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Copy of Developing the serve

Developing the serve aged 10 & under

simon wheatley

on 22 July 2014

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Transcript of Copy of Developing the serve

Developing the serve for children aged 10 & under
Rhythm & Coordination skill progressions
Arms & Legs together stage
Throwing skills progressions
Elbow Push
Muscle Man
Floppy Wrist Flow
Palm Back Muscle Man
Throwing to throw stage
Catch the elbow
Sink - drive - throw
Full throw with backswing
Thumb out throw
Throwing to serve stage
Dog Lean
Run - sink - drive & throw
Baseball throw
Throwing to develop rotations stage
Tip-toe serve
Drive & land
Serve feet still
Net stick sit
Net stick twist
Net stick sea-saw
Arabesque hold
Balance in advanced rotations stage
Throw & catch
sideways on
Toss & contact frontal -
'palm out'
Throw & catch frontal
Balance for lower & upper body stage
Balance skills progressions
Teaching Progressions RED/ORANGE/GREEN
Up & Over toss
1 & 2
Walking smashes
Continuous serving
Arms together stage
Complex R & C stage
Technical skill progressions
Initiation 'push phase'
Initiation 'loaded' phase'
Functional phase
Key summary points
More time should be spent during lessons, every lesson, on the serve. This will give children additional repetitions, couple that with good teaching and you undoubtedly maximise learning.
Clubs & coaches to create an environment where:

1) Parents are educated into the benefits of bringing their child to the club in their spare time to practice their serve.

2) Young children are motivated & inspired to come and practice their serve independently in their free time.
Ensure players are using an appropriate sized racket in length and weight which reflects the child's:

1) height
2) strength
3) ball colour (R/O/G)
4) court size
5) Skill level
Ensure players are serving on an appropriate length & width court which allows them to develop sound service mechanics that mimic the flight paths and distances in scale to adults.
Help children develop their skills using a set of simple physical & technical teaching progressions incorporating the 4 'pillars' of a good serve:

1) rhythm & coordination
2) over arm throwing
3) balance
4) specific technical development
Balance related to age......
Poor balance
Visible postural sway in
3 places during the serve
1) Pre-throw
2) Through impact
3) Landing & follow through
Balance is the ability to maintain the center of gravity of a body within the base of support with minimal postural sway.
Reasons why children find the serve difficult
Elbow behind shoulder up until release
socially more rare
Minimal deliberate practice
Minimal transference practice
Learning to throw is a pre-cursor to learning the specific serve mechanical characteristics. Where young children fail to develop their throwing technique is due to the elbow moving in front of the shoulder too early in the action. This prevents the maximum development of external and internal rotation of the upper arm, which can contribute up to 40% of the upper arm speed. So when the upper arm externally rotates the elbow should be behind the shoulder.
Poor rhythm & coordination
Poor throwing skills
Over-arm throwing is rarely taught in schools as a stand alone skill and very few professional coaches/teachers have the knowledge/ experience and confidence to help young children learn this invaluable skill. Therefore as coaches we should religiously include throwing into each lesson so it doesnt become an under practiced skill.
The over-arm throw is becoming more and more extinct as a playful activity especially from western developing nations. Youthful voluntary activities are now based around technological game consoles. This is true even for the physical game minded child. Going outside and throwing stones against lampposts with friends has been replaced with wi-fit. Riding a cylce replaced with electric scooter's. Playing tag with facebook.
For girls it is unique to see them socially playing games which involve over-arm throwing. Rarely will you see girls in parks/ fields or streets doing activities which purposely include throwing stones, mudballs, snowballs, tennis balls etc. It is much more common to see girls playing throw and catch games as a co-operative exercise unlike boys which will often be a competitive game. Therefore girls adopt more underarm throwing due to the distance required to play throw and catch with one another and the boys select the overarm throw due to the specific competitive task i.e throwing snowballs at each other.
Coordination is the progressive motion from larger to smaller joints, which transfers energy through the interaction of segments. This is the bodies most effective technique for fast movement of small resistances. Obvious pauses or a lack of a stretch on muscles as segments reach peak speed are symptoms of poor coordination.
Myelination is the maturation of nerve cells whereby a layer of myelin forms around the axons which allows the nerve impulses to travel faster. Myelin is a fatty substance which covers and protects nerves. Researchers in oxford have proven that when people learn a new skill (juggling), brain imaging shows that the white matter in their brain increased. This increase in white matter is due to Myelination. Games and tasks that require learning more complex skills helps increase the fatty coating of the nerves which in turn speeds up sending of signals to the muscles which in turn develops a more coordinated athlete.
At birth, baby horses are 25% already myelinated which is why they can walk straight away. The human baby at birth has no where near 25% of their body myelinated and this is a reason why it takes up to two years to learn how to walk.
uncoordinated child
Lower body coordinated child
Highly coordinated child.
Another important observation about coordination has to be surrounding the amount of exercises and activities we do above our heads. Even as adults there are very few occasions where we need to raise our arms above our shoulders and challenge the body to do skillful tasks. Therefore children will no doubt find it alien to do a technical skill above their heads. As coaches we should try to encourage lots of movement type exercises at the start of each lesson which gets children to coordinate their arms above their shoulders.
Inappropriate environment/ equipment
Rackets, balls courts sizes)
Under practiced!!
Incorrect grip
Toss & push frontal -
'palm in/ palm out'
3 cones serve
Hammer tap
Hammer flip
Table tennis serve
Extra practice
Appropriate sized court
More time on serves during lessons
Using the teaching progressions tools
Appropriate racket
Correct grip
Ensure players are developing use of the continental/semi continental grip very young and every lesson.
7 yr old boy
poor rhythm of arms working together
Same boy practicing rhythm exercises
8 yr old boy
excellent rhythm of arms working together
Lower Net
Baseline nearer
Long service box in comparison to the length of the court
Cant create sidespin or topspin
Creates a poor pre-throw position
No outwards wrist flexion
Top 5 reasons why not a EASTERN/SEMI WESTERN FOREHAND grip
If a player uses a eastern/semi western forehand grip to serve they wont get into a good pre-throw position when they take the racket back. They will open the strings so the palm of the hand and the racket head is facing up . This will not allow the player to rotate their upper arm to the same speed as a player using a continental grip . This rotation is called Internal rotation and contributes up to 40% of the speed of a players serve.
(Open strings)
Cant drop the racket down the back as far
Continental grip
In order to create a longer path to build up speed for impact the racket should drop down behind the players back. This is called external rotation. If a player uses a eastern/semi western forehand grip they cannot drop the racket head as far as a player who uses a continental grip. This is because, as the palm of the hand faces up it lifts the elbow higher, then pulls the elbow around in front of the shoulder.
Forehand grip
If a player uses a eastern/semi western forehand grip they will bring their elbow in front of their shoulder to early in the action . This will not allow the upper arm to swing the racket as fast for impact as a continental grip would . This will also promote a more frontal stance which means they cant rotate their hips as they are making contact with the ball and they will find it difficult to create any tilting of the shoulders needed for a more developed service action.
(Elbow in front of shoulder too early)
Creates a poor pre-throw position
Players who use a continental grip throw their racket for impact and align their racket face by turning their forearm (called pronation). If a player uses a eastern/semi-western forehand grip they cant pronate their forearm to create different paths of the racket to the ball. This prevents them from developing a slice serve & topspin serve.
The last segment to be used in the serve is the wrist. It moves forwards and outwards. Wrist flexion can contribute up to 30% of the total speed of the racket at impact. However if a player is using a eastern/semi western forehand grip they cant flex their wrist outwards, just forwards so they can potentially lose up to 15% of additional speed. To see if a player has flexed their wrist outwards you can look at the position of their thumb. It should be pointing out to the side.
Tram - T- tram serve
Backspin chop
Knee bend & tiptoe
If the mass of the racket is distributed near the axis of rotation (hand) it is easier to rotate (swing)
Moment of inertia in tennis is the ability to swing/ rotate a tennis racket or body part.
If the mass of the racket is too far away from the axis of rotation (hand), the racket is too difficult to rotate (swing)
Smaller racket length helps to swing the racket faster
A wider racket head reduces the racket twist on a off axis impact (hence reduces the ball’s errant angle due to the twist).
A thinner racket head increases the racket twist on a off axis impact (hence it increases the ball’s errant angle due to the twist).
Wider racket head increases stability during an off center hit.
26 inches
A child who is tall may be suitable to have a longer racket because of their longer limbs. However they may not have the strength/coordination to rotate the racket and therefore lose control of the racket as they are swinging for impact.
A strong child for their age may use a longer / heavier racket as they can exhibit the strength to swing the racket for impact. However many children who are strong use a longer racket but lack the coordination or skill to control the long lever of the arm and racket combined.
The ball colour can help determine what racket a child uses. Children playing with the RED tennis ball (indoor or outdoor) wont need a long racket. The lighter/ larger ball can be controlled much easier from a lighter & smaller racket.
Balls to match the child and the court size
The progressive court sizes in under 10 tennis can help players in selecting an appropriate racket. The length of the court (combined with the type of ball used on that court) can help match swing lengths to the distance from baseline to baseline - match those two up and often you will have an appropriate sized racket.
The skill level of the child is one of the most important factors in selecting an appropriate racket. The more skillful the player is in their level of coordination & their technical development the longer/heavier a racket can be. However if a child is playing on a courtsize which warrants a smaller racket due to it being shorter, then a smaller racket would be more suited. The golden rule here is not to make the child less skillful by making them play with a bigger racket.
25 inches
19 inches
21 inches
17 inches
26 inches
Racket size guidelines
23 inches
26 inches
Court size
Skill level of the child
The RED ball is up to 75% lighter and slower than the yellow ball.
The ORANGE ball is up to 50% lighter and slower than the yellow ball.
The GREEN ball is up to 25% lighter and slower than the yellow ball.
Lighter balls cause less shock giving less stress on the arm and allowing for better development of the use of the small segments of the arm
Specific tactical patterns
Set simple tactical patterns with appropriate group or individual teaching points each lesson.
Set individual goals
When learning difficult skills it can be a powerful teaching tool to use goal setting sheets. Goals can give a sense of purpose for practicing and more importantly highlight to the player their progress once they have achieved their goals.
Do lots of fun target games
by Simon Wheatley
Centre of gravity
Centre of gravity
Elbow behind the shoulder up until release
Girls V's Boys
Minimal deliberate practice
Skill transference
What is coordination?
How we develop coordination & rhythm
Above the head exercises
Study included group & indivdual lessons
9 month study
15 coaches who work full time in under 10 programmes (COACHES WERE UNAWARE OF WHAT WAS BEING CHARTED)
Over 10 coaching venues took part
Over 2000 lessons in the study
A small sample of players in group lesson were charted on how many forehands/ backhands and serves they hit.
The study
Why such a low % of time spent on serves when every point starts with a serve?
"More difficult in group lessons to get around everyone and offer technical instruction"
Coaches answers !!!!!!!!!
"At Red the easiest way to start a rally is using an underarm serve- just to get them playing the game quickly"
Solutions !!!!!!!!!!!!!
Doesn't always have to be technical instruction
Give generic group technical instructions
(eg feet still)
Do serving throughout the lesson to help see everyone
Overarm 1st serve/ underarm 2nd serve
teach overarm serves closer towards the net
" Too static - not enough activity - parents want to see lots of rally's"
Researchers summary
Many coaches in lessons would leave the serve until the end of the lesson as a warm up for point play. It would be done quickly with little instruction and specific feedback, very few drills involved the serve and even in the point play the emphasis of the feedback to the players was during open play.
Educate the parents early in the importance of the serve
Start every rally with a service action- warm ups, mini box hitting , drilling.
Teach the serve with the return - then players will quickly associate the effectiveness of the serve with the 3rd ball.
"More fun rallying than the closed skill of serving"
Create lots of target games where mastery of accuracy is challenged.
Set goals with players linked to their competitive improvement
do serve-return-play the point out drills to avoid static repetition.
Start every rally with a serve
Palm out/ palm in/palm out
Palm in/Palm out/
palm in/palm out
Technical analysis framework
Appropriate sized courts to match the child
Red court width is 66% of traditional court, whilst a 5, 6, 7 and 8 year old are 64.8-75% of adult height, this shows that the court size % is very suitable for this age group. The red court length is only 46.3% of a traditional court, although this is a lower %, we must consider that children in this age group have limited depth perception as their vision is still developing.
Orange court width is 78.9% and length is 75.7% of a traditional court. Orange courts are commonly used by players aged 8-9, who are on average
75-78.3% of adult height. These percentages show that the Orange court is almost perfectly scaled to the size of the player
'Developing an order of thinking and correcting'
1) Balance
2) Rhythm
3) Throwing action
4) Biomechanics
Through impact
Follow through
Slow to fast
Arms working together
1) palm in
2) palm out
3) palm in
4) Palm out
Tiptoe stance
Chair Tilt
Racket down
Common problems developing the serve
Wrong grip
Elbow to high
Elbow too low
Change the grip

Feet move everywhere
Poor toss
Open strings in pre-throw
Bowl serve
(straight arm)

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