By using my knowledge and understanding of skill acquisition principles, psychology of learning and biomechanics, I have produced a six-week tennis training program. Incorporated in this report are the types of feedback used, the research laboratories carried out, and the design, analysis and evaluation of my coaching program.
Research laboratories (See Appendices A, B and C) were carried out to assist in the development of my coaching program. These laboratories were on different types of feedback, the importance of accurate feedback and the use of feedback in mental rehearsal. The results from these labs provided me with a guide as to which type and the amount of feedback needed for a successful coaching program.
Background Overview Types of Feedback There are many different types of feedback that can be used to enhance one's performance. Generally, "the more precise the feedback, the more accurate the performance will become." (Amezdroz, G., Davis, D., Dickens, S., Hosford, G., 1999, 2001. Queensland Senior Physical Education, Macmillan Education Australia, South Yarra, Australia.) The types of feedback used in my coaching program were:
Knowledge of performance-general performance - this was used for the early stage of my coaching program when I needed a clear picture in my head to compare my actual performance with, eg. correct stance when serving. This type of feedback was provided to me by the coach, teacher and/or fellow participants in my program. I also watched my performances on video so I actually saw where I was going wrong and could then work on my motor skills.
Positive feedback - this was given when I successfully completed a task. Positive feedback encouraged me to try again and persevere with the learning. This was used throughout the whole duration of the coaching program. Knowledge of performance-specific - this was used in the later stage of my program. When I completed executing a movement or skill I was told on what I was doing wrong, and what to do to improve on my performance, eg. my ball toss was too low and I would therefore rush to hit the ball or simply miss it. By throwing the ball higher I give myself ample time to raise the racquet to hit the ball. Knowledge of performance gave me more detailed technical information to improve my skills.
Concurrent (continuous) feedback - this was, as the name states, a continuous form of feedback given throughout the coaching and practice sessions. Augmented (external) feedback - this type of feedback was provided both visually and verbally. I viewed a video of my performance and analysed what I was doing in/correct. Design and Analysis of Coaching Program At the beginning of my training I was at the late Cognitive stage of learning.
I had little experience and knowledge of the game of tennis. During the six weeks of training I learnt and began to understand the skills needed and the rules of the game. I have now progressed through to the early Associative stage as demonstrated by my ability to effectively serve in both courts.
The coaching program was based on distributive practice. This is where I would have short, practice sessions of a skill followed by a short break. For example, after doing 10 serves in both right and left court I was given a 2 minute break. During the break I would visualise in my head, the skills I had just learnt, and then the correct way to execute it. After the rest interval I would then carry out the skills. Improvements could be seen by me placing 50% of first serves and 75% of second serves in court.
Whole-part learning was incorporated into the coaching program. This is when I would learn the whole skill at once, then break it down and concentrate on certain components that I was having difficulty with. Eg., learning to serve in tennis: 1. An explanation and demonstration on how to serve the ball was given 2. I carried out the serve like I had been shown 3. The serve was broken down into each skill associated with it that I was having problems with. Ie, stance, ball toss. 4. Each skill was then learnt and completed with success 5. All skills were then put together and a full serve was executed.
Mental rehearsal was also a very important factor in improving my tennis performance. By 'zoning out' before a training session I would allow myself to block out all factors including spectators, noises, etc., and concentrate fully on the task at hand. An example of one of the main mental rehearsal activities I undertook was bouncing the tennis ball 2-4 times before serving.
The research laboratories carried out gave an indication on why the types of practice and feedback I incorporated in my program would be more useful than any others. For example, a lab indicated that the more precise feedback we were given, the greater improvement we made on our performances.