Saturday, April 7, 2012

Dynamic Warm-ups

Butt Kicks
Running lines is probably the most time-honored way to warm up prior to a tennis lesson. But you know how I feel about running lines all the time. Just to shake things up, I have been on the lookout for other ways to get the kids moving before they pick up their racquets.

Butt Kicks and High Knees- I have seen these in many workshops as well as training videos. The younger kids always giggle when I say the b-word or what sounds like 'heinie' so that's a plus. Pretty simple - just have them start at the baseline and run to the net and back with these two movements.

High Knees
images from triathlon.competitor.com
  • Butt kicks - heel must touch derriere with every step. 
  • High knees are the opposite of the butt kicks - knee must be raised 90 degrees or higher with every step.
Hop/Sprint - I think I saw this one on the Dynamic Warmup video which BTW if you don't own this, get it now. Very good stuff here. Anyway - player starts at doubles sideline. With both feet together, player makes very quick jumps in front of, then behind, sideline. When I say Go!, player switches from this quick hopping movement to a sprint to the far sideline.

Zig-zags - running baseline to net and back, players zig-zag using their shuffle step at a slight angle alternating to their right, then to their left.

I saw the next two activities in tennis.com magazine a few years ago

Ground stroke sprints - beginning at baseline hash mark, player moves quickly to a spot near the deuce side singles sideline and 2-3 steps inside baseline using a shuffle step. Then back to hash mark. Repeat to ad side. Player is basically tracing a wide V shape on the court with the bottom of the V being the hash mark and the tops being on the deuce and ad sides. This is to simulate moving to an out-wide ball, then recovering to the center baseline. I ask them to do a shadow swing of a forehand on the deuce side and backhand on the ad side (reverse this if your player is a lefty).

Volley sprints - same idea as groundie sprints but begin at service T. Move forward at an angle to middle of deuce side service box, shadow volley, back to T, repeat to ad side, shadow volley, back to T.

This one I just learned from a session by Jorge Capestany at the PTR Symposium in Orlando. It gets the quads firing.

X Marks the Spot - embellish the above sprint drills by making the hash mark or the service T the center of an imaginary X rather than a V. Player does the same movements but adds a sprint to a location behind the recovery point on each side as well. So for ground strokes, start at the hash mark. Run to forward diagonal location on deuce side. Recover to hash. Sprint to rearward diagonal location on deuce side. Recover to hash. Repeat on ad side. Remember your shadow swings at each tip of the X. This benefits greatly from a few spots thrown down when students are first learning the drill. As Chuck Kriese says, 'if your legs ain't burnin', you ain't learnin'".

For the above three sprint drills, if I have a small group I have each player give me a certain amount of reps or a timed amount of running the activity. For a large group I have them running one rep each and rotating through the activity quickly. You can run the ground stroke and volley sprints simultaneously since they are shadow swinging and you don't have to worry about live balls.