Monday, September 30, 2013

Set at the Net

This drill is from an article in TennisPro magazine by Jorge Capestany, PTR and USPTA Master Professional. I have been fortunate to attend a few of Jorge's presentations at PTR conferences. He knows a ton of great drills and I have included many of them in previous posts.

One player is at the net, playing against two players at the baseline. Coach is also at the baseline safely tucked out of the way, feeding the first ball to net player. Players play out the point, complete a set, and rotate a different player over to the net. This is a great way to work on fitness as well as net play.


  • If you have more than 3 players in clinic, run multiple courts with extra players who are not in the game (yet) feeding from behind the baseline. 
  • Full set too long? Try a short set, pro set, or tiebreaker format.
  • Only 2 students or small group semi-private? Coach plays in.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Group Of

Group Of is a warm-up activity best for medium to large groups. It is similar to Musical Chairs without the music.

Scatter racquets around the tennis court. Give each player one tennis ball. Players move about the court. Leader calls out a number. Players must form a group of that size around one of the racquets as soon as possible, and place their ball on the racquet, forming their 'group'. So for example if the leader calls out '3', all players must form a group of three players/balls at one of the racquets. Any players unable to form a group may perform a challenge activity such as jumping jacks, chicken dance, touchdown dance, donkey kicks, something silly but not demeaning.

Players must select a different racquet location each round to avoid having them hang out at a single location the whole time.


  • Players must move around the court in a designated fashion such as running, skipping, hopping, etc.
  • Players have a designated amount of time to form their group.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Dragon's Gold

Dragon's Gold is a warm-up adapted from Good for large groups of any
age. You will need a tennis ball and some cones or spots, enough for each player.

Create a large circle with the cones or spots. Divide players into equal teams of 2-3 players each. Each player stands near a spot or cone that is their home base. Teams do not have to stand next to each other - players on a single team can be scattered around the circle.

One player is designated the Dragon and is given a tennis ball (the 'gold') to place on the ground in the middle of the circle. Teams take turn trying to steal the Dragon's gold and return to their base without getting tagged. Dragon's job is to protect the gold by tagging players before they can return to their base. Tagged players must freeze. If all players on a team are tagged before they collect the gold, they return to their bases and it is another team's turn. Play continues until one team successfully captures the gold. If no one can capture the gold, once all teams have had a chance, designate a new Dragon.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Boxed In

This is a simple warm-up for both mind and body. Best with medium to large groups.

Arrange players roughly in a square with Coach in the middle. Players take note of where they are standing relative to the Coach as well as to each other. For example,a player might be facing the coach with Johnny to their right and Susie to their left. Some will be behind, some to the right, some to the left, etc.

Coach spins, then stops. All players must then rearrange themselves so that they are back in their original position relative to the coach as well as to each other.

Rather than spinning, Coach may move to a different part of the court.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Guard the Cone

Guard the Cone is another warm-up adapted from Good for larger groups of any age and ability.

Players form a large circle. You may find placing spots around the perimeter will help keep the players a safe distance away/keep the circle from shrinking as play commences. Place a cone, perhaps with a ball on top, in the center. One player is designated as Guard. It is his/her job to keep the circle players from hitting the cone. Circle players take turns tossing one ball underhand trying to hit the cone. Note only ONE ball is in play.

If the guard accidentally hits the cone, no harm, no foul.

First player to hit cone becomes the new guard.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Nod and Go

Nod and Go is another variation on circle activities, good for large groups of any ability. You will need some throw-down spots, enough for one each player.

Players form a large circle with one player in the middle. Place a spot next to each player in the outer circle. Explain there is no running in this game, only walking for safety purposes. Players change places with each other by first indicating with a nod that they agree to exchange places. Player in the middle is looking for an opportunity to walk over and take any empty spot. Since there is one fewer spot than the number of players, there should always be one player without a spot/in the middle.


  • Players communicate using methods other than nods such as wink, clap, pat leg, etc.
  • Remove more spots so that more players are in the middle at the same time.
Adapted from

Monday, September 16, 2013

Empty Bucket

Empty Bucket is a simple warm-up perfect for large groups of any ability.

Place a bucket or hopper in the middle of the court, filled with tennis balls. Designate one player to stand near the bucket. This is the Bucket Boss. All other players are scattered around the court. Bucket Boss empties bucket one ball at a time. Other players replace balls into bucket, again, one ball at a time. Goal is to not allow the Bucket Boss to empty the bucket.

Play for a designated amount of time, then switch Bosses.

Adapted from

Friday, September 13, 2013

Ten Trips

Ten Trips will work on your students' tossing and targeting skills. Great for large groups of any ability.

Have players form a large circle, at least 3 feet apart from each other. One player tosses a ball to each of the others in order. Catching player toss it back. Goal is to have a successful toss/catch to each player without drops. Once all have been tossed to, that is one point. Play continues until 10 points have been earned, then a new player is designated as tosser.

Update: we tried this recently and 10 points is too long for a single tosser. Consider have tosser change after shorter rounds such as one single successful round.

Adapted from 

Thursday, September 12, 2013


Here's a great warm-up activity perfect for large groups of any ability.

Have the players form a large circle. One player is designated Ringmaster and stands in the middle of the circle. The Ringmaster chooses a second player to stand in the middle with him/her.

Circled players take turns tossing a ball underhand, trying to tag the Ringmaster. Take care to aim chest level or lower. Ringmaster's second player's job is to keep the ball from hitting the Ringmaster. First player tagging Ringmaster is the new Ringmaster and selects a new guard to work with.

Require two or more tags before switching Ringmasters.
Allow two or more guards for the Ringmaster.

Adapted from

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Back Me Up

I will be posting some cooperative activities modified for tennis, inspired by a recent post on The first is Back Me Up. It works great as a warm-up. Take care to work safely as they will be working on a hard surface (the court).

Create two-person teams of players evenly matched for size. Have them sit on the court with their backs together. Knees should be drawn up to chest. Challenge them to achieve a standing position by using the pressure they apply back-to-back.

If they are able, have them try getting back to a sitting position using the same pressure and balance skills.

Caterpillar Riot

I love everything about this game, including the name! Good for large groups of any ability, probably
better for the younger set as it has a definite 'silly' factor. You will need some props including hoops and 'treasure'. The treasure can be any items that can be easily picked up and carried by the players. Tennis balls are perfect for this.

Divide players into two teams. Each player should have a hoop to stand in. Hoops should be touching. Teams compete to move around the court, collecting treasure. Teams move as follows: last player in hoop line steps into hoop with player in front of him. He then passes his empty hoop forward to first player in line, who places hoop on ground and steps into it. Then all players move forward one hoop.

Team collecting the most treasure either in a given time period or when all treasure has been collected, is the winner.

If you don't have hoops available, use spots. Players must stand on spots/cannot leave spots to move to or collect treasure.

Adapted from