Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Team Footwork Drill #1

The following drill is designed to do the following: 1) Get players on the balls of their feet 2) Get players to practice a split step 3) Get players to take little steps to adjust to the ball. It can also be used to get players to practice getting their racquet back early and letting their arm swing freely for groundstrokes.

You need at least two players to do this drill. However, you can have an entire team do it. Split the players up into two teams positioned on either side of the court. When the drill starts everyone should be bouncing on their toes (holding their racquets) as if they were jumping rope.

One player from each team is positioned at the baseline and the ball is put in play. The objective of the players is to hit an appropriate rally shot to the other side. Groundstrokes should be struck with high racquet head speed imparting a lot of spin and a lot of arc. The purpose of these groundstrokes is to move the opponent around with a high margin of error. If a player is pulled way out of position, he should do whatever he can to just keep the ball in play deep. The coach will award a point for each appropriate groundstroke. The coach can use his judgement on this. If a shot was hit too tentatively or too short he can choose not to award a point. When a shot is missed (in the net, long, wide), then the coach deducts a point. Also, when a shot is missed, the player who missed it goes to the end of the line on his team and the next player moves to take his position. Ideally, this transition is done with no break in play. The game ends when 20 points have been scored in total (so both teams are cooperating). Let the players rest a little bit and then start it up again.

ALL players should be bouncing on their toes like they are jumping rope at all times whether they are in the rally or waiting in line. The player in the rally should do the following: 1) bounce on toes at all times while waiting on opponent, 2) bounce a little higher just as opponent is about to hit the ball, 3) move racquet back as fast as possible after determining forehand or backhand, 4) take medium steps to get to the general position to hit the ball, 5) take exaggerated little steps just before hitting the ball (4-6 squeaks should be heard), 6) hit the ball with a free swinging arm with the intent of generating spin and arc.

If a player fails to do any of the six steps, no point will be awarded. The coach should say the score if a point is awarded or something like "steps" or "bouncing" to indicate why a point was not awarded. When a shot is missed and a point is deducted, the coach should say the decremented score.