sep 1

The Tennis4You Workshop- "Half Court, Cross Court"
By:  Randy Cummings - Match Point Racquet Sports

When I give a lesson with 4 or more people, I like to station one in each service box and have them hit little dink-um shots to each other (mini-tennis) to warm-up. Next, I have them do a few volleys one-on-one straight ahead, and then cross-court. All this is to set the stage for one of my favorite drills, "half-court, cross-court."

I divide the students into 2 groups. One group is behind the baseline in the deuce half of the court, the other group is behind the baseline diagonally opposite them, in their own deuce half of the court. The court is divided lengthwise and all balls have to land in the opposite court on the diagonal (alleys included). One player from each group comes to the baseline, and the instructor, standing inside the baseline on the ad side of the court, feeds a ball to the far court player to begin the point.

After the point is played out on the diagonal in this way, the winner stays for the next point; the loser goes to the end of her line and a new player from her group enters. Games can be played to 10 or 15 points (win by two). To prevent strong players from monopolizing, I have a rule that a player can only stay in for a maximum of three winning points and then she has to rotate out.

Once a game is completed, I have the teams switch ends and also switch to the ad court diagonal. Another game is played on this new diagonal.

Not surprisingly, the group receiving the instructor's feed generally loses the game, and the games are split one-to-one. I then stage a play-off, but this time it is done straight ahead on the full singles court only.

To encourage players to work on their attacking game and come to the net, I award two points for a clean volley winner. I might also award extra points for topspin lob winners and/or for overhead winners.

On the play-off game up the middle in the singles court, I might jazz things up a little, as follows. Each team for its first 5 points can use only one racquet and must alternate players on each hit during the point (i.e., a player hits, then passes off the racquet to the next player who hits, etc.). For the next 5 points, they can each use their own racquet, but they must still alternate their hits among the players. For the final 5 points, they play out the point as described above (if they win, they stay; if they lose they go to the end of their line).

I like this half-court, cross-court game because it helps players groove their cross-court shots, which are critical in doubles. Players also quickly understand that coming to the net dramatically reduces the angles available to their opponents. Finally, when both players are striving for that 2 point winner at net, they can get good practice hitting response volleys at close range.


Randy Cummings
Match Point Racquet Sports