Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Battle Spots

Battle Spots is a target activity similar to Battle Cones posted here previously. My students and I have a few modifications that we believe improves the game. I saw the original while I was taking the CoachYouthTennis online training sessions.

In both games, the object is to hit your opponents' spots/cones with your ball. I like the Spots version of this game because they are lower profile and less of a trip hazard for younger players. But they are also harder to hit. When we played straight-up Battle Spots with no modifications, it was almost impossible to eliminate all spots. As Ken DeHart has suggested, better to try to be the first player to hit ANY spot, and win. Another problem I had with this game is that players tended to park in front of or on top of their spots to protect them, and would not move to go after balls and play out the point because there was no benefit to winning the point - the motivation was stronger to protect the spots. However, with one simple modification suggested by one of my green ball students, a version of Battle Spots can be played where the first player/team to lose all spots, loses, and everyone is motivated to both play out the point as well as protect their spots.

Here's a recent lesson progression that worked great in orange, green and yellow ball classes recently.

I used a mini-tennis version of Battle Spots for our ball warm-up as follows.

  • An equal number of spots are put down on each side of the net. I put them about in the middle of the forecourt. 
  • Divide players into two teams. 
  • Teams take turn bounce-feeding and playing out the point.
  • Object is to be the first team eliminate all of your opponent's spots.
  • Spots may be eliminated either by being hit by opponent's ball, OR - here's the modification - whenever a team earns three points. Note: if one team gets three points, other team removes a spot. Team earning three points is reset to zero points. Team removing spots DOES NOT reset to zero and retains however many points they had when opponent got their three. This creates a fun, equalizing see-saw effect.

For added fun and a fitness component, I had both teams playing this game in relay style: player 'hits and gits' - hit one ball, go to end of team line, next player plays next ball. This avoids the dreaded waiting in line syndrome and keeps everyone moving.

After the mini tennis version was completed, we took a water break. I moved the spots back to the T area and we played it again from the baseline.

We played this as relay singles, but it could easily be played as doubles.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


My amazing, unparalleled orange ball class came up with this fun warm-up idea recently. They named it, too! You will need some plastic throw-down spots, the kind with a large hole in the center.

Players pair up across the net from each other. One partner is the Flinger. The other is trying to catch the flung spots on the end of their racquet. See who can get the most catches during a set time period, or which team can get X number of catches first. Switch roles, repeat.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Sprint Caterpillar

I saw this warm-up in a video on Steve Smith's site Works for all ages and abilities.

Set up a cone, just beyond one doubles sideline. Players jog lightly in a line from the opposite
doubles sideline to the cone. As they reach the opposite sideline and head back to where they started, when the last player in line passes the cone (red arrow), that player sprints to the head of the line (green arrow).

Continue until all players have had a chance to be the sprinter.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Center Field

photo from here
Thanks to George Estes for this drill. George is a fellow teaching pro at Cayce Tennis and Fitness Center. His students are mostly adults, but this drill will work for junior advanced beginners and up when working on lobs and doubles. Perfect for when you have five or six players but don't want anyone standing idle.

Four players take regular doubles position on court. Fifth/sixth players stand behind baseline. These baseline players' only job is to play any lobs or feed lobs to start point.  If you only have five, coach is sixth player behind baseline, starting each point with a lob. If six, one of the two lob/baseline players starts the point with a lob.

Scoring strategy of your choice. First to X, best two out of three works well for most court drills.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Bouncy balls cheap at the dollar stores this time of year
photo from
Rollerball is a fun warm-up lifted as-is from the CoachYouthTennis site. You will need a large-ish ball such as a rubber, dodge, soccer, or basketball. If you want to see a video of this activity, take the coaching course at CYT and it will appear in lesson 5.

Two players, or two coaches, stand at net posts. They roll the large ball on the ground between them. Meanwhile, all other players are at the baseline, rolling regular tennis balls on the ground toward the net. Object is to hit the larger ball.

When I did this recently, I had six red ball players on court. Two were rolling the large ball; the other four were at the baseline. I gave them 30 second timed periods and had them keep track of how many times they were able to hit the larger ball. We rotated pairs in to roll the large ball. Player at the end of the three rounds with the most hits was our winner.

Make sure your players:

  • stay behind the baseline to roll the tennis balls toward the net
  • keep the tennis balls on the ground
  • roll with a good quality underhand motion, stepping with opposite foot, hand releasing toward target, very similar to bowling which many of them have done thanks to Wii.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Progression Infinity

There's a fairly new website called CoachYouthTennis. It has lots of great info for coaches of all
I use the heck outta my spots
levels. Great for parents, too, who are new to tennis and want some perspective on what they may be seeing during their player's lessons.

As per my usual, I will be mining the info there and testing it on court. Today's post is a complete lesson plan as opposed to a single standalone activity. It has been battle tested recently and I am very pleased with the results. My students enjoyed it thoroughly. I used it in a private lesson as well as in a group lesson with 9 red ballers and also 6 orange ballers (two different clinics, natch). Worked great all times. You will need some spots or some way to mark the court.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

ROGY Shirts

The ROGY shirts are in! Show your support of the Red-Orange-Green-Yellow tennis progression instruction method.

  • $15 each while supplies last - adult and junior sizes available
  • Special discounts for current students - contact me for details