What comes first?

My facebook-friend Julio Godreau (PTR-Coach in the USA and PTR Mississippi Member of the Year) started on facebook a discussion about the question, what should be the preference for a coach: tactics or technique.

Here is the summary of my comments: „In a playful, holistic and implicit learning, and following new studies in neurobiology we believe, that we don’t need any instruction of technique. If you want to know more about this approach of teaching and learning motor skills, read more on www.innercoaching-blog.de or send a message to info@tms-tennis.de. Nearly all posts in the blog are written in german and in english.“ „I’m glad to be member of this discussion! Thx to Julio Godreau for starting it! As I described, I do not need any technical instructions for 99 % of my clients. I know, this sounds crazy! Have a look at the development of tennis coaching. It came from „standing in a row, instructed by a coach, who knew, which technique is the correct one“ (I remember a nice comment from Björn Borg) to „learning by playing“, which seems to be the modern philosophy of teaching motor skills.

I always use an example to describe, how human beeings learn: Do you remember how you learned walking as you were a child? Was there somebody, who told you something about the correct technique? Was there a „walking-coach“, who told you how to set your feet, how to use your arms in walking? No. I think, in this case you wouldn’t have learned walking so fast. It’s the same process with learning to play tennis. What a coach can do, is to set frames, to support the learner.

For example: use balls, field-sizes and rackets that make the clients able to play, Don’t talk about technique, but set targets and train the body perception abilities of the players. Don’t make your idea of a „correct technique“ a dogma and trust in the self-organization ability of the individual. But: STOP!!! I could tell you so many things, why we are convinced, that this is the better and the easier way to learn and teach motor skills. I’m curious about the feedback!!“

„Late in the evening again, and the discussion is still runnnig! Thats great! What I think, after havíng slept over, is, that we are in some points not talking about the same thing. There’s no doubt, that I need a good technique to develop the most successful tactic! But what makes the difference between methodical traditionalism (that is teaching the technique before playing) and modern motor skill learning (that is playing the game and believing in the self organization abilities of the individual) is, that we can start with tactics from the beginning, from the first hitting of the ball, without thinking about how holding the racket, without thinking about functional motion analysis and other important things.

You think, that therefore we need no coach? I don’t believe that, because a good coach knows a lot about making the game and with that the learning easier! I know this dialogues (where parents or clients ask for „tell me what is wright and wrong“) very well. Some clients don’t believe in themselve. What they have learned in their youth is, that they need someone to tell them whats wright and whats wrong. That is how learning in schools very often works. I’m sorry for them. In a lot of life situations, they are looking for a guru to tell them, how living (and playing tennis ) goes.“

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