Target practice is a fantastic way to develop accuracy and consistency in young players. It also provides a fun challenge, especially if it’s in a team environment and everyone is working together.
As per the diagram below:
1. The coach should line up two teams (in the below case it’s two teams of two players). They will rotate in and out, one shot at a time.
2. The coach should feed the balls to the players in a way that allows them to practice to their best ability. For most young players this should be a hand feed, rather than feeding a ball in using a racquet on the other side of the net.
3. The team will be assigned to hit one of the ‘lonely islands’ (made up of cones). Either down-the-line or cross-court. The coach can assign an island that each team should aim at.
4. Every time a team member hits a cone on the island that they are assigned, they will gain a point.
5. The coach should feed a full basket of balls and declare the winners with the most points at the end of the basket.
6. As shown in the diagram, each child will hit one shot and rotate with their partner behind them.
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It’s always nice when the kids have a sense of “ownership” over their team. So allow the players to come up with team names before they begin. These can either be tennis players or countries or something completely random.
Remember it’s easy to regress or progress depending on their level. Either move closer or further from the net, make the feed tougher by feeding off the racquet from the other side of the net, or have them hit different shots, such as backhands or volleys instead of forehands.