VC283 Volley Stations (doubles)

Here’s a practice set up using stations for a large group on a single court with the emphasis on volleys in doubles.  In a team practice the drill can be self-run allowing the coach to roam.  Each station works on a particular type of volley often used in doubles.  Here are the stations and the diagram shows spacing on a court.  You could also use this as a warm-up with quick rotations from station to station.  All the stations need to be co-operative; players are working together to improve and are not trying to hit winners.

Note: The video shows how the drill works for Station V but in this situation the players will be on a baseline and will not need to worry about the net.

Station I: First Volleys (deep volleys)

Each player starts in an alley close to the baseline and work on hitting co-operative first volleys to each other.  Emphasize footwork (split step and a weight transfer), racket angle (for more height) and a solid contact.

Station II: Crosscourt Volley

Depending on the level you can have players just hit either forehands or backhands back crosscourt or for more of a challenge players must alternative between the two shots.  Emphasize footwork (split step and a weight transfer), racket angle (for placement) and a solid contact.

Station III: Crosscourt Volley

See above

Station IV: Reflex Volleys

Two players start off the court standing just a few meters from each other and play reflex volleys back and forth.  Players can stand directly in front of each other and play either forehands or backhands or play to one side only for example a forehand to a backhand.  Or move players in opposite directions so their forehands line up and just play forehand to forehand (good for lower levels).  Emphasize keeping the racket in front (no swing) and a quick recovery.

Station V: Poaching Volley (controlled movement)

Two players start about 3-4 meters apart in the alley on the baseline. Players will volley back and forth as they move along the baseline to the opposite alley.  Once they reach the opposite alley they continue to volley as they move back across the court.  Emphasize fast feet and a controlled racket (for placement)

Station V sample video

Serve Tips and Handout

The serve is often a tough shot to learn with many high school players never able to reach a high level of competency. One stumbling block is often the grip – not being able to use the continental grip when serving.  One of your goals for the off-season for these players should be to serve with a continental grip to increase spin, power and consistency on their serves.  Here’s a handout explaining how to place your hand with references for a continental grip and other serving tips.  You can easily create handouts like this on

Serve Handout

GC136 Topspin

Start with your players standing sideways to the net. For forehands place their opposite hand on the net and their front foot at the bottom of the net. For one-handed backhand players stand about a foot away from the net and for a two-handed backhand the front foot is at the bottom of the net. Have the players take a few easy swings hitting the net and brushing up. On their forehands occasionally have them finish over their hitting shoulder for more topspin. Then have the players place a ball between their rackets and the net. Have the players brush up on the ball and spin it over. Eventually the players will move back and drop and hit topspin. Let the players start to alternate finishes on the forehand with one finish over their hitting shoulder and one in front of them. Then move the players to the baseline to practice topspin. The same procedure can be used for backhands. For the one-handed backhand players will finish in front and remain more sideways to the net.


Indoor/Outdoor Practice

Here’s another fitness/conditioning drill you can use inside or out.  Use the search function on  under Drills/Conditioning for more samples!

Here are two variations for this drill. In the first situation have your players’ pair up and start in the push-up position with the hands of one player on the singles side line and the hands of the other player on the doubles side line. Place a ball in the middle of the alley between the two players. When the coach says “go” the player who grabs the ball receives a point. The coach can also say either “right” or “left” and the players must use that hand to grab the ball.

In the other version have your players start in the push-up position on each baseline. The coach can feed to either side and the players have to explode up and play the point out.

 See the video here;

Spring Tennis Weather (going inside)

Many schools have started tennis practice and often coaches have to deal with the weather.  Going inside to the gym or other indoor space can be a great option.  Here are some ideas to help run a productive and efficient practice inside.

  • Have a plan.  Stations can be a great way to organize a large group in a small space.  Some sample stations could be; fitness, tennis simulations exercises, volley, wall hits and games.
  • Use transition balls such as low compression balls and foam tennis balls.  These balls will not bounce as high or fast and allow players to gain better control.  You can also incorporate them with your outdoor practices.  College coaches will often use them in some practice drills helping their players hit through the ball.  You can purchase these balls (and same day shipping) from Fromuth.  Here’s the link;
  • Many of the drills, games and handouts on our web site, can be used indoors.  The drills and games may take some tweaking or variations.  Here’s a sample of a game CF727 Service Box Bump that can be used indoors by marking off a designated area (instead of using the service boxes).

Target Adjustments in a Match (learning to self coach)

Target Adjustment in a Match (Self coaching)

 By improving and being aware of shot placement your players will quickly improve their match strategies and be able to make adjustments.  As we all know players must often figure out what they need to do during match play to correct errors, coaches have little opportunity to coach during actual match play?

Certain drills in practice can help your players improve their shot placement and learn to “self coach” in a match.  Here’s a drill (with different progressions) you can use to help your players.

GC236 ABC Target Adjustment


Here’s a drill with different progressions to help players improve shot placement and learn to “self coach” in match play.  Start with two players on the court, one on each baseline.  Players start with a courtesy feed and a rally or point can be played with certain ‘add-ons”.   Here are some options;

  • Players say aloud what target they are aiming for before the ball bounces on their side of the net. Players receive a point for each target hit (counted by the spotters)
  • Remove two targets on each side and players focus on that target area during a rally or point.  Spotters can provide adjustment tips for each player during the rally for example, “aim two feet more to the left”.
  • Spotters can feed a ball to the player on their side as a retry after a mistake or for an extra practice shot before or after the rally.
  • The spotter can tell the player what target to aim for before the ball bounces on their side (you can move the spotter back behind the hitter).
  • Remove or add targets to one side for example you may have three targets on one side and only one target on the other side.
  • Targets can be mats, towels, plastic lines, hula hoops, etc.

GaC718 Runners and Hitters

Here’s another large group drill or game that can handle many players and different levels at the same time.  It can be used as a warm up activity or as a fun group game ending a session.  Divide your players into two teams.  Spin the racket and the winner gets to choose whether they want start as runners or hitters.  The hitters will have half their team on one baseline and their other half on the other baseline.  Their objective is to count how many times they rally a ball with players moving to the back of their line after each hit, if they make a mistake they continue adding to their score with the next rally.  The runners start one at a time and run around the outside of the court, when all players have run (either once or twice) they yell “stop”.  Teams then switch areas and the team with the highest rally wins!

Other activities for the runners could include holding two rackets, one in each hand with a ball resting on the strings.  A player then runs the length of the court trying not to drop a ball and places the balls in a basket and then runs back and a teammate then goes. The runners have to place a certain number of balls in the basket.  You could also incorporate other types of movement; shuffling, lunges, etc and or limit the area and strokes for the hitters, for example backhand crosscourts.