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I'm coaching middle school tennis for the first time. Where to begin?

Coaching tennis to middle school athletes for the first time. How do I begin?

Equip yourself with the correct tennis balls. In the UK we have graded balls: red, orange and green. If your 'athletes' have never hit before they need low bounce balls (red) if they've got the basics but perhaps haven't got the timing right (orange balls) if they're rallying well but perhaps haven't got the power - green balls. If they're competent then normal tennis balls.

This will make a massive difference to help what you need to teach. Your overall aim should be to make sure each individual pupil has had a chance to hit the ball as many times as possible. So reduce queues, adapt courts to include as many partner rallies as possible. If pupils do have to be off court have them hitting a ball up to themselves etc.

 

Personal Development:  You may want to take your first year's salary and get some private tennis lessons for yourself from a reputable coach, so you are aware how to play tennis in fundamentally sound fashion.  You will learn about the strategy of the game as you play the sport and watch some of your better players compete.  Additionally, watch some you tube videos on tennis strategy, instruction, and team drills... that should get you started.  Develop a daily practice routine... 5 minute dynamic stretching with a few laps of running, 15-20 minutes of warmup starting at the net moving back to the baseline; I have 26 girls on 4 courts, so I split my team into two groups (blue and white squads, our school colors; blue is varsity; white is j.v.)... white squad hits a serving drill on one court for 20 minutes while the 12 varsity tennis players are warming up on the other three courts; then I switch serving drill with the blue with the white squads so both have practiced all their strokes before I go into specific drills which are usually developed around doubles play.  The warm-up with rotating my blue and white squad takes 40 minutes.  My philosophy is every player should be hitting every shot (i.e., volley, overhead, forehand, backhand, and serve) every day.

Supplies: Tennis balls go bad after 2-3 months, so your supply of tennis balls will be your largest expense.  I charge my tennis team members a supply fee of $50 each season which goes towards purchase of tennis balls throughout our 6 months of practices.  If your season is shorter you can budget a smaller portion of of funds towards tennis balls.  Remember at your matches to open new tennis balls for the match, then you can place them in your tennis hopper at the end of the match for your practices.  I like to open new tennis balls for my hopper in May, July, then September which gets me through my October tennis post season play (we play fall tennis in Arkansas).  You should also get plastic cones for targets for practicing serve, volley, and groundstrokes.  I use the 6 inch tall ones so the players can see them from the opposite side of the courts.  I have two hoppers that hold 220 balls each, so the white and blue squads have a basket of tennis balls to use.  Each basket takes 3.5 cases of tennis balls to fill them.  That will cost your budget around $175 in tennis balls per 220 ball hopper.  The 220 ball hopper has roller wheels on the bottom with foldable legs so I can transport the hopper from my car to the courts.  The hopper costs around $150 each.  Also, you should get some 85 ball hoppers to pick up balls with.  I also use these hoppers as targets for some of my drills.  I have 6 of them as well.  They cost around $30 each.

Hope this helps.  Good luck and have fun.  Tennis is a great sport.

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  • search our library of 1200+ tennis drills
  • create your own professional coaching plans
  • or access our tried and tested plans