Rolling into the second half of KCTL’s Fall After-School Program, site leader Adam Joyce has covered three overarching aspects of tennis: preparation, margin for error, and tactics.
Here is how Adam has incorporated these important themes into class so far:
WEEK 1 - PREPARATION
In the first week, we discussed the many ways to be prepared to play tennis. We practice often, and we practice hard, so we're ready to meet challenges on the court. We also think ahead about what we need to do on the court in order to meet our goals.
Most important, we discussed and worked on all the ways to prepare to make every shot. We stay focused on the ball and our position on the court. We stay in the ready position until we know where the ball is going. We take the racket back early. We move our feet early and use proper technique to sidestep to the ball. And we hustle to make sure the ball stays in front of us.
Most of our drills emphasized techniques of groundstrokes, volleys, and serves. Coaches feed the balls to students and worked on the most basic components of these shots. We ran some sprints to demonstrate sidestepping and backpedaling, and we ended each day with competitions like king of the court and breakout.
WEEK 2 - MARGIN FOR ERROR
Once you learn the mechanics of strokes, you can start to think about how to hit the ball into the court consistently. This requires attention to margin for error. There are many elements to achieving margin. The low-to-high stroke ensures height above the net. Aiming cross court gives you a longer distance to hit into. And controlling your body - not rushing, not swinging hard, not running while swinging - makes it more likely that your shot will go in the direction you intend it to.
This week, we focused on the mechanics of hitting crosscourt, performing drills and playing games that reward those safe shots. We also worked on achieving height over the net, as well as depth. While we played singles competitions on the big court, we also played volley games in the handball area.
WEEK 3 - TACTICS
Because we are gearing up for a tournament on November 4, we have started to think about how to win points. The students first brainstormed about how we might try to win a point - aside from achieving margin fire error. They suggested: moving the opponent from side to side; not just following a recognizable pattern; hitting short balls; hitting deep balls; hitting to where the opponent is not.
We first practiced changing patterns by hitting two balls crosscourt and one down the line. We also played a game where one player hit crosscourt and the other went down the line.
Most important, we have been working on playing points against each other - especially starting with overhand serving. The players, from the advanced to the beginner - are getting the hang of how to rally and how to construct a point.