Saturday, October 23, 2021

Can you make the rectangle interesting?



Doug Browne

Each May in Collier County, clubs offer the most comprehensive reciprocal plan to everyone so members may experience different golf courses throughout the area. Numerous members from north Naples travel south to play golf at Fiddler’s Creek and Hideaway Beach.

Interestingly enough, this great and expansive program has nothing to do with tennis; golf layouts are so unique and avid players are riveted to learn the different nuisances at each facility. Unfortunately this exciting reciprocal program does not include tennis, After all, a rectangle is a rectangle!

Therefore it is essential for all tennis professionals to offer the most stimulating and challenging programs for their members. In particular, tennis pros must be equally creative on-court with their private and group lessons. Without a doubt, when I conduct diverse team drills, I implement inventive scoring systems to keep my students on their toes so their games grow with each practice.

For example, we routinely run doubles drills with the common one up and one back format. Additionally, no player is allowed to lob or they lose the point. In my biased opinion, too many tennis players rely on the lob and in time, their feet get sloppy. Now, to make the game really fascinating, any team that strikes a ball into the net loses two points instead of the customary one point.

Hold on…we are not done with the altered rules. One more rule: Any team that hits an outright w i n ner (similar to a service ace) wins three points! In this scenario, the players are so psyched up to aggressively move their feet and see if they can set up the point to win the huge bonus of three points instead of one. But they have to tread carefully because a net error results in a two-point loss. Believe me, no one is complacent; the players are geared up to prove that they can win without lobbing and toss in a few exciting winners along the way. After I’ve fed the balls for these drills for at least 20 minutes, we then incorporate the serve. And as one would guess, if a team double-faults, they lose the game!

There are several important keys to focus on during our practices: First, add imaginative scoring to keep the players interested. Second, apply pressure as often as possible so our players are ready to deal with their league-match anxiety. Third, always make practices as fun and as enthusiastic as possible because all players need to be motivated.

Anyone who is competitive desires to be challenged and it is imperative to change the tenor of each coaching session. If coaches run inspirational practices, players will rise and improve and wish to work harder. Good luck.

Doug Browne is the Hideaway Beach Tennis Director and the new Collier County USPTA Pro of the Year. Additionally, Doug has been the International Hall of Fame Director of Tennis this past summer. Doug has been writing his tennis column for the past fifteen years and welcomes your feedback. 

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