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View Full Version : Reasonable rally length for junior mid-teen players?


OrangeOne
08-23-2007, 09:08 PM
I help with the training of a group of local junior players, from a fitness-training perspective. I do some coaching too, but not usually of this group, I coach some younger players and some beginner adults.

Of late I've been sorta helping coach them, a little by default.

I'm keen to hear the opinion of other coaches, especially the very experienced ones. My big goal for all of them is consistency, they are very much of the 'winners are what the game is about' mentality. I want to see them be able to hit 80% strength rally balls, deep, with directional-control and a safe amount of spin, over & over.

Q: For a group of mid-teen juniors (14-16), what is a reasonable rally length to demand from two of these players on a court? Their level is probably between, say, 4.0 and 4.5, with one or two just below or heading just above.

What about 4 players hitting in doubles mode? Different or same length?

(Assume the rally starts from a feed, not from a serve, and assume hitting winners is explicitly banned - aiming for shots like the above, 80%, safe-deep, rally shots).

Gantz
08-23-2007, 09:19 PM
with a good player, i can usually rally up to at least 10-15 balls before we start going aggressive. from what you say, it seems like they're all baseline blasters.

OrangeOne
08-23-2007, 09:23 PM
with a good player, i can usually rally up to at least 10-15 balls before we start going aggressive. from what you say, it seems like they're all baseline blasters.

Well, the whole point of the drilling I want them to work on is for them never to go aggressive, I want them to be able to maintain a long hitting session and work on their consistency.

You didn't mention: are you a coach? or a young player? and your level?

Solat
08-23-2007, 09:51 PM
1 more then they made

Gmedlo
08-23-2007, 10:03 PM
I'm in the same boat as your juniors... But the sad thing is that I don't have the same mentality as them, I just try to construct and finish points too soon. I don't know why I always break down after 5-6 shots. Just doesn't make sense to me.

smoothtennis
08-23-2007, 10:10 PM
I hear from quite a few junior parents, who watched tons of competitive junior tennis, that their biggest problem is just what you say. They don't rally well, and go for too much most of the time.

I am not sure you can ingrain that, but I hope you can. I think they should be able to hit a minimum of 6 balls (each person) with 75-80% aggressiveness on their shot. Not 100 power, but closer to 75, with the specific goal of accuracy of their shot, with the intention of dictating the points, while keeping their opponent one step behind in the rally.

After they have their opponents on the run with aggresive shots...they should slowly and naturally take over the court position until they force the error, or get the winner without having to hit harder to end it.

I am just a 4.0 chump...but I see what the good tournament guys do to win.

dave333
08-24-2007, 07:49 AM
I got 35 with a good partner once. We really had to concentrate though. Just kept hitting down the middle with medium pace and good spin, always around the same depth.

I guess we had no choice because our coach said we'd have to do 3 court suicides if we didnt' get at least 25.

I'd suggest around 20 though.

Trinity TC
08-24-2007, 10:35 AM
60-70 each...but don't punish them if they can't do it. Your concentration and focus really starts to kick in at 40 mark. It will give them the security that they can hang with the rally kings in a pinch...plus it's a good foundation if they have any kind of power game at all.

I don't coach juniors but my guys focus on 100-125 each on their consistency drill days but don't beat themselves up if they can't do it on that particular day. It's more of an attitude than an actual do or die kind of thing.

dave333
08-24-2007, 10:37 AM
^^^^ Wow....my mind would blow up having to hit 100 in a row.

Trinity TC
08-24-2007, 10:48 AM
I'm in the same boat as your juniors... But the sad thing is that I don't have the same mentality as them, I just try to construct and finish points too soon. I don't know why I always break down after 5-6 shots. Just doesn't make sense to me.
It's because you know you're getting to your maximum mental limit. See if you can break the 40 consecutive shots in practice. The rule of thumb is you can do 20-25% of maximum practice number...in a game situation. 10-15 consecutive in practice translates to...:)

Trinity TC
08-24-2007, 10:55 AM
^^^^ Wow....my mind would blow up having to hit 100 in a row.
Yeh, yeh...your mind starts to blow up real good at the 40 mark the first few times but once you cross that threshold...it's easy street. You kind of get a mental second wind if you can push yourself through the 40 barrier.

The jump from 40-100 is much easier than getting from 0-40 consecutive.:p

edit:...even making the jump from 0-20 consecutive is more difficult than 40-100

burosky
08-24-2007, 10:58 AM
I don't think there is one magic number that you should focus on. It all depends on the players who are hitting. I would tend to think that the number will vary depending on the playing style of the two players. For a counter-puncher that number is probably high. Higher perhaps for a defensive specialist. For an agressive baseliner, that number might be low. I would imagine even lower for a serve and volleyer.

I understand you want them to develop a stroke that they can count on at any time that would allow them to keep the ball in play (rally shot). Every player need to have such a shot.

You might be confusing your players if you ask them to hit 80% strength rally balls, deep, with directional-control and a safe amount of spin. Except for directional control, these are all abstract terms. If you say 80% strength to a player, what exactly is 80%? When you say hit it deep, how deep did you mean and when you say safe amount of spin, what is safe?

One drill I found to be effective is having them rally just using the doubles alley and have them keep score. This will force them to do what you had in mind. At first it may appear to be too difficult for them. As they figure this out, after a while, something will click and they will naturally "tame" their power and use enough spin to keep the ball in play. You can progress this to having them use just half of the singles court so they can incorporate hitting winners.

Gmedlo
08-24-2007, 11:27 AM
You might be confusing your players if you ask them to hit 80% strength rally balls, deep, with directional-control and a safe amount of spin. Except for directional control, these are all abstract terms. If you say 80% strength to a player, what exactly is 80%? When you say hit it deep, how deep did you mean and when you say safe amount of spin, what is safe?


I never really got this: 80% of my stroke speed would be winners almost every time (against the people I play). 50% or lower seems like a more reasonable rally speed– even pros don't rally at 80% of their full shot/speed capacity.

Thanks for the tip Trinity TC: for a second I thought you were calling me stupid :lol:

fgs
08-24-2007, 11:31 AM
this is what i do: start out with eight balls = eight tries. they would have to hit 20 consecutive shots each of forehands crosscourt (divide the court into half). then go for the bh cross, and then the longlines. don't tell them anything about 80% force at all, they will start out slow and then, when they feel more secure they will pick up the speed by themselves anyway. first they'd have to get 1 20-shot rally out of each 8 tries or otherwise they'd make 50 push-ups. next time they got to be making 2 rallies. if they manage to make 5 rallies out of 8 tries you can consider going one step further, that is length - only balls landing behind the serviceline count and you start out again at 1 20-shot rally per 8 tries for each of the four sets. after you have worked them up to 5 again, you narrow the court again by taking 1m away from the center of the court, so the target areas get smaller.

Trinity TC
08-24-2007, 02:55 PM
Thanks for the tip Trinity TC: for a second I thought you were calling me stupid :lol:
Oooooops...sorry about that.:oops: :oops:

What I meant is that you reached the level that you had trained for...man this isn't coming out right is it??

Anyhow, you are quite capable of having a lot more staying power before you pull the trigger...and crush your opponent's morale.:p