Friday, April 6, 2012

Learning the Court

Diagram found at tennistips.org
I may not run lines at every class, but I do use this one often with new classes/students. It is an easy and effective way to teach them the various parts of the court and saves me time in the long run. If I do this from the beginning, I avoid time wasted explaining where I want them to stand or target in subsequent activities and drills.

At our initial meetings they must know a few simple parts of the court: the net (a gimme), the baseline, and the service line. Just three. When I say one of those three parts, they must go there. Ideally they must run there. Once they have this figured out on one half of the court, I point out to them that there are duplicate parts on the other side of the net, and include those in our game by saying 'other baseline', 'other service line', etc. The quick minds figure this out and eventually I don't have to say 'other' because they know either of the baselines/service lines is the correct location to run to.

At the next meeting we go over these three and add the alley and the service boxes. Once these five are second nature, usually at the third meeting, I add the T, the hash mark, deuce side, ad side, and finally, No Man's Land.

When I first saw this activity, there was an added component of incentive to speed. In other words there was a penalty for being the last one to the location. The penalty was to call out the latecomer and have him/her do some silly activity in front of the group. Suggested silly activities were silly jumping jacks, donkey kicks, making silly faces or noises, etc. IMO these do more harm than good. Occasionally you will have a class clown in the group who loves being the center of attention. But in my experience a) this is rare - tennis does not seem to attract many class clowns; and b) if you do have a class clown, they will deliberately arrive last at each location to get another chance to perform in front of the group.  Additinally, the non-clowns run like the hounds of hell are after them to avoid being called up and publicly humiliated in front of their peers. So I dispense with the penalty altogether. I just call the parts with authority, and they seem to know without me telling them to get there quickly - lots of hustle. If they are not hustling I definitely urge them on.