Start Your Season with the Right Plan

With Spring Practice about to start in some areas of the country having the right plan can make things easier for you (and staff) and help create more success and improvement with your team. Here are some ideas and examples:
Divide and Conquer: A team will usually have different ability and skill levels. You may need different plans (drills, topics) for each group. For example, the focus for your JV or development group may be more on introducing skills and techniques while for Varsity your plan can be more specific such as doubles strategies!
Team Activities: It’s important to spend time with the team together in areas such as fitness/stretching, group games building the “team” and off court workout (handouts, mental toughness, etc.).
You can find many different practice plans on! You can also easily search for drills for a specific topic or group size! Here’s a team building exercise:

Trust Me!
A lot of kids in high school have big egos that can easily shatter to pieces for many reasons. While interacting with this group try to instill a strong feeling of “belongingness” teaching them how to work together as a team.
To play this trust building game, divide the players into two teams and each team starts at the net on one side of the court. Choose one leader and blindfold the rest. Place a number of objects such as chairs, racquets, bags, books, or other objects. The leader is standing at the finishing line which is the baseline and has to guide the players on his team to cross this path full of obstacles. The catch is that if any of the team players touches an obstacle, the entire team has to start all over again from the starting line! The team which crosses the hurdles successfully in minimum attempts is declared the winner.

Here’s another tennis specific team building exercise from the site, use the drill search for: GaPr606 One racquet tennis


Teaching New Tennis Skills

Here are some ideas to help develop new skills in players:

  • Use repetitions; players learn by doing – hit a lot of balls!
  • Use progressions; for example you can break down the shot into parts such as shorter swings starting closer to the net.  Also practice individual shots before putting them together such as a groundstroke, approach shot, volley and then overhead!
  • Add pressure; players need to develop confidence in the new skill.  Add some fun pressure and stress games and drills in practice!
  • Repeat; players may need to repeat the different stages for the successful development of the skill!

For some sample drills to help your players learn new skills visit!


Adjusting Your Practice Drills for Levels

Tennis can be challenging and at the same time frustrating for players.  Here are some ideas for your practice when dealing with different levels:

  • Use targets in drills
    • You can adjust the size of the targets for levels and or use smaller targets inside a larger target area
  • Use a variety of goals
    • You can change the “number goal” for levels.  For example one player may need to hit 60-70% of good serves while other players are trying for 50%
  • Use a variety of feeds
    • Players can self-feed
    • Feed from same side of the court (toss-feeds)
    • Feed with or without spin

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!

Mid-Season Practice

Here are some things to keep in mind when practicing during the middle or near the end of your season because there are some challenges keeping the practice fresh and motivating your players (and yourself).
1. Practice at Game Speed; add some variety with your practice by having shorter practices on some days but emphasize effort and energy level – “Game Speed”!
2. Set up a New Season ( or goals); new individual or team goals can help motivate your players
3. Play in the Now and Finish; you and your players can not change what has happened in earlier matches and practices (but they are learning opportunities). Learn from them and then move on, coach in the now! Love the game and what you are doing!