Fix Listening Skills to Enhance Tennis Learning
(Tennis article by Randy Lynn Rutledge - a former USPTA tennis teaching professional)
This article is about improving listening skills during tennis education.
It is true that teaching and learning situations require a professional tennis teacher to possess a keen sense of awareness concerning when and how to combine and deliver spoken words, be precise in tennis action modeling, and understand how students must combine feel with movement in each progression of every tennis skill to be learned; however, a student’s ability to listen directly relates to his or her ability to learn when the spoken word is used in a tennis lesson.
Experienced school teachers instruct their students in listening skills before attempting to teach the regular classroom subjects. Good listening skills require that students look at the speaker. Students are taught to keep their hands and feet still to avoid distracting themselves or other students. Enhanced listening skills increase the ability of a student to pay better attention. Paying better attention results in faster learning.
A highly skilled tennis player is required to pay full attention to the tennis actions being applied to the tennis ball until each point has ended. A player is required to pay close attention to the detail of all parts of tennis: the actions of the tennis ball, what the opponent does before and during the process of striking the ball, changing conditions of everything and everyone involved in each point, game, set, and match; while attending to any requirements of the body.
The alertness required to be a great tennis player is much the same as the alertness required to be a great listener. The degree to which great tennis players focus their attention in the present moment for extended time periods often translates to play up to and beyond expected ability levels; this can be compared to a great listener's ability to listen for extended time periods and retain much of what has been heard. Both skills, superior tennis playing and advanced student listening, require an enhanced presence of mind in the present moment.
A student’s ability to listen for extended time periods is directly related to an ability to learn for extended periods of time. The absorption rate decreases when inefficient listening skills cause saturation of learning material to take place far too soon.
Periodically mix listening skills enhancement in with tennis drills. Each student will have differing levels of existing listening skills. Be sure to make each student aware of your exact intentions when you are planning to increase listening skills. Explain to your students that they can expect to become tired from listening skills enhancement sessions. Do think of their listening skills as being directly related to all other tennis skills and plan to make increases slowly and deliberately, for the same reasons any other new skill is slowly increased.
How do you implement the listening training? Simply challenge the student to stay engaged for a longer period of time, when it becomes obvious that they are drifting away from paying good attention. Look for the hands, feet, and the eyes to begin to engage in other activities while you are talking; the student hears your words but is no longer actively listening. This is the exact time when you can announce that you need their help in the process of their own listening enhancement. The focusing ability of your student's tennis game will be enhanced at the same time and in the same way that their listening skills are being enhanced.
Listening skills enhancement is a vital opportunity for improvement which is overlooked by many tennis teachers.
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