Gene’s Tennis Tip July 2016: Tennis Tips from a high performance workshop at Mcc

Mcc played host to six tennis pros and USPTR Director of Development Brian Parkkonen for a weekend to train on the latest techniques and scientific developments in the game of tennis to get a Level 1 Certification to teach High Performance Tennis (focused on developing players for the Professional Tour and College tennis).  The course dealt with bio-mechanics, nutrition, mental and emotional development, tactics, strategy, and techniques to improve stroke production and footwork.  The certification included a written exam, a performance exam, and a testing portion to see that the coaches could run a high performance clinic or private lesson focused on match play.  The class touted the importance of working on particular aspects of the player’s development and having a purpose with each training session.  The five main areas that performance players concentrate on are:  1)Serve plus 1; 2)Return plus one; 3)Approaching the net; 4)Passing an approaching player; 5)Rallying from the baseline.
Recreational players can structure practice sessions in the same way, to focus on these major areas of match play.  Most everyone has a lot of practice with baseline rallies (#5), but the other four are often neglected by club and rec players.  A good game to play is works on #1 (Serve +1) and #2 (Return +1).  Here’s how it works:  Player A (server) serves to Player B (returner).  If the returner gets his return of serve in the court and then gets a second shot in the court, he wins a point.  If the returner does not put two shots in play, the server wins a point.  That’s not it!  If the returner gets two shots in the court, he now has one point, however, the point is NOT OVER.  From there, they play out the point.  If the server wins the point, then each player has earned one point and the score is 1-1.  If the returner gets two balls in the court, then wins the point after that, he gets two points and the score is 2-0.  Play this game to eleven or fifteen points with one player serving the whole time, then switch roles and play another game with the other player serving the second game.  This evens out the advantage the server has and makes each player focus on getting the first and second shots in play.  It also makes the server work harder to hit good serves because that is the only way for him to get ahead-make the returner miss.
This game is one example of return plus one and serve plus one focused practice.  This type of practice prepares you for match play, not just aimlessly rallying and because so much of tennis is about the serve and return of serve, it will give you reps on these vital strokes that rallying or even regular match play cannot duplicate.  See you on the courts!

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