Trust me on this one as the amount of players he has successfully worked with is much too long to list and not just in doubles but also singles players like Greg Rusedski – ex world No 4.
The recent success of British doubles players including Jamie Murray, Colin Fleming, Ross Hutchins etc is largely credited to Louis! (By the players themselves!)
One of his main themes was “if you can’t feel it you can’t fix it” i.e. rather than confusing players with loads of technical information you help the player “feel” what it’s like to play a shot.
The key is not to “teach”, but rather help players “learn”.
The goal is to help the player develop their own internal feedback (i.e. what they think they did) with what the coach observes (external feedback). Helping the player to raise their self-awareness whether good or bad is the first step, since many people are unaware of what they’re doing!
It did make me think back to the inner game approach of Timothy Galway many years ago and it’s a method of coaching I’ve always felt is the true path to helping people learn.
How many lessons have you experienced when the coach repeats again and again the same command e.g. “drop the racket head and brush up over the ball” which the pupil understands, but can’t manage to “do” it, much to both coach and players frustration. So instead the coach might say “tell me on a scale of 1:10 how relaxed your wrist feels just before you swing forwards at the ball”.
The coach and player can go back and forwards until the player can feel what number of the scale works well for them and then continue to focus on that “feel” and not “how” to do it.
Louis used key words to help describe the feel of the shot e.g. ”touch”, “block”, “catch” (classic for control volleys) – and these words would be used to describe specific shots and the “feel” (sensation) required to help execute effectively.
This type of learning I believe can be very successful for beginners but also for pros in that it allows them to focus on feel and rhythm when under pressure.
Louis having spent 27 years on tour with pros commented upon how often he would hear players talking in the locker room about great feel or a lack of rhythm etc., but never about ”how” to hit a shot e.g. ”Yes, I didn’t angle the racket correctly at contact point” – NEVER! But this is exactly what I hear many people talking about when they miss.
2 more quotes from the King –
- “Getting players to “feel” the way a shot is hit impacts them far more than trying to copy a sequence of movements”
- An ancient quote – “What I hear I forget, what I see I understand, what I do (feel) I know”
I hope to spend some more time with Louis over the winter which will then allow me to help my young pupils at home and hopefully some of my Tuscan Tennis clients on our Special Hosted Weeks!
Look forward to helping you “feel” the shot. And don’t forget to pronate on the serve – just kidding!