It's camouflaged as a bunch of rowdy fun, but Jail Break does offer some hidden teaching opportunities. At its heart it is another exercise in consistency. Also excellent for ball tracking skills.
- All players line up single file on far side of court.
- Coach is across the net at about the service line.
- Coach feeds ball across net.
- Player hits ball. If ball lands in playable area across net, they are safe and go to end of line. If anything other than a playable ball is hit, player goes to Jail. They must relinquish their racquet and come over to the coach's side of the court.
- Last player left on the free side of the court who hits safely is the winner.
There is a catch (Ha. Ha.) - while in Jail, players may regain their freedom by catching any playable ball in the air. If they do catch a ball, they are released from jail and return to the hitting side of the court. The player whose ball they caught then comes to Jail.
Safety tip: jailed players should stand no closer to the net than even with coach (as I mentioned earlier, at about the service line). You don't want them up at the net getting beaned either from a fed or a hit ball.
- Caught ball may be caught in the air or after one bounce.
- In order to prolong the game, Coach may stage a Jail Break at any time. Prefer doing this with low compression balls only. Coach yells 'Jail Break!' and starts throwing balls (gently) at any players in Jail. Jailed players make a break for the free side. Any players hit must remain in Jail.
- Coach's choice on offering a second chance at a fed ball. I usually only offer one chance unless I feed an absolutely horrendous feed.
Jail Break is a great activity for large groups of varying abilities. The great equalizer: spice up the game by feeding more difficult balls to the stronger players.
Keep up a lively pace, having the players hustling back and forth and feeding quickly but safely.
I have also heard this game called by the kinder, gentler name of Dog Pound. But most of my players prefer the traditional name, and I agree.