Place cones 6-10 feet from the back fence of the court. They should be a safe distance away from each other. Balance one ball on each cone. Players must hit the ball off the cone and into the fence. If it hits the fence before it bounces, they earn one point.
My alterations were:
- I added two spots/markers: one at the cone and one 5-6 feet behind the cone. The one near the cone was to remind the players where they should be standing when they hit the ball. They had no problem with understanding where to stand on the forehands, but when we switched to backhands, they kept forgetting. The second spot was a Waiting Spot for safety reasons. Without it, they were so excited for their turn to hit and earn a pin (see below), they were crowding the cone and in danger of getting hit on the hitting player's backswing. A good problem to have!
- Second big alteration was the addition of clothespins to help them keep score. This added much enjoyment to the game, as usually happens with the introduction of competition. Whoever had the most pins at the end of the activity was the winner. We had three different rounds, each ending when the hopper was emptied.
Check out those pins!
This simple activity offers many opportunities for teaching moments. For example:
- We started 6-8 feet from the back fence. As they warmed up and were performing this task easily, I moved them farther back. Much whining and complaining about making it harder, but of course they actually relished the challenge. We did three different rounds: Round 1 was forehands with a progression farther back from the fence; Round 2 was backhands; and Round 3 we moved to the 36-foot court. Points only awarded if ball went over net. You could add a challenge here also by insisting the ball be hit within play (rather than just anywhere over the net).
- Insist on correct point of contact and finish. Remind them it is okay to hit the cone with the racquet as they swing, otherwise you will see some very weird wrist contortions as they try to cup the ball without touching the cone!