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
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
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
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.
Match Point Racquet Sports