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Mantal Skills - Engagement

How to get players to mentaly engage in lessons
By: P.Dent K.Reynolds

Mental Skills Drills


Learning Outcome: To help players to be more actively involved in their own learning
Teach It

What’s missing from this performance equation?

Training Time + Talented kids + Master coach + Quality training facility
 + Quality training partners and role models + Social support + Incentives/funding/programmes + …………….?       = PERFORMANCE


Many players we see are not truly engaged in their preparation…
They are being prepared instead of preparing…

So how do we know that a player is really involved in their own training?

YES-  Both player and coach are working together as a team
YES-The player is ‘working hard’ and often realising things for the first time.
YES- The player is more able to assess himself and has greater understanding of how to improve.
YES-The player is curious and as such is actively asking for information and advice i.e. the player is asking the questions not the coach!

Train It
· Stop to practice!

Using the entire lesson as a match; players can stop at anytime to practice a skill before putting it back into the match. For younger players who you are helping educate about owning their practice you may need to agree upon a minimum number of times that they have to stop

· Who Learns?

In order to improve, player and coach need to recognise that it is ultimately the player who voluntarily learns rather than the coach who makes them learn even with the most enthusiastic of teaching.

· Consensual Authority: “Would you mind if…”

‘Consensual authority’ allows the benefits (e.g. effectiveness, efficiency) of democratically agreed leadership to be exercised in the context of a developmental environment. For example, “Would it be ok if we work a bit more on your down the line backhand?” Or
“Would you mind if I took the lead in the next 15 minutes of the session?”
Asking permission in this way before taking control or offering a suggestion maintains the perception to the player that the relationship is a two-way street in which the players’ thoughts and feelings are valued and respected. Asking permission also preserves the feeling that the player has ‘self-rule’, that they determine things. It is almost like saying, “Can I have your permission to really challenge you in these next 10 minutes?”

· The following paradigm shift of coaching players as ‘individuals who wish to learn and not as objects who must be taught’ has the potential to totally change your coaching style.

· Giving them the last word/action

Provide the player with ownership and responsibility so that he is ‘guardian of the standards’ by inviting him to determine when that section of the lesson is successfully complete by saying, “Finish when you feel you have done really well on what you want to do on this skill”
Test It

· Ask a trusted observer to put a stopwatch on your lesson and calculate the percentages of communication involvement between coach and pupil. The observer can also take notes on; who initiates dialogue, questions v commands, body languages, voice tone, eye contact and open v closed questions.  

Mental Tool Kit

If you would like to purchase a copy of the 'Tennis Coaches Toolkit', click here and visit Paul and Keiths site, then contact them directly.

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