Friday, May 31, 2013

Overload

Yikes! If the racquets get this full, maybe break into
two or three smaller groups!
Summer tennis camps are just around the corner. Quality coaches are organizing lesson plans like mad. If they're not, they're the OTHER coaches who are using the same tired dead ball feeding drills, finishing camp with a half-hearted game of Dog Pound. After hours of dead ball feeds, the campers think Dog Pound is the best thing since yellow tennis balls, and who can blame them? I Can. Don't Be That Coach! Get Googling for some fresh tennis activities - like Overload.

My boss encourages us to combine quality fundamentals with fresh new on-court activities. He led a summer camp refresher training session for all summer camp instructors last week. Overload was one of the many gems he shared with us. He didn't have a name for it so as usual I am taking the liberty. Great for all ages and abilities; a good icebreaker; and all you need is players, racquets, and one ball per player.

Players form a circle facing inward. Each player balances one ball in the middle of their racquet strings. Coach either begins activity or designates starter. Starter passes his/her ball to next player. That player now has two balls on his/her racquet. Repeat around circle. Number of balls will accumulate, making the pass more challenging with each player. Goal is to make it all the way around the circle without dropping any balls.

Will there be some dropped balls? Probably. Will everyone be rooting for everyone else to succeed? Probably. If any balls are dropped, have the players retrieve, put back on racquet and pass them singly. This should be light-hearted, not punishment.

Once all balls have made it to the final player, and just when all think the game is over, have them keep passing so that the players who began the game with only one or two balls to pass now have to 'feel the pain' of the players farther along in the circle to had to manage more balls. Go all the way around again with the total number of balls.

For a conclusion to this activity with a little flair, coach or last player can fling all balls accumulated onto their racquet into the air.