Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Happy Feet

Enjoy USA women's soccer team keeper Hope Solo
demonstrating some extremely happy feet
in this video.
If you have attended a QuickStart or Recreational Coaches Workshop, you know about  Happy Feet. Happy Feet is keeping your feet moving quickly up and down, as if the tennis court was bongo drums and you were playing them with your feet instead of your hands.  In many of the tennis drills taught at the workshops, Happy Feet is a given and we are encouraged to remind the players frequently to keep their feet moving. In addition to a quick demo by the coach and encouraging the players to follow suit, you can also incorporate some fun activities that emphasize Happy Feet.

I first heard about this activity from Kim Ozmon, my BFF at Rock Hill Tennis Center. I think she calls it Alligator. Have your players line up against the fence. You and your trusty ball cart are facing them 10 or so feet away, maybe at the baseline if your facility has plenty of room between baseline and fence. Instruct the players to hop up and down as you quickly roll balls in their direction. Anyone who gets hit with a ball must hop on one foot. Anyone getting hit twice is out and may join you in rolling balls. Last remaining player is the winner. Kim tells me this game is very popular, especially with younger players. I have used it and I agree they think it is great fun.

A progression for Alligator resembles those old Westerns where the villain makes the good guy 'dance' by shooting at his feet. Have your players stand ready with racquets in hand. From across the net, hand-feed balls near their feet and have them adjust their positions to avoid being hit. Remember, safety first! So give them enough time between feeds to reset and clear any balls that may pose a danger.

My boss also uses Happy Feet as part of other tennis drills to eliminate players (or keep the playing field equal). In just about any activity you are using, in addition whatever skill they are working on, require the players to maintain Happy Feet throughout. Any player caught flat-footed may be eliminated, regardless of how great their tennis shots are.