Teaching Strategies for Dual & Team Sports

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

In this lesson, we review teaching strategies for both dual and team sports. We discuss not only the physical aspects, but also the mental side of these sports. We also discuss critical elements in teaching sports and tactics that are employed to achieve these strategies.

Dual versus Team Sports

Who has not been thrilled by watching two great tennis players such as Federer and Nadal battle it out on a grass court for five hours of sweat and tears? Who has not stood and cheered as their hometown team drove down the field to score the winning touchdown? These are examples of dual and team sports. A dual sport is one that is played by only two competing persons, such as fencing or tennis. A team sport involves a group of players coming together to achieve a common purpose, so there is a completely different dynamic at play.

Now, obviously there are hundreds, if not thousands, of dual and team sports out there, so we can not cover them all in one lesson. There are many strategies to employ when teaching dual and team sports, and the two coaching styles can be very different. There are common threads, however, that do exist among virtually all sports.

Dual Sports

Tennis is a dual sport that requires intense concentration and focus, in addition to athleticism.

Tennis is one of the most popular dual sports, so let us discuss it as an example of teaching a dual sport athlete.

There are four critical elements involved in teaching a dual sports skill. The coach must first instruct the student on how to perform the skill. She then provides an actual demonstration of the skill. Afterward, the student practices the skill, and finally, the student performs the skill so the coach can evaluate and confirm the student's knowledge.

There are also four various strategies for teaching critical elements, techniques, and proper form:

  • Part Method - If a coach were to teach a tennis serve, she would break it down into component parts. First there would be the stance, then perhaps a bounce or two of the ball, then the toss, then bringing the racquet back, then hitting the ball, and finally the follow through. The athlete would then practice the separate parts, not necessarily in sequential order, before putting them all together.
  • Chaining - This is sometimes called the progressive part method, and is similar to the part method. The athlete learns how to do a skill, in sequential order, and then chains them all together into one fluid movement.
  • Whole Method - Here, the coach demonstrates the entire skill from start to finish. The athlete then attempts to replicate that skill. For example, the coach would serve a tennis ball from start to finish and then have the pupil try to mimic the movements. This method tends to work best for rapid movements.
  • Whole-Part-Whole Method - This is in essence a combination of the whole and part methods. The coach would demonstrate the entire skill, and then break it down into its component parts. This allows the student to work on his weaknesses more than his strengths. Then, the student may eventually demonstrate the entire skill back to the coach.

The athlete has no teammates to rely on to help here, and so she gets to take all of the credit for her victories. On the other hand, she must also shoulder all of the blame for her losses. Coaching this type of athlete tends to involve a lot of mental preparation. There is also often an intense one-on-one dynamic between a player and an opponent.

These rivalries can be legendary. In some cases, one player may have a mental advantage over another player with equal physical talents. This is known as having the edge over that player. Sometimes a mental edge develops naturally and cannot really be explained; however, it can just as often be learned. The coach can have the player practice in rain, wind, or extreme temperatures. The coach can also have people yell, boo, whistle, and throw items to mimic an unruly crowd.

Teaching strategies for both dual and team sports includes the mental side of the competitions as well as the physical side.

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