Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Champion Builders

This warm-up is familiar in most sports, is known by other names ('suicides' being one, but that is a little too macho and fatalistic for my taste) and has endless variations. At its core, it is any warm-up that begins with a  basic movement central to your sport and adds repetitions to improve execution of said movement and improve fitness. Here's how I use them in tennis.

My Champion Builders focus on the sidestep. Multiple players can perform CBs at the same time as long as they are spaced safely apart. Players begin on the outermost (doubles) sideline of the court, facing the net. They should have their eyes across the net, focusing on their imaginary opponent/the oncoming ball; not on their feet, on you, or their classmates. They should be standing with feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly flexed.They sidestep (in a straight line parallel to the net) to the nearest line which is the singles sideline. Then they sidestep back to the starting point. Repeat, going to the middle service line, then back to the starting point. On to the far singles line, then back to starting point. Finish by sidestepping all the way across to the far doubles sideline, then back.

Arms: hold an imaginary racquet in 'ready position' throughout exercise.

  • Progression: hold actual racquet in 'ready position' throughout exercise. Make sure students are spaced safely apart.


Direction: repeat entire series, this time facing the back of the court
Balance: before reversing direction and returning to the starting point, balance on outer leg for a count of five
Coordination: While sidestepping completely across court, after every three sidesteps, clap hands and turn 180 degrees so that they are alternating facing net, then facing baseline. Step-step-step-clap/turn, step-step-step-clap/turn. There should be a quick hop to make the 180 degree turn as they are clapping.

Recovery drill: begin exercise in middle of court rather than at sidelines. Sidestep to deuce singles sideline, then back to center. Sidestep to ad singles sideline, then back to center. Number of repetitions is up to you!
  • Recovery drill progression: Instructor or other student stands in front of class with back to class, holding a ball in one hand. He/she holds ball out to his/her left or right and class must move that direction with sidestep and appropriate shadow swing. This will improve focus forward and moving with the ball.
  • Progression: add shadow swings (forehand on deuce side, backhand on ad side) 
  • Progression: hold actual racquet. Make sure students are spaced safely apart.
  • Progression: perform shadow swings with actual racquet
Carioca: substitute the Carioca or 'grapevine' footwork for the sidestep