From Federer to Pogba: why you should be considering a multi-sport practice wall

Catherine Robson, head of education at REBO, shares the power of a multi-sport wall for your school

What connects Roger Federer, David Beckham, Novak Djokovic, Paul Pogba, Maria Sharapova, Venus and Serena Williams, Denis Bergkamp, Glen Hoddle, Geoff Hurst, Caroline Wozniacki, Victoria Azarenka, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Simone Halep, Björn Bjorg and Andy Murray?

They’ve all reached the highest echelons of sporting success – but there’s something else…

Every single one of them (and many more) have publicly credited playing and practicing against a wall as critical in their development – when they got started as children or as performance athletes.

But, why is a practice wall so important?

The science of repetition and the power of practice

Standing in front of his childhood wall in Serbia, the 17-time Grand Slam Champion, Novak Djokovic posted a video saying: “The best sparring partner you can have is a wall. Trust me, it never misses.”

There are hundreds of drills on a wall for all ball sports from tennis, football and rugby to netball and lacrosse. Whether you’re rallying, throwing or practicing your first-touches, with a practice wall as your reliable partner, you can reach up to 2,000 repetitions in an hour.

Compare that to a lesson or match. If you’ve seen two beginners play tennis – you know they may only get a handful of opportunities to hit the ball, and most of that is chance.

The best sparring partner you can have is a wall. Trust me, it never misses

In his seminal book, ‘Bounce: The myth of talent and the power of practice’, Matthew Syed uncovers that ‘purposeful practice’ was the only factor distinguishing the best from the rest – further proving the case for Malcom Gladwell’s well-regarded 10,000 hour rule (where research suggests that you need 10,000 hours of practice to become world-class in any field).

Imagine how the 10,000 hour rule changes for ball sports when 70% of your time might be spent collecting balls or waiting your turn in a drill or time to shine on the pitch.

Dr Peter Bain, world-leading neurologist at Imperial College, London adds weight to the argument with his research saying that: “Isolated Repetitive Training is extremely important to quickly developing skills.”

It’s not just about performance-driven ‘purposeful practice’ or ‘isolated repetitive training’ – a practice wall is about discovery learning and freedom to play.

Performance and play – building skills and confidence

REBO’s ambassadors include Judy Murray OBE, Leon Smith OBE (top tennis coach and GB Davis Cup captain), Sven Groeneveld (world-touring coach and former coach to Maria Sharapova, Caroline Wozniacki and more) and Nick Bollettieri (coaching legend who coached Andre Agassi, the Williams sisters and many others to win over 120 Grand Slams tournaments between them).

These leading sporting figures advocate REBO walls for performance players to get the competitive edge – as well as for children and adults at every age and stage. In their long careers, they’ve seen how ‘having a go’ and learning for yourself is a route to enjoying and continuing with a sport.

Using a REBO wall, children discover a ‘feel’ for the ball. They have so much fun, they don’t realise they’re developing new skills such as hand-eye coordination, accuracy or footwork.

Free from expectation and competition – with no right or wrong way to play – children build their skills, confidence and see fast improvements, which only spurs on their enthusiasm to continue.

Practice walls are great for groups and pairs, but what would a practice wall mean to those children in your school who have a more solitary learning style?

Could you have the next Beckham or Sharapova in your midst – or could you simply foster a joy for a sport that sets them up to lead a healthy and active life?

Transforming spaces and creating opportunities – without the need for a court or pitch

In a school, you have to prioritise resources and investment, and therefore sports, but what about those students who don’t fit within the tracks you create? Or how do you provide the necessary opportunities for children to get in those hours of practice?

Multi-sport REBO walls are a simple way to transform a space and create opportunity to play almost any ball sport – without the need for a court or pitch. The angled-surfaces create a realistic trajectory for the ball and they can be installed quickly in playgrounds, MUGAs or halls, with no need for disruptive foundations and the option to re-site if needed.

You might even want to create multiple dedicated practice alleys for your students and for hire.

Thousands of people are using REBO walls around the world to get started, get fit or get the edge – in schools, homes, clubs, communities and even on a superyacht. But as all those famous players suggest, it’s more than a wall.

We’re leading a global movement with an inspiring community, known as the REBOlution, to lower barriers, create more opportunities and inspire children and adults to be active and play using walls.

Will you join us?

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