Written by: Oscar Wegner
***World-renowned coach, author and educator, and a tour player in the 1960s, Oscar Wegner created Modern Tennis Methodology to contribute to the advancement and popularity of tennis worldwide. He modeled the strokes after the best examples of all time, encouraging applying the techniques in a simple, natural, and idiosyncratic way. Oscar is widely acclaimed for his critical impact to the sport of tennis in countries like Spain, Russia, and all of South America. In the past two decades China and Eastern Europe have converted to his coaching techniques. Over the past 40 years Oscar has played an instrumental role in educating and inspiring tens of thousands of tennis coaches and players at all levels, corroborating their success with thousands of testimonials, letters and e-mails. To learn more, visit www.tennisteacher.com***
In tennis there are mainly three areas that need attention: physical, mental and technical.
The physical aspect could be divided into moving to the ball and stroking it. You learned moving at a very young age and those habits formed early should not be complicated nor tampered with. Improvements of those should come natural, instinctive, and without thinking.
Stroking can be learned best by copying the top players in the game, who obviously are there because of their efficiency.
The mental aspect could be divided into focusing ability and state of mind, as in emotions. Focus means being in present time, serenely handling any situation, and not becoming the effect of bad emotions, such as anger or fear.
Technical would be the summation of these previous aspects into a whole.
In order to succeed in having consistent strokes and constant improvement, there are basic racquet-ball moves and contact patterns that create certain results, and those need to be either learned from a coach, or personally searched for early on in one’s tennis experience, or, as it is many times the case with children, copied from some of the sport’s extraordinary figures.
Furthermore, tennis is best played with the hand/hands. Making the student include footwork patterns in his early education would detract from his hand-eye coordination.
That is where the belittling “modelitis” characterization of coaching in a previous ONcourt article would apply appropriately. Tennis is a game of hand-eye coordination, not of hand-eye-foot coordination. The patterns of the hand, the feel thereafter created, and the resultant placement of the shot could better be isolated during the early stages of learning, so the student learns to be focused on those upper body details and not on peripheral moves such as footwork, which are best improved naturally and instinctively based on those moves you learned early in life.
Realizing that the hands in tennis and in other open-skill sports are independent from the rest of the body, and that the rest of the body operates to help the hands execute the shot regardless of the situation leads to better performance and a more athletic skill. Coaches need to be aware that this is the fastest and surest way to improve.