Friday, February 14, 2014

Ultimate Volley Drill

Ultimate Volley Drill by Inaki Balzola appeared in the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of PTR's magazine. It
was presented as a ball machine drill but is easily adapted if you don't have a machine handy. Coach can take the place of the machine. You can do this drill with as few as three students. Students should be able to rally volleys.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tennis Pen Pal Program

Did you ever have a pen pal when you were a kid? One of my elementary school teachers organized a pen pal program for our class. We corresponded with some French students. This was very big doings for a bunch of fourth graders from Dallas, Texas. I remember the experience fondly, even after all these years. Oooh, la la!

Recently I was talking to someone about how Twitter is similar to the old pen pal concept as far as meeting interesting people from all over. That got me thinking about reviving the pen pal idea for my current tennis students. Some of you have already expressed interest in participating. That's awesome, but how to proceed??

Safety first! I will be approaching my students' parents and get permission from those who are interested in participating. We also need to come up with a way of having them communicate with each other that is acceptable to all. Facebook is an obvious choice since so many clubs and parents are already using it. Or, we could go old school and just have them correspond directly via snail mail.

I thought I would match individuals or groups by age and level of player. For example, Red Ball class to Red Ball class, or Orange Ball female player to Orange Ball female player. That way, at least they would have their basic tennis experiences in common to start off with.

As far as what will be communicated, depends on how we communicate. Using technology such as Facebook, I was thinking of group pictures, pictures of fun stuff going on in clinic, reports on tournament/JTT play, school team news, etc. If we go with individual communication via snail mail, that's up to the students and their parents.

This will probably evolve as we go along. Any thoughts or advice welcome - tweet to me @10U10S or leave a comment here. Thanks for participating! Should be fun!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Toe Fencing

Toe Fencing is also from the Quebec PE site. It's a great idea for warm-ups for any size group from 2 players on up. It reminds me of the Gotcha game but doesn't need any bean bags or extra equipment, so hurray!

Pair up players. Pairs hold both of each others' hands about shoulder height. Object is to tag opponent's toes with your toes while of course not letting them tag you!

The site gives a couple of good options for game management: you could either go for highest number of tags in a giving amount of time, or go until someone achieves X number of tags before switching partners.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Tusker Tag

Another fun warm-up variation on tag from the Quebec PE site: Tusker Tag. Best for large groups.

Players pair up. All pairs must hold hands or wrists. One pair is designated Tusker. If you have an uneven number of players, include single player as one of the Tuskers also. Give Tusker team a ball. Commence playing 'tag'. Tusker team tries to tag other pairs with ball. Note they are touching other players with the ball still in hand, not throwing ball at them. When tagged, pair is frozen in place and must raise the hands they are holding up into a bridge shape. They may be unfrozen if any other unfrozen pair runs underneath their 'bridge'.

If any hands/wrists become disconnected, that pair is automatically frozen also.

Object is to tag/freeze all players.

Make this game harder by gradually shrinking the playing space. For example, start by using the entire end of court. Then shrink to back court only. Then to service box. Then alley. Any players stepping outside of boundaries are frozen.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Gotcha! is an easy and fun tennis warm-up idea from one of my co-workers, Coach Tricia. Tricia is a retired PE teacher and has many great ideas for small and large group activities. 

You will need some bean bags or koosh balls or other soft items that do not bounce or roll, enough for one each. Restrict the game area to a portion of the court based on the size of your group. You want it small enough to make it fun, but large enough to be safe. In this example we were using the service box. 

Play is during a timed interval. When Coach says Go, players try to tag each other on the foot with their bean bags. When they are successful, they call out 'Gotcha!' At the end of the timed interval, player with most Gotchas wins.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Tennis Checkers

Thanks Martyn Collins for tipping me to this site. Lots of fun game ideas here. They call this game Ultimate Sponge Ball so look for that title if you want to see the original instructions. Looking at the game diagram I am reminded of the game of checkers, so pardon my name change. I am a little unclear on a couple of the rules so I am clarifying them on the fly here. Best with groups, good for warm-up.

Divide group into two even teams. If you are playing this on the tennis court, perfect - each time stakes out one end of court. Object of the game is to be the first team to move the ball behind other team's baseline.

  • Ball can only be moved by throwing/catching. Players may not run, walk, or otherwise move with the ball. Players who do not have the ball may change positions including moving around net to opponent's end of court when on offense and taking up defensive positions when not.
  • Defending team may not move to interfere with a thrown ball - no batting out of the air, jumping up and down, etc. Defender must remain one arm's length plus one racquet length away from opponents. Note this is approximate distance one should be from ball at point of contact.
  • Dropped ball or ball thrown out of bounds results in a change of possession. Original game did not say where change of possession should take place, so I am arbitrarily saying baseline of other team.

Here's how I envision this game working: game commences with one player tossing a ball to another teammate to advance the ball toward the opponent's baseline. All players are able to change positions except the person who has the ball. So let's say Player A has the ball. She waits until one of her teammates is ready (Player B), then throws it to them. Player B now must decide which teammate to throw the ball to, standing in place and waiting until her teammates have rearranged themselves and are ready to receive the ball. In the meantime, the defending team can also move around relative to the offense's movements as long as they stay appropriate distance from any player. Defense can play zone or man-to-man, whichever they think will be most effective. So this game should be very dynamic and have kids moving around constantly to either advance or defend their positions.

First team to 7 wins, best two out of three.

If this is too difficult, allow one bounce or use a bigger ball.