equipment, they begin learning and having fun. That’s the goal.”
Staples talked more about the importance of kids understanding why certain motions and movements create different types of shots, spins, ball-flight and more. For example, he may ask one of his students to move from backhand to overhead to forehand – back to back to back – to best demonstrate the differences between the shots and the results of each action. He sets up drills that involves each player on the court and keeps the group moving, learning, thinking and enjoying the sport as much as possible.
He says that after drills like that, a player’s development speeds up as he or she grows taller, stronger and more capable on the court.
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