Monday, February 25, 2013

Escalator

Another fun activity from evolve9's presentation at the PTR 10 and Under Tennis Conference. Escalator is actually the name of the rotation, but we will co-opt it for the name of this activity as well. It is great for large groups of varying skill levels.

Divide players into teams. Players line up in any old order by team, and are sent off to play in groups of four - two pairs of players from each team per court. However, they will not be playing doubles. One at a time, they play each other in singles, two points per pair with each player serving once. First team to 5 points wins.

Keep in mind multiple courts are playing, so before each round, all players must wait until all courts are ready before starting. As soon as Coach gives the go ahead, play begins. As soon as any court reaches 5 points, they call out '5' or 'Done' or whatever to indicate they are finished. Coach stops play for all courts. Whoever is ahead at that time wins.

Now here's where it could get tricky - the rotation. Prior to sending the players out, Coach has designated one end of the courts as the Escalator. When round is complete, Escalator side moves 'up' a court. Other end of court does not move. This results in fresh pairings for each round. If you have excess players, they just rotate in in an orderly fashion. For example Escalator players on end court rotate out and go to end of waiting line as leftover players on opposite end court rotate in.

This rotation sounds easy but in my experience the tricky part is determining which direction is 'up' at your facility. Some staff/volunteers may assume 'up' is moving to the next higher numbered court (from court 11 to court 12). Others may assume 'up'  means court 1 is your ultimate goal, so moving 'up' may in fact mean moving from court 11 to court 10. Whatever you choose is fine as long as everyone moves the same direction on the rotation!

We played this game on small courts with mini nets and foam balls. However, if you have enough courts, it is easily adapted to any size court/ball. Also note the Escalator rotation, like its namesake people mover, does not reward nor does it punish - it just moves people from point A to point B. So you can use it in any activity where you want to keep the pairings fresh and advancing to a winning court is not a consideration.