Monday, June 23, 2014

Serve Caterpillar

I can't believe I haven't posted this activity before, but I can't find it anywhere. I use it frequently with many variations. You will need some spots.

Throw down the spots outside the court sidelines about five feet apart starting at net position and progressing until the last spot is behind the baseline in the usual serving position. Players take turn serving from positions within the court aligned with the spots, starting with the 'head' of the caterpillar (the position closest to the net). Players move back one position for each serve hit in. A missed serve means player goes all the way back to the first position closest to the net. First player to reach baseline and hit a serve in, wins.

This game is easily converted to a team activity, with players on each team taking turns hitting. In other words, no fair having the same person on the team hitting all the serves! Whether playing individual or team, play best two out of three and switch sides (deuce/ad) each round.

Hint: when you are laying down the spots, try not to put two of the same colors together. It gets confusing trying to remember who should be serving from which spot/color. Having each position a different colored spot helps everyone keep track.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Getting The Word Out

How do you get the word out about your tennis business? I teach at two county-owned facilities. We use a variety of methods, low- and high-tech.

Low tech:
  • County recreation catalog - it's very well done and comes out a few times a year. I listed this under Low Tech because although the link takes you to a PDF online, it is also printed and mailed in paper format. Tennis is listed along with all the other activities offered by the county. The catalog gets in front of lots of eyeballs.
  • Flyers - both facilities have different flyers describing the various tennis clinics offered. 
High tech:
  • Websites - both facilities have their own websites here and here.
  • Social Networking - both facilities have Facebook pages here and here. One also has a Twitter account @caycetennisfit and a Google+ page. Facebook is updated fairly often; the others, less so.
  • QR Codes - one facility has used QR codes on flyers in the past. Not sure if they have any effect, but it costs nothing to include them, so if we have room, we use them.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Slam Bang Serve & Return

I cooked up this drill idea the other day while running a serve caterpillar. I often have players returning serve during serve drills to reduce time spent in line and of course work on the second most important shot of the game. This drill will put extra pressure on the returner when the server is serving from up close.

Two players face each other across the net. One is serving; the other is returning. Serving player is doing a serve caterpillar, meaning they are working their way back from the net to the baseline. Server is serving from four stations: mid service box, service line, 60 ft. blended line/no man's land, and baseline. Returning player is just trying to get their own returns in play. Players do not play out the point. Activity should move quickly to get new players rotated in.

One point is awarded for every ball correctly hit. Server has one chance per position. Any misses by the server = a point for the returner. Winner stays and switches roles. Ties are broken with a serve from the baseline until someone wins.

Since players do not play out point, up to 4 players could be playing simultaneously per court with additional players waiting to rotate in.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Tennis Teaching Aids: The Sky's The Limit

Here's how much of a TCN (Tennis Coach Nerd) I am: recently I was watching one of my guilty pleasure TV shows, What Not To Wear. I know, I know, this has nothing to do with tennis, but stay with me here. In case you haven't seen it, this is a makeover show. A lucky person, usually female, is selected to receive a style makeover from industry experts. The makeover includes a $5000 gift certificate used to update the recipient's wardrobe. As I was watching, I couldn't help but wish I were the recipient. But instead of imagining myself roaming the boutiques of New York City, I thought of the new OnCourtOffCourt tennis supply catalog. NERD!

Have you received the new 20th anniversary catalog? If not, you can download one here. Lots of great toys. If I had $5K to spend with them, here's what I would buy, in no particular order.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Absolute Serve

Here's another great drill idea from Cosmin Milhoca at It is similar to the Keep It Deep serve drill, but adapted for a single player for either practicing alone or during a private lesson.

Player serves out a game against an imaginary opponent. First serve must be hard enough that it bounces 2 times or fewer before hitting back fence. Second serve may bounce 3 times or fewer. If either of these conditions is not met, serve is considered a fault. Double fault = point for 'opponent', natch.