Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Team Triples

Team Triples is a twist on the Triples game, a player favorite. I saw it mentioned in the August 2014 issue of Tennis Industry Magazine. I love their idea of making it a team format for a tournament. I especially love the idea of playing it with orange balls!


To recap how Triples works: there are three players on each end of court forming a triangle - one at the T, and two at the baseline where the singles sideline intersects with the baseline. Players self-feed with a bounce feed. Both sides rotate one position after every point. Full court (including alleys) is played. First team to X wins.

Using a slower ball on a full 78-foot court introduces a fitness element. Having the players self-feed introduces a strategy and directional control element.

The article did not give details about who feeds or how, other than suggesting players feed rather than coaches. When we play regular Triples, I usually feed straight ahead to the player across the net from me at the deuce side baseline. We play first to X, best two out of three, and the players rotate positions after every point, so someone new is always getting the feed. I suggest a similar strategy here so that a different person is serving every point. So consider whomever has rotated into the deuce side baseline position the feeder. Avoid having the player at the T as feeder.

As for scorekeeping, because you are rotating players after every point, I would go with a 'first to X' or rather than a traditional 15-30-40 scoring method. If using a 'first to X' scoring strategy, alternate teams feeding with each new game. If you want to play timed rounds, you don't need to have an end point to the game. Whichever team has the most points at the end of the timed round, wins. But with this scoring strategy, you may want to alternate which team is feeding with every point, so that one team is not feeding the entire timed round.

No need to organize a big tournament to enjoy this activity. Consider using this as a warm-up if you have six or more players in your group. If more than six, that's fine - just have the extras rotating in since there is a rotation after every point and things move pretty quickly.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Nine Lives

I found this game on the Tennis Resources site. They had it in a doubles format, but I can see
using it in a variety of ways.

Teams start out with nine points each. Coach feeds in the first ball. Players play out the point. Losing team loses a 'life'. Play continues until one team is out of lives. Play best two out of three, with coach feeding a different team each round.

How about this singles variation, especially if you have odd numbers or a larger group: One player is on one end alone; all others are at the other end. One by one, they take on the singleton. All players begin with 9 Lives, losing one each time they lose a point. Player with the most lives when someone gets down to zero is the new singleton.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Volley Control Drill

Lauren Stewart's third suggestion for 2.5 drills is this volley drill. In addition to consistency and backhand skills, she said beginners need to work on their volley skills. You will need some throw down targets.

Players pair up away from the net, facing each other 5-10 feet apart. One partner will be tossing balls for the other to volley. The throw down target should be just in front of the volleying partner as a reminder to take a step forward with each volley (make sure they recover after hitting). First team to get to X in a row, wins. Change roles and repeat.

Note only one ball per team is used. If they miss, they have to chase down their ball. Great for warming up!

Progression

  • Use net between partners
  • All forehands
  • All backhands 
  • First ball racquet fed, not hand tossed
  • Score resets to zero if any misses


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Four Square Jr.

Four Square is a ball machine drill by Inaki Balzola in a recent issue of Tennis Pro magazine. If you
don't have access to a ball machine, YOU are the ball machine :)

Balls are fed from the T. Feeds alternate between ad and deuce baseline. Players are on opposite baseline in two lines (deuce and ad). Place a cone or spot at the hash mark between them.

Opposite end of court is divided into four spaces. Ad service box is #1. Deuce service box is #2. Ad back court is #3. Deuce back court is #4.

Each player in line hits four balls, recovering to touch cone target after every hit. Player cannot hit into the same numbered square twice in a row. Player gets one point for every square hit, unless they hit the same square twice in a row, in which case they get ZERO points for that turn.

Play for a set time period or until machine/hopper is empty. Player with most points wins.

Variations

  • Subtract a point for hitting into the net.
  • Points earned equal square hit into. 1 point for square 1, 2 points for square 2, etc.
  • Extra points, or instant winner, for hitting all four squares in order 1-2-3-4.
  • All shots must be forehands, backhands, slice, topspin, whatever you want to work on that day.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Breakout

No, it's not Ebola, or acne. Breakout is my own mash-up of Jailbreak and Net Monster.

All players begin on one baseline. Coach feeds ball to one player at a time. If player misses, he/she comes over to coach's side and plays at the net. If net player hits a winner, he/she is back in line.

You can accommodate 5-6 players at net safely on 60- or 78-foot court; 4-5 on 36-foot court max. If you get more than this, don't do it - it isn't safe. Just have the extra players wait until a spot opens up for them when another player hits a winner and rejoins the line.

Goal is to be the last player standing on the original end (not the net side) and hit a ball in that is not intercepted by the net players.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Consistency Rally

Here's another rally drill from Lauren Stewart at The Woodlands. Again, suggested for 2.5 players but perfect for beginners of all ages. Another trait of 2.5 players is that they lack consistency. There's a drill for that. :)

Players pair up with a partner across the net and cross court. Play within the singles lines. Pairs/teams earn one point for every five ball rally achieved. First team to 5 points, wins. Switch sides (not ends) so players can get proficient on both sides of court.

If you have odd numbers of players, divide into teams and have them rotating in for whoever makes the error.

Progression
Play within service boxes with red or orange balls for easiest or for a good warm-up.
Start on 60 foot court with orange ball; progress to full court with green, then yellow balls.
Allow alleys. Two points for any ball landing in alley.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Backhand Rally

Here's the first of several drills from the recent USTA South Carolina coaches workshop at Cayce
Tennis & Fitness Center. This one is from Lauren Stewart, tennis pro at The Woodlands in Columbia SC.

Lauren's presentation was about drills for womens' teams of various levels. But I found all could easily be adapted for junior players.

Lauren had her drills organized by playing level: 2.5, 3.0-3.5, and 4.0. She said 2.5s often struggle with or avoid hitting their backhands, so she suggested this drill to build skill and confidence.

Partners pair up across the net from each other, behind the service line. One player may only hit backhands. The other may hit any shot they like. Players rally straight ahead. Ball must land in service box. If the designated backhand hitter hits something other than a backhand, that's a point for the other player. First to X points wins. Round Two: switch to hitting cross court.

Progression: move farther back or switch to a faster ball. For examply if you are hitting orange ball, change to green.