Effects of an 8-week constraints-based coaching intervention on emergent behaviour in Mini Tennis

STONE, Joseph, FITZPATRICK, Anna and DAVIDS, Keith (2017). Effects of an 8-week constraints-based coaching intervention on emergent behaviour in Mini Tennis. In: Second Scientific Conference on Motor Skill Acquisition, Finland, 15th-17th November 2017. (Unpublished)

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Introduction: The benefits of manipulating task constraints (e.g. court dimensions and ball compression) in tennis for the purpose of enhancing young participants’ skill development have been well-documented (Buszard et al., 2016). Despite this, modified versions of the sport, such as the Lawn Tennis Association’s Mini Tennis Red, may not afford participants sufficient opportunities to perform and develop the backhand groundstroke (Fitzpatrick et al., 2016). The aim of this study was to afford backhand development during Mini Tennis Red coaching by introducing an 8-week intervention, during which constraints-based adaptations were applied to the experimental group’s learning environment aimed to develop backhand groundstrokes. Method: Two groups; control (n = 8, age = 7.2 ± 0.6 years, tennis playing experience = 1.9 ± 0.6 years) and experimental (n = 8, age 7.4 ± 0.4 years, tennis playing experience = 2.1 ± 0.6 years) underwent an 8-week coaching intervention, during which constraints-based adaptations (manipulating internal court dimensions, the location of participants’ recovery boxes and practice match-play rules) were applied to the experimental group’s learning environment. Pre- and post-test match-play characteristics (e.g. forehand and backhand percentages, winner and error percentages) and Tennis-Specific Skills Test results (e.g. forehand and backhand technical proficiency, rally performance with a coach) were analysed. Results: Following the intervention, both groups improved their ability to maintain a rally during match-play (Control: pre 4.5 ± 1.6, post 5.2 +1.9; Experimental: 5.3 ± 1.9, post 5.9 ± 1.2, p < 0.001). However, the experimental group performed a greater percentage of backhands out of total shots (46.7 ± 3.3%) and a greater percentage of backhand winners out of total backhands (5.5 ± 3.0%) than the control group during match-play (backhands = 22.4 ± 6.5%, p < 0.001; backhand winners = 1.0 ± 3.6%, p < 0.01). The experimental group also demonstrated superior improvements in backhand technical proficiency (experimental group, 4.0 points improvement; control 0.8 points improvement, p <0.001). Finally, the experimental group improved their ability to maintain a rally with a coach (control group improved by 2.9 strokes compared to 7.6 stokes improvement for the experimental group, p < 0.05). Conclusion: The manipulations implemented here elicited more representative emergent behaviour than standard Mini Tennis Red constraints. Coaches may wish to utilise these adaptations during their coaching sessions, to augment players’ technical and tactical development, and negate the disparity between the number of forehands and backhands typically performed during training and match-play.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Centre for Sports Engineering Research
Departments: Health and Well-being > Sport
Depositing User: Joseph Stone
Date Deposited: 10 Jan 2018 14:52
Last Modified: 27 Jan 2018 20:59
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/17385

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