From the USTA National Task Force: Defining Adaptive Tennis

Defining Adaptive Tennis - Damian Wright, U.S. Marine Tennis Player

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From the USTA National Task Force: Defining Adaptive Tennis – USTA defining Adaptive Tennis for growing and diverse tennis population

The tennis player population is a diverse combination of shapes, sizes, abilities and limitations, each individual with a different ability to function, whether it be from a physical/ rehabilitative, social/ emotional or cognitive/developmental aspect( USTA Adaptive Definition).  The adaptive athlete presents a unique set of conditions for the tennis instructor, as they exist outside of the “mainstream” due to one or more conditions. The instruction and training must adapt to the specifics of the individual athlete, hence the term, Adaptive Tennis. 

The coach who trains Adaptive Tennis, needs to recognize the unique aspects of the individual player and adjust accordingly. There is no one standard method of teaching, nor one standard means of striking a tennis ball “correctly”, because the range of conditions which the Adaptive Player presents covers a vast array of parameters. The specific training will need to progress or regress from a initial screening baseline of ability. In that way, the instruction may be delivered with specific adjustments: equipment assistance ( larger or less dense balls, lighter/ shorter racquets),  positional alterations ( allowing 2 bounces before a point is over, starting from closer in or further back, using a partner, etc), or outcome challenges ( being able to touch a ball, hitting to specific targets, etc…) Drawing from the resources of cognitive development, personal training, physical therapy, or other assets, the coach will develop an individualized methodology for tennis training for each player. 

Gone are the days of “hitting” a forehand like Roger Federer, as if that ever did happen. Instead, the instructors must be innovative to alter the lesson to the needs of the student, progressing or regressing from a base level according to the parameters of the individual. If the student lacks spatial awareness and visual processing, they may require auditory or tactile cues to develop proper interception skills and the racquet stroke path.  In the case of a limb loss condition, adapting to a one handed backhand from a two handed stroke will increase the range of strike in a stroke. 

Adaptive Tennis is a means of using the game of tennis to develop confidence and self reliance, in individuals who would generally be considered “outliers”. Ultimately, it is not the primary goal to master the game of tennis in these Adaptive Players, but rather to increase their development as individuals with unique conditions.

The tennis athlete does not fit a common box. There are players with the potential to learn tennis who have specific physical, social, emotional or cognitive disabilities. Adaptive tennis seeks to train those individuals by adapting the teaching methodology to fit the needs of the individual player, whether they are a military veteran, amputee or exist on a cognitive spectrum. Adaptive Tennis US is based in the DC Metro area, and strives to make tennis a pathway for inclusivity. 

Note: we no longer train at the Kentlands because of individual complaints. We train at Quince Orchard Swim and Tennis Club and Lakelands Park Middle School. 

11:30 am -1:30 pm on Mondays. Other Adaptive Programs: Aceing Autism, Love Serving Autism, Wounded Warrior Tennis San Diego, see the newsletter which I sent to you and check the USYA Adaptive Tennis Program listing. 

If you would like to donate to Adaptive Tennis US, please Click Here

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