Further update on Select-a-Drill
Had a great session last night with my girlfriend. In the past, when we use the machine together, we've either just taken turns (which usually works out well since she's better and likes more challenging speed settings) or we just do two point baseline drills (ie: set the machine to fire alternating balls to the ad court baseline outside corner and to the opposite corner about every 1.5 seconds, so we're each getting a ball once every 3-ish seconds). The latter works OK as a static drill (and is especially good for me) but doesn't involve any movement so it's not a "workout" and it gets kind of boring.
So last night I decided to experiment more with the Select-a-Drill function. My goal was to emulate two drills we've done in one of the weekly clinics we attend:
1) Alternating baseline shots to the middle of the ad/deuce court - we both line up at the baseline hash mark and take turns moving a few steps, hitting the shot, then clearing out wide and back around just in time to split step as the next ball is ready for us (meanwhile, the other person is hitting their ball). This worked out really well - with some adjustment of how far out to "clear" we could time it so that we were hitting our split step just as the ball was being launched. This provided good practice at movement and also a very nice workout since we were constantly moving and running around to hit a new ball every 4-5 seconds.
2) A more complicated drill: Start at the deuce court outside baseline corner (not sure if there's a better way to describe that - basically, the rightmost baseline corner of the doubles court) - hit one baseline shot near that spot, then an approach shot somewhere near the middle of the deuce service box, then a volley at the net in the ad service box. I might be getting my terminology muddled, but basically, you'd move on a diagonal towards the net, and moving to your left, hitting a forehand at the baseline, forehand approach shot, then a backhand volley (usually)... then the next person would go, starting at the opposite corner and reversing the direction (and usually hitting backhand, backhand, forehand). After some tinkering (both with the machine settings and with our timing and footwork) this also worked GREAT. It was a really good drill for me since I'm abysmal at volleying (having just learned how to do them about 2 weeks ago) and my GF says she needs work on her approach shots.
So last night's session really sold me on the utility of the Select-a-Drill -especially for keeping things interesting and creating a much more intensive workout. The settings are sometimes a bit finicky and we did notice a weird phenomenon during the second drill: the balls seemed to steadily drift deeper into the court as we went through the hopper. Not sure if this has something to do with the lighter load as the hopper empties, but it was quite noticeable - in the beginning of the drill, the baseline balls would bounce 2-3 feet inside of the baseline and by the end, they were landing almost at the baseline. We ran through two hoppers full of balls for this drill and noticed the same pattern each time. It wasn't that big a deal, but it was interesting.
At some point I'll take some videos of these drills and post them up for reference.