Sunday, April 15, 2012

Call It!

In? or Out?
Remember, 99% out is 100% in . . .
This is an activity I just saw demonstrated at the PTR Symposium in Orlando at one of Jorge Capestany's sessions. Mr. Capestany rocks. He is a mighty fount of tennis knowledge. He has a great website here. If you ever have the opportunity to hear him speak, do it. As I continue adding posts to this blog you will see his name pop up frequently as the source for many great tennis instruction activities. I bow to him. I Am Not Worthy.

However.

This is one of those activities I mentioned in my introduction to this blog, that look/sound good on paper but don't deliver in reality. I saw it demonstrated and really liked the idea. I have used it twice this week and while it did work somewhat, I have a couple of caveats. So here's the activity.

The idea is to teach players how to watch the ball and be able to call them 'in' or 'out' properly. Jorge had the kids line up in the alley. He then went across the net and tossed a ball over the net. They were to watch it carefully, and when it finally bounced into 'out' territory, the kids were to yell 'out!' together. This worked well in the demonstration because the kids were ringers and knew very well the difference between 'in' and 'out'.

With my red and orange ball classes, things were not so straightforward. The kids were confused about the multiple bounces before the ball got into 'out' territory, as well they should be. After all, they have been trained (by ME) from Day 1 that we only get ONE bounce in tennis. So they were wondering why all of a sudden we now care what happens after that first bounce. Once I explained about the multiple bounces for this activity only, they quickly figured it out.

Once that got straightened out, I found this exercise very useful to me to indicate who is having trouble understanding what is In and what is Out - you can tell by the little voices that call the ball either incorrectly or way before or way after everyone else. I will continue to use this activity with one change - I will toss the ball in such a way that the first bounce is either in or out, and avoid multiple bounces before the ball gets into Out territory.