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Tennis Wales

VI Tennis online coaching course

• 3 MINUTE READ

A new course has been launched to help tennis coaches play their role in boosting the number of blind and partially sighted people participating in the sport.

VI Tennis coaching

Leading sight loss charity British Blind Sport has partnered with England’s national governing body for tennis, the LTA and coaching charity, UK Coaching, to create a bespoke online training package to give coaches at all levels more confidence at helping those with sight loss to pursue the sport as a hobby or career.

A bespoke tennis training session teaches coaches how to include those with sight loss in classes with their fully sighted peers - including the importance of providing detailed commentary on their surroundings and what is happening around them – from walking out of the changing room to stepping out on court and playing itself.

The session explains how to identify tennis techniques that are appropriate to teach according to one’s level of sight, and also recommends hands-on tactile demonstrations when teaching participants new warm-up or tennis techniques, and how to track the noise of the tennis ball.

The bespoke tennis training is complemented by generic training around sight loss and how it affects participants, creating engaging environments, and venue accessibility to name a few.

The new e-learning sessions feed into the See Sport Differently campaign that British Blind Sport has partnered with RNIB on, which shows that one in two blind and partially sighted people feel that having sight loss stops them from exercising as much as they would like to, with one in three saying there are sports they want to try but have been unable to.

Frankie Rohan, Workforce Officer at British Blind Sport, has worked closely with the LTA and UK Coaching on creating the four-hour training course.

Frankie is herself severely sight impaired, and recently coached Great Britain’s B1 tennis team at the 2023 International Blind Sport Federation World Games.

She said: “As a charity that is striving to break down sporting barriers for those with sight loss, we know first-hand that tennis is one of the sports that blind and partially sighted people are keen to participate in, but having enough confident coaches is key to helping blind and partially sighted people take that first step out onto the court.

“So many sports coaches across various sports tell us that they do not feel confident teaching an individual with sight loss because they don’t want to say the wrong thing or don’t know how to integrate them into a session safely and appropriately – and this new course has a crucial role to play in changing that.

“We also want to encourage a shift in mindset that blind and partially-sighted people aren’t just there to have a nice time – they should also be given the opportunity to fulfil their potential to try and compete competitively if they so wish – and the training course informs coaches how they can go about this.

“From the perspective of someone with sight loss, the mark of a good coach is one who isn’t afraid to ask questions, can articulate well, listens, and provides challenging and engaging sessions to foster development and improvement – and that is what we are hoping emerges on tennis courts up and down the country over the coming months.

“It’s fantastic to have the LTA and UK Coaching supporting this initiative, and we are excited about the impact that these new training courses are going to have for both current and future generations.”

The training course – the first sport-specific sight loss e-learning course - will be promoted by the LTA to help support their coaches/workforce across the UK.

Matt Elkington, Disability Development Partner at the LTA, said: “The LTA is excited to support the production of this brand new online course in partnership with British Blind Sport and UK Coaching.

“Our vision is tennis opened and our mission is to transform communities through tennis, making it more inspiring, welcoming and enjoyable. Ensuring disabled people can access and enjoy tennis without any barriers is central to this vision and reflected in our Open For All plan.

“This new online course, will not only drive more coaches to take a lead on visually impaired tennis but will also see more players able to access a high-quality VI tennis sessions, no matter where they are in the UK.”

Find out more about coaching blind and partially sighted people in tennis

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