Different types of variability in tennis practice


  • Michael Davis Higuera




Variability, tennis practice, dynamic systems, differential learning


Variability is a term that is gaining traction in the tennis coaching world; traditional approaches which emphasise either a oneapproach-fits-all ‘text’-book’ model of instruction are being abandoned as a result of the acknowledgement that people have differences and the acknowledgement that even the top players show variability. This article summarises some of the different types of variability that might occur in tennis practice, and gives recommendations for coaches.


Download data is not yet available.


Buszard, T., Reid, M., Farrow, D. & Masters, R. (2013). Implicit motor learning; Designing practice for performance. ITF Coaching and Sports Science Review, 60(21), pp. 3-5.

Crespo, M. (2009) 'Tennis in the era of dynamic systems.' Journal of medicine and science in tennis, 14(2), pp. 20-25.

Davids, K., Button, C. and Bennett, S. (2008) Dynamics of skill acquisition: a constraints-led approach. Leeds;Champaign, Il;: Human Kinetics.

Davis-Higuera, M. (2018). Execution Redundancy Variability of Practice: The effects of high execution redundancy on recreational tennis player's forehand accuracy (Unpublished bachelor's dissertation). Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, United Kingdom.

Liao, C. M., & Masters, R. S. W. (2001). Analogy learning: a means to implicit motor learning. Journal of Sports Sciences, 19, 307- 319. https://doi.org/10.1080/02640410152006081

Masters, R. S. W., & Poolton, J. M. (2012). Advances in implicit motor learning. In N. J. Hodges, & A. M. Williams (Eds.). Skill acquisition in sport: Research, theory and practice, 2nd ed., (pp. 59-75). London, UK: Routledge.

Pankhurst, A. (2013). How tennis players learn motor skills: Some considerations. ITF Coaching and Sports Science Review, 60(21), pp. 6-7.

Ranganathan, R. and Newell, K. (2010) "Motor learning through induced variability at the task goal and execution redundancy levels", Journal of motor behaviour, 42(5) pp. 307-316.. https://doi.org/10.1080/00222895.2010.510542

Ranganathan, R. and Newell, K.M., (2013) 'Changing up the routine: intervention-induced variability in motor learning.' Exercise and sport sciences reviews, 41(1), pp.64-70. https://doi.org/10.1097/JES.0b013e318259beb5

Sanz, D. & Hernández, J. (2013). Application of variable practice to technique training in tennis, ITF Coaching and Sports Science Review, 60(21), pp. 21-23.

Schmidt, R. A. (1975) 'A schema theory of discrete motor skill learning.' Psychological review, 82(4) pp. 225-260. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0076770

Schmidt, R. A., Lee, T., Winstein, C., Wulf, G., & Zelaznik, H. (2018). Motor Control and Learning, 6E. Human kinetics.

Schollhorn, W. I., Beckmann, H., Michelbrink, M., Sechelmann, M., Trockel, M. and Davids, K. (2006) 'Does noise provide a basis for the unification of motor learning theories?' International journal of sport psychology, 37(2/3) p. 186.

Schöllhorn, W., Mayer-Kress, G., Newell, K. and Michelbrink, M. (2009) 'Time scales of adaptive behaviour and motor learning in the presence of stochastic perturbations.' Human movement science, 28(3) pp. 319-333. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.humov.2008.10.005

Seifert, L., Button, C. and Davids, K. (2013) 'Key Properties of Expert Movement Systems in Sport: An Ecological Dynamics Perspective.' Sports Medicine, 43(3) pp. 167-178. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-012-0011-z

Shea, J. B. and Morgan, R. L. (1979) 'Contextual interference effects on the acquisition, retention, and transfer of a motor skill.' Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning and Memory, 5(2) pp. 179-187. https://doi.org/10.1037/0278-7393.5.2.179

Unierzyski, P., Mieczysław, B., and Wheatley, S. (2018) 'Applied integrated training on-court - specific case studies: Is it a methodology of the future?' ITF Coaching and Sports Science Review, 75(26), pp. 31-33.



How to Cite

Higuera, M. D. (2018). Different types of variability in tennis practice. ITF Coaching & Sport Science Review, 26(76), 40–44. https://doi.org/10.52383/itfcoaching.v26i76.165




Most read articles by the same author(s)