I delivered my first tennis lesson in Australia yesterday. I was a bit nervous as my shipping hasn't arrived yet and I was using a borrowed racket, borrowed balls and forced to wear running shoes (as opposed to 'proper' tennis shoes that give you more balance in tennis specific movements).
I also didn't know who I would be coaching ... the only info I had been given was a mysterious female name.... was it an adult, a child, a beginner, a pro?
It turned out to be a couple who were rising to a challenge from his boss. Boss + his missus versus my client + his missus. So the competitive stakes were raised from the start. We had a lot of fun working in a doubles context. I hope I passed on to them some fundamentals of doubles play e.g. communication is essential, know your partner's strengths and weaknesses, court coverage and a few basic technical points about volleys and serves.
A first lesson with adults is tricky. You have to get the balance of how to manage their expectations of what they might think they are paying for (lots of instruction and technical information) with what the coach thinks might be the most appropriate way of teaching (lots of game based scenarios interspersed with nuggets of technical tips if necessary). It is a bit of a double edged sword. So it is always a bit disheartening when the first question is, 'How do I hold the racket?' or 'Can you show me the right grip?' before the player has even struck a ball. The coach then has to decide whether, 'let's just hit a few balls and see what you are doing first', appeases the player or if they feel like they are getting a raw deal or even worse that the coach is avoiding the question because they don't know the answer.
This is in contrast with a child's perspective of a tennis lesson. A typical fresh faced 5 year old arrives at the courts and after a fun warm up and some co-ordination exercises spends the rest of the lesson begging to know when they are going to get to play "real tennis". And they don't mean an ancient form of tennis played on a four walled court. More on how to manage this expectation in a positive way in a future post.
This looks like an interesting read on the philosophy of sport: