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.