Tuesday, April 24, 2012

105: Clever or Confusing?

This game was included in a very fine presentation on games for 10 and Under Tennis by Aaron Fox at the 2012 PTR Symposium in Orlando. I have seen it before at other training sessions. I have never used it, and here's why: although the concept is sound and it worked during Aaron's presentation, I think the scoring is too nonsensical and detracts from the enjoyment of the game (why 105 and not 100?). I have see adults stutter and stammer their way through this activity, more focused on trying to figure out the mental math than they are on hitting the ball. Sure, if you keep at it long enough, the players may figure it out. But in my experience if something isn't fun right away, you will lose their interest, they will get bored, stop trying, etc. Double everything I just said if your students are 10 and Under!

A word here about drills you see performed in professional presentations. They always run smoothly, don't they? And for good reason. The presenter is there to give you as much quality information as possible in a brief amount of time. If he has volunteers helping demonstrate the activity, they are either friends/colleagues/students familiar with the activity, or adult volunteers from the audience. Either way, their experience will be markedly different from your group of 8-year-olds trying anything for the first time. I'm just sayin'.

So here's how 105 works: Object of the game is to be the first team to win 105 points. Points are awarded as follows:
  • Groundstroke winner: 5
  • Volley winner: 10
  • Overhead winner: 20
  • Errors: 1 point for other team
Switch ends once one team has earned 50 points.

Much easier?
And by 'winner' we mean that ball is untouched by the opposition. So if the opponent hits a volley winner, and you stretch for it and make any contact at all (even if you net it or hit out), the team hitting that ball only gets 1 point (for your error) instead of 10 (for a clean winner).

This game can be played by groups or teams in relay fashion, with the player losing the point rotating out and replaced by a different teammate.

A particularly fun aspect of this game: when it looks like one team is running away with the game, coach can change up the rules to help even things out. For example, winning team must hit all backhands, or all of their balls must be hit deeper than service line. You might think the winning team would resent this erosion of their lead, but they seem to appreciate the challenge. Heaven knows the losing team certainly appreciates it! Seriously, this is a great way to keep the game going for as long as you want it to go without one team getting hammered over and over again.

I like this game and I really want it to work. Next time I try it I might just shrink it down to 21 with points given being 1, 2, and 3 instead of 5, 10 and 20.