Observing Tennis Teachers

Today, I watched my niece during her tennis lessons. Separated only by a chain link fence, I could hear and see everything: two former tennis pros teaching 11 kids ranging from ages six to twelve.

I teach in the classroom with pencils, paper and computers and these teachers instruct under the sun with rackets and balls. Yet the underlying methodology of successful teaching is the same:

  • immediate, clear feedback
  • behavior management – create an air of productivity
  • rigorous, high-bar work

This is what I consider to be the “holy trinity” of the effective classroom. I shared my observation with my sister-in-law, “These guys are so strict!”

“Yeah, but that’s why we changed teachers. The last one was too nice and the kids were goofing off all the time and not getting better.”


The kids were working hard. They weren’t laughing or goofing off on the sides. When the instructors told them to pick up all the balls, they did. When they had to transition from one exercise to another, they did so, immediately. They were working. But you know what? They love their tennis lessons and they take pride in getting better every week.

After their 90 minute lesson, they stumbled into their cars, exhausted and satisfied.








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