Friday, October 15, 2021

Cross Training


Photos by Jodi Pree

Photos by Jodi Pree

Wikipedia defines cross training as “an athletic training in sports other than the athlete’s usual sport. The goal is improving overall performance. It takes advantage of the particular effectiveness of one training method to negate the shortcomings of another.”

It has become a catch phrase in sports.

Growing up, I played all sports. Back in those days, even in elementary school, we attended what we called gym class. We had it every day and it lasted for an hour. When I got into middle school and high school, I also participated in organized team sports, every day, after school, which usually lasted anywhere from 1½ to 2 hours.

We were taught the fundamentals of throwing, catching, running, etc. in gym class, and then we put those skills to work in team sports like football, basketball, track and field, etc. The phrase “cross training” had not yet been invented, but by participating and playing in a variety of different sports on a daily basis, throughout the



school year, we were essentially (without really knowing it) cross training!

Nowadays, the kids attend physical education, aka PE, and it just doesn’t seem to be as much of a priority to daily life at school as it was when I was a kid. Because of this, today’s parents outsource their kids sports activities, utilizing after school and weekend programming, such as soccer, softball, flag football, swim team, etc. The problem is there are just not enough hours in the day/ week to do more than one sport at a time.

My Summer Sports Camp at the Racquet Center includes a variety of activities, which translate to all sports.

Yes, I am a tennis coach and my programming is held at a tennis facility, and my goal is to introduce the sport of tennis to as many kids as I possibly can, and provide them with the fundamental skills and knowledge of the sport to eventually play on a middle school, high school or even



a college tennis team.

The reason I include a variety of activities in my programing is because tennis is a very challenging sport to become proficient in. The skills needed to become an accomplished, competitive tennis player require the coordination and fundamental skills of several sports; and it takes a lot of dedication and time, practicing and training both on the court and off the court.

Competing in the sport of tennis requires the command of a wide variety of skills, which are used in other sports.

Tennis players need sound fundamental footwork and balance, like in soccer.

Tennis players need to have an overhand throwing motion, like in baseball and football.

Tennis players need to be able to move laterally, as well as forwards or backwards, much like the movement of offensive and defensive players in basketball.

Tennis players need to be able to coordinate movement, to make contact with a moving object, aka, the tennis ball, much like the timing of catching a bounce pass in




Tennis players need to learn specific breathing patterns, when striking the ball (aka the annoying loud grunting in professional tennis), just like swimmers learning to breath in sequence with their strokes.

My cross training activities, while being mainly designed to promote and reinforce the needed skills for being a tennis player, translate to the skills needed to play all sports. Some of the activities, which I have the kids participate in, don’t necessarily have anything to do with tennis in general; but are designed to program basic athletic fundamentals.

For instance, I teach the kids to juggle with one, two and eventually three balls, to encourage eye/hand coordination.

I utilize a rope ladder and have the kids run through the ladder, using specific footwork patterns, to teach proper movement and balance.

Wallyball is a game we play indoors, in the racquetball room, utilizing various size beachballs and a volleyball net. The game promotes teamwork and control of the ball. The overhead serve motion in wallyball



is the same as a tennis serve and helps to program muscle memory.

Beachball tennis is another game we play indoors in the racquetball room, utilizing beachballs, a miniature net, and pickleball paddles. The large size and slow movement/ bounce of the beachball, along with the smaller sized paddles, allows the kids to sustain longer rallies and gain confidence in their strokes.

Wallyball and beachball tennis slow the ball down and create a venue where the kids have more control than they do with tennis balls.

Pickleball falls right in line with wallyball and beachball tennis. The smaller size court, along with the smaller sized paddles and plastic balls, make it very easy for the kids to keep a rally going.

On the tennis court we work on the fundamentals of tennis strokes and play a variety of team games where the main goal is to keep as many balls in play as possible.

By blending several fun activities, aka “cross training,” I provide kids the opportunity

Photos by Wayne Clark

Photos by Wayne Clark

to become successful in all sports. Most importantly, I make sure the kids are having fun!

Coach Wayne’s Summer Sports Camp at the Racquet Center, begins the week of June 5th, and runs all summer long. Classes are held daily, Monday through Friday, from 10 AM to 12 PM. Kids who are attending Camp Mackle are welcome to participate in Summer Sports Camp. Registration forms can be found at The Racquet Center or at Mackle Park.

Wayne Clark is a certified professional tennis instructor with over 25 years experience coaching players on all levels of the game. Wayne is also qualified in pickleball instruction. He has been the head instructor at The Marco Island Racquet Center since 2001. The Racquet Center offers clinics, private and group lessons for both tennis and pickleball. Coach Wayne’s Island Kids Tennis/Sports Juniors programs run year round, and offer classes for players ranging from kindergarten through high school. Contact Coach Wayne by email at or by phone or text at 239-450-6161.

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