University of Limerick
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The effect of practice schedule manipulation on the acquisition and retention of tennis skills

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posted on 2022-09-07, 13:43 authored by Ebbas Ali
A primary teaching goal for any sport is for participants to achieve a level of proficiency to enable participation in the sport. Coaches and sports federations make recommendations regarding which practice methods to use and researchers in motor learning have investigated the effectiveness of these practices. The focus of this study is the use of whole and part methods of practice for the teaching of tennis to beginners. There are differing views among both coaches and tennis federations as to the most appropriate practice methods for teaching basic tennis skills to beginners. This is especially so with respect to the use of whole and part practice (e.g., Hoskins-Burney, & Carrington, 2014; Rive, & Williams, 2013; Barber-Westin, et al., 2010; USPTA, 2009; ASEP, 2008; LTA, 2006; Fister & USPTA, 2005; Tessier, et al., 2005). In the field of motor learning the situation is also confusing with some studies finding in favour of part practice and others for whole practice. Furthermore there has been no study which has examined this question for tennis. Consequently, the purpose of this research was to identify the most suitable methods of practice for teaching the tennis skills of forehand and backhand drives to beginners in terms of whole and part practice. Study 1 focused on the validity and reliability of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) test which was used in the study. Study 2 was an intervention where forehand and backhand drives were taught to beginner players use whole, part and combined whole and part practice methods. Sixty participants, made up of staff and students (undergraduate & postgraduate) at the University of Limerick, aged from 18 to 35 (age 26.58  4.14 yrs, height 1.67  0.06 meter) were selected from a total number of 136 volunteers and were randomly allocate to form three practice groups (whole, part, and combined whole and part) and a control group which did not undergo an intervention. All participants took part in pre, post and retention tests. The results showed that the three experimental groups all made significant improvements in both forehand and backhand drive strokes from pre to post to retention tests as a result of practice. Also, there were no differences between the practice groups. The control group made no improvement. These findings are consistent with the large body of research in the field motor learning which has found equivocal results for whole and part learning. ii Currently there is no strong evidence for either part or whole methods for the teaching for tennis strokes. However, it is recommended that whole and part methodology be further explored with particular reference to the simplification method. It is further recommended, that a study comparing the traditional stroke technique development methods with the teaching games for understanding (TGfU) approach be undertaken. In this study comparisons would be made for the effects of each approach on the technical execution of strokes and tactical decision making.



  • Master (Research)

First supervisor

MacDonncha, Ciaran

Second supervisor

Smyth, P.J.





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