Sunday, June 3, 2012

Keep It Deep

Yellow x's = cone locations
Red numbers = the four service locations
I first learned this game from Brian Clark at one of his USC-Lancaster Lancers summer camps. Originally it was a serve activity. I have used it often and have added some variations because its principles apply to other strokes as well.

Let's discuss the original first. It is a serve activity primarily designed to encourage deep serves. The way the scoring system is set up, it also helps players learn how to keep score.

You will need some cones. Place them inside the two service boxes, along a line about 18" from the service line.

Players get two balls per serve, just as in a real tennis game. They take turns serving from one of the four service locations at the baseline (out wide ad, center ad, center deuce, and out wide deuce). After each player has served two balls from each of the four locations, that is a complete round.

Points are awarded based on where the serve lands: 2 points for behind cones; 1 for in front of cones. Zero points for anything not in the correct service box. Whoever earns the most points per round wins that round and gets one point. In case of a tie, have a one serve playoff until someone wins that round. Added bonus fun: anyone hitting one of the target cones automatically wins that round.

Here's where it can get tricky: as you accumulate points, you are keeping score the same as if you were playing tennis. So one point would be 15. Two would be 30, three would be 40, and four would be a complete game. Players compete to see how many 'games' they can win. Activity can either be timed or completed when one player wins 6 'games', which would be a complete set in real tennis.

A deep ball is a good ball regardless of if it is a serve, a forehand, a backhand, a volley, an overhead, etc. You can make this activity work for any of these strokes by adjusting your cones/markers. So if you are working on deep forehands, place the cones 18-24" inside the baseline. Cross court returns? No problem - restrict play to the deuce or ad half of the court.

Adjust this flexible game to fit your needs. Just remember to give extra points for the deeper targets.