Visualize this; a class with a racket for everyone, more than enough tennis balls,Tennis court resurfacing a rolled up blue mat that stands about 3 ½ feet tall, Colored tape, and the honor system. What do you have? You have guessed it right, a tennis court. Sadly, tennis has been neglected in physical education and the reason is not because the teacher isn’t Roger Federer. The reason is also not because teachers can’t walk and chew gum when it comes to tennis. Fact that tennis has been used for only schools that provide appropriate equipment and facilities is irrational. There is no excuse just because a school doesn’t have a tennis court, or it’s raining, or not enough gymnasium space to hold a group of students from practicing the art of a forehand stroke and performing tennis serves like Andy Roddick.
Tennis can be introduced to any student that has the cognitive and psychomotor ability to strike a long-handled implement (a tennis racket in layman’s terms). The only thing stopping students from exceeding their maximum proficiency is one word; Improvisation. I said it, don’t break down and shake your head. Improvisation. Does it need to be repeated again? This term separates a quality teacher from an educated teacher. This term also exemplifies how a teacher can “think on their feet” and adjust to obstacles.
Picture a school’s Tennis court resurfacing where students trying to have a rally is non-existent, take the fence where students have more fun hitting home runs over then playing the actual game. Finally, take the kids that are sitting out waiting to get on a court because there are not enough courts to provide for a class. Now let’s focus and put this image in your mind; use a wall (yes a wall) where students can hit the tennis ball off it and what’s this?
The ball comes back to Tennis court resurfacing?
They can also see how they are doing based on how the bounce comes back off the wall? That’s preposterous. Picture two hockey sticks taped together suspended by two chairs at the end of the sticks. What do you have? A simulated tennis net. That’s crazy though, why would someone ever want to tape two hockey sticks together and grab two chairs and make a net? The people that ask themselves that question don’t have improvisation.
If this sounds crazy to you, let’s have another visualization; college students-ages 18-23 year old adults playing tennis, but not on a tennis court. With rolled up blue mats, colored tape, and the honor system, and a wall, the sight of college students feeling like professionals in a teaching curriculum based environment where teachers used improvisation to create a tennis court, to teach tennis, and the fundamentals of tennis was remarkable. Stations incorporated in a gym where using continental, eastern, and western grips, along with forehand and backhand strokes hitting tennis balls against a wall aided the student’s ability to learn and have fun. Yes, that word no one wants to do-fun. Guess what incentive was needed for college students to hit the tennis ball against the wall and self-check themselves along with the teacher evaluating their form? The incentive was a hula-hoop. Look at that, just a hula-hoop taped up against the wall or multiple hula-hoops at different levels against a wall and college students were enjoying themselves. The best part about all this, there were no NO. 2 pencils needed and a scantron to test their knowledge about the sport. There were no tennis courts needed to practice the sport of tennis. Just a gymnasium and modified equipment.