Monday, September 17, 2012

5 Points

5 Points from the air
Hence the name
If you are a PTR certified tennis professional or have attended any USTA-sponsored coaching workshops in the last couple of years, you probably already know we are being asked to abandon the old style of tennis instruction where students stand in lines waiting in turns to hit balls fed one at a time by the pro all the way over there across the court. "No Laps, No Lines, No Lectures" is the new mantra. I support this most of the time. Standing in line is boring, and hitting a dead ball feed has little resemblance to what the player will see during a live match. However.

Sometimes players need some repetition just to get comfortable with what they are expected to learn. Quick example: I had some orange ball players just moving out of beginner status. They were able to rally and play but their technique left a little to be desired. So we spent one lesson focusing on swing path and point of contact, which meant I spent a good deal of time feeding them dead balls to let them experiment with the new technique. I was very pleased with the results. Sure, they stood in one spot for 15-20 minutes and did nothing but bang balls back to me. But by the time we finished, their forehands looked ten times better.

So I put together this simple blend of dead ball feeds and action to improve results and player experience when you feel some dead ball feeds are called for. BTW I named it after a popular retail area in downtown Columbia, SC. Go Cocks!

Assign players numbers so that they know whose turn it is in the rotation. Player One is the first to receive the dead ball feeds. All other players are behind the cart retrieving balls. After Player One has had 5 tries, he/she rotates over to ball retrieval and Player Two is now hitting feeds. Continue until all players have had their turns, cart is empty, mission is accomplished, whatever. Feed quickly and keep them moving and active - no slacking on retrieval duty. Encourage all players to get all 5 of their chances over the net and in play. This can easily be adapted to a point competition.

Variation: Rather than having a maximum of 5 balls, hitting player stays until they make a mistake.