Starting Your Season: Tips from a State Champion Coach

Here are four ideas from Coach Kevin Record (coached two FL State Champion teams) on how he approaches a new season.  After coaching high school tennis for over 15 years this is what works well for him.  These ideas or parts of the ideas may also work well for you and your team!

1.  Setting up a Budget/Team Dues

In many areas of the country parents now pay dues for their child to participate in a high school sport such as tennis. Setting up a team budget that includes trips, uniforms, match day refreshments, etc. will help set the dues structure (note: you can offset some of these costs with team fundraising, see ideas and examples on!

 2. Organizational Meeting

This meeting can set the tone for the whole season – be organized!  Have your practice and match schedule finished and handout to players and parents.  Explain your policies, expectations and how the line-up will be organized.  Ask for a “commitment” from your players (note: we make things easier for you with these handouts on!

H146 Team Expectation Meeting

H147 Team Practice Calendar

H148 Team Schedule Overview

 3. Line Up and Team Building

Coach Record uses a double elimination tournament to determine the boys and girls lineups. Usually the positions are set for the season, unless a player slumps badly or a player left out of the lineup makes dramatic improvement. Once this “stressful” time is over a team building session such as a cookout, giving out uniforms or fun trip is scheduled (note: the Team Manager function on will set up challenge matches, tournaments and keep team and player statistics)!

 4.  Naming Captains

Captains play an important role for a team and their responsibilities can vary. Keep the communication open with your captains and make sure they know their roles and your expectations (note: a lot of our drills on can be self-run, captains can also with the energy of the drill and practice)!

 Here’s a sample drill:

 Good luck with your season.  You can find other helpful information and free samples at!


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.


DoCPlT564 Moving with the Ball II

This practice drill will help players improve their court coverage in doubles. This practice drill is similar to DoCPlT563 but the starting point is a little different forcing more movement and communication. Start with two players on the baseline one behind the other and a team waiting to come in and two players one on each side near the alley as tosser’s.  One or two other teams will start on the opposite side, one team ready to play at the net in a line one player behind the other. One of the players on the side will toss and a baseline player will move over and hit the ball down the line and his partner moves to the correct positioning.  The net team moves the correct way and the point is played out.  For the next point the other player tossing tosses to his side and players shift and the point is played out.  A new team comes in at the baseline and at the net and the sequence is repeated.  Eventually teams will rotate positions as the tossing team becomes a hitting team.  This drill will easily accommodate 10 players per court.


Doubles Practice Drill

DoC569 Crosscourt and Away

Here’s the start of a series of progression drills for doubles.  The coach starts at the net in the ad court with a player as his partner on the baseline on the deuce side.  Another player is at the net post in the “batter’s box” position.  The other players are in a line on the opposite baseline on the ad side.  The coach feeds a ball to the first player and s/he hits it back to the coach who plays the ball down the line. The first player moves over and plays the ball back crosscourt.  The point is played out between the three players with the doubles team playing to half the court.  The “single player” is trying to play mostly crosscourt.   Once the point is over and the baseline player can move to the net post as that player rotates to the coach’s side to start a new point (the player from the coach’s side moves to the back of the line on the other side).

Variation:  Substitute a player for the coach and the coach feeds to start the drill.

Serve and Volley Feel Drill

DoCPlT562 Serve and Volley “Feel” Drill

These doubles drills have a player or two as tossers allowing the coach to “coach” and can handle large groups on a single court.  Players that are tossing will also learn as they watch the drill progress.  The set up for this drill will have two players as tossers near the net posts either on the same side or on opposite sides of the net.  The other players are in two lines on one baseline one in the ad court ready to serve and the other line on the deuce side ready to serve.  A player hits an imaginary serve and moves in staying on that side of the court.  One of the players tossing will throw a sequence of three balls to outside side of the player moving in and they will hit three volleys back crosscourt.  The same sequence is progressing with the other line and the other tosser. Players then move back in line or rotate to the other line.

Variation: Players can hit a controlled serve crosscourt instead of an imaginary serve. Tossers can progress to throwing balls to the opposite line.

GPT226 Forehand Catch Opposite Hand Drill