This is what the Yale men's tennis coach. Alex Dorato, says about his tennis practices with his team. Thought maybe some people would be interested or have comments. Looks like he's doing a really good job and I like his practice format. Running an effective practice is critical to enabling your players to reach their potential each day and in the long run. As college coaches, we have a limited amount of time for our practices, usually about two hours a day, and making the best use of that time is essential to our team’s success. Below, we have outlined the structure and the principles that we have incorporated into the organization of our team’s practices. Structure Of Practice In General. We structure a practice session to go from high volume (hitting a lot of balls), to high intensity (match play). The high volume of balls hit at the beginning of practice allows our players to get grooved so that when they play points at the end of practice they are at their best . Pre-hitting Warm-up (10 min) Our warm-up can be something as simple as jogging around the court to break a sweat followed by 5 minutes of stretching. Warm-up (20 min) Once we are loosened-up we take 20 minutes to warm-up our strokes; 10 minutes of hitting ground-strokes followed by each player taking 4 minutes of volleys and 1 minute of overheads. Drills (40 min) We break our drills down into 2 groups; pattern drills and point play drills. Pattern drills (20 min) Any drill in which the players know where the ball is coming, and where they will hit the ball is a pattern drill. There are 2 types of pattern drills; pattern drills without movement and pattern drills with movement. Without movement This includes drills such as hitting crosscourt forehands, or keeping a rally down-the-line in the alley. With movement Pattern drills with movement include drills such as Figure Eights (one player hits crosscourt while the other hits down-the-line), and 4-Corners (one player hits all shots to the deuce court while the other player hits to alternating corners). Point play drills (20 min) These are drills in which players can chose their shots. For instance, a ground-stroke game to 11 points would be a point play drill. There is any number of variations to a ground-stroke game – we could have them each hit an inside-out forehand to start the point, or we could have them hit 6 crosscourt backhands to start the point. Serve & Return (20 min) During this part of practice we might work on 2nd serves one day, 1st serves another, or a combination of both. Match play (30 min) This time can be used to play singles sets, doubles sets, or tie-breakers. We sometimes keep score in different ways – have the server start each game down love-thirty so that they learn to battle from behind, or we might limit each player to one serve to work on our second serves. Principles of an Effective Practice The principles listed below help us to maximize our time on the court: Set goals for the day and goals for each drill: At the beginning of practice we go over what we will be working on that day. Examples of our daily goals include: hitting with more depth, eliminating unforced errors, developing a weapon, hitting high percentage shots, attacking short balls, finishing points at the net, etc. We also set a specific goal for each drill. For any drill (for example, simply hitting crosscourt back and forth), we modify the parameters in any number of ways to help us achieve our specific goal for the drill. If we want our players to improve their net clearance then we might have them do 5 push-ups for a net error. If we are working on depth then we might have them aim at targets placed deep in the court. If we are working on consistency then we might have them keep track of their longest rally. There are endless ways of altering the parameters of a drill to achieve the goal of the drill. Have fun while working hard: Having fun makes our players look forward to being on the court and enables them to maximize their potential to learn. Working hard instills in them a sense of confidence and accomplishment. Keep everyone busy: We design all of our drills to keep our players busy. This in turn makes practice fun and keeps them focused from the first ball they hit to the last. Structure drills to compete: The more often our players compete in practice the better they will compete in matches. To this end, no matter what drill they are doing, we have them competing. The winners might get a reward; they can get a drink of water while the losers pick up balls, or we give them praise in front of the whole team for a job well done. At other times the losers might be punished; they might do push-ups for an unforced error, or they can bring the winners a cup of water. Other times we there will be neither a reward nor punishment (other than the intrinsic reward or punishment of winning or losing). Keep focus high: Usually we change drills every ten to fifteen minutes. In this way the players never get bored and they can maintain maximum concentration. Competing and goal setting for each drill also keeps focus at a maximum. We even set a specific goal for the warm-up (such as fewest unforced net errors wins) so that our players are focused from the first ball that they hit. Our players perform best with structure and discipline. Keep your explanations and goals specific and simple! Make every shot count; make every drill matter; make your players work hard and extend their concentration and fitness in every practice. If you mentally and physically prepare a great practice every day, your players will reap tremendous dividends. A good practice helps your players get better; an organized, intense, and competitive practice best prepares your players for competition. Through careful planning and encouragement, your players will be confident and ready to perform at their highest level when “match time” rolls around.