Tip of the Week
Power Player Control Shots.
This Sunday I had three group sessions. In the first, I worked with Lidney Castro with our "Advanced Beginning Junior" group. It was an easy session - we had a practice tournament! Afterwards, I gathered them and quizzed them on what they had learned regarding their strengths and weaknesses. I emphasized that you should work on everything, but focus on getting rid of weaknesses while developing overpowering strengths.
In the Intermediate Group (mostly up to about 2000 level), I acted as a practice partner, mostly blocking for an hour. The last ten minutes we did a drill where two players took turns returning my deep serves (mostly to backhand) and playing out points - and I gave them fits! I especially worked with them on returning my big breaking serve that breaks sharply into the backhand, with backspin or topspin, though I focused more on a fast, side-backspin serve that broke a foot. I also had a discussion with one of our really promising players, who has great power. I pointed out that because his shots have such hop and power, most he plays now can't block them back - and so he often doesn't need to worry about placement. But placement is a skill you need to develop, and if he doesn't develop it now, by the time he plays players who can block them back, he'll be way behind. So I told him that even if the opponent can't block his loops, he should really focus on placement - not only going to wide corners and middle, but also knowing when to go where.
I also had a session with three beginning girls - usually there are four, but one was away. Introduced them to spin by lending them a "spin ball" (with two colors), and had them practice spinning it off their rackets. That's the first step toward teaching spin serves!