Trainers' rallying vs feeding balls practice

#1
I wonder about the approach to practices in which the coach feeds the balls and in which s/he rallies baseline to baseline with the trainee. What should the percentage of feeding balls vs rallying in a practice be with top players in youth tennis players? Different aims in the development process may provide some answers but still I sense there may be some direction from the best in this business.
 

atp2015

Hall of Fame
#2
I wonder about the approach to practices in which the coach feeds the balls and in which s/he rallies baseline to baseline with the trainee. What should the percentage of feeding balls vs rallying in a practice be with top players in youth tennis players? Different aims in the development process may provide some answers but still I sense there may be some direction from the best in this business.
If you want to get better, play only serious matches - preferably just the very high level.
 
#3
This is a really good question. I've experienced both, and have had good results with both. I see far more rallying than feeding, but it might be beneficial to do both. I do a Spanish training drill that features close in feeding with an emphasis on 2 or 3 shot sequences that are used to build points and teach footwork patterns. It's great stuff, but I think you need to rally too. I'd say maybe 50/50, but I don't see that - I see almost exclusive rallying.
 
#4
I wonder about the approach to practices in which the coach feeds the balls and in which s/he rallies baseline to baseline with the trainee. What should the percentage of feeding balls vs rallying in a practice be with top players in youth tennis players? Different aims in the development process may provide some answers but still I sense there may be some direction from the best in this business.
Great question. Seems like the best coaches in the world aren't going to also be your hitting partner. Younger coaches seem happy to do both but it may dilute the objective of a single hour lesson.

@Shroud Did John Yandell rally with you?
 
#5
I don't have any tips on what the percentage should be, but I used to think hand-feeding wasn't worth much but then when I realized that when you get no pace floaters and need to hit a ball that is going to give you the advantage in the point those type of feeds are very important especially at the rec levels. Relaxing and putting your own pace on the ball with those kind of shots I think is more difficult than hitting a big ball in a rally when you can use the pace. So i attend a weekly workout 1.5 hours where its all fed balls (not hand, but not rally pace) really helps to relax and swing free...gain confidence in full swings and timing.
 

ChaelAZ

Hall of Fame
#6
I feed balls to kids if we are trying to develop stroke technique or footwork patterns so things are predicable. I rally with them when they are learning how to apply those techniques in more 'real world' situations. Not sure what high level pros do.
 
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#8
I think it's good alternative to have 2-3-4 people doing training same time. This way trainer does feeding first ball, calls drills, comments on hits. On other hand because of several people most of the drills are some kind of rallies with some competitive part in it (for me it's very important :) ).
 
#10
This is a really good question. I've experienced both, and have had good results with both. I see far more rallying than feeding, but it might be beneficial to do both. I do a Spanish training drill that features close in feeding with an emphasis on 2 or 3 shot sequences that are used to build points and teach footwork patterns. It's great stuff, but I think you need to rally too. I'd say maybe 50/50, but I don't see that - I see almost exclusive rallying.
Imo this is mostly right and depending on where you are in the cycle of training. Right before a tournament....more rallying but improving or tweaking a skill will take more feeding. There should be a balance based on where you fall in your training at that time...
 
#11
I think it's good alternative to have 2-3-4 people doing training same time. This way trainer does feeding first ball, calls drills, comments on hits. On other hand because of several people most of the drills are some kind of rallies with some competitive part in it (for me it's very important :) ).
I've had another coach assisting me on one corner while I was on the other. My son, on the other side, had to return the baseline balls from both of us. He ran corner to corner to return while we waited for his shots to return either along the line or cross court balls.


Rally to each other, drills with hitting to each other (targeting, point play drills, tactical situations etc), play points..most of the time is more useful.
True. For some of this work, however, more skillful and perhaps professional coaching staff is needed.

I feed balls to kids if we are trying to develop stroke technique or footwork patterns so things are predicable. I rally with them when they are learning how to apply those techniques in more 'real world' situations. Not sure what high level pros do.
This is what I also am curious about, doesn't have to be pros though. A top kid has just got pulled out of the U10 finals that my son just finished in China. This local kid fron Jiangsu is really amazing. Well, Zheng Jie appears to have just sent him to some sort of secretive "local tennis boot camp". When my wife, son and this kid and his family were having dinner at Zheng Jie's party after the end of the year finals r (tournament), they couldn't clearly disclose to us where this fantastic 10 year old tennis kid was to assume his training (in Beijing). Anyhow, there are many secrets about the training practices of some top youth or adult players. I wonder how open it is in those famous school too.


....i attend a weekly workout 1.5 hours where its all fed balls (not hand, but not rally pace) really helps to relax and swing free...gain confidence in full swings and timing.
That's great but whole hour and a half. I'd say it would be more worthy to break those session into shorter ones and use them as a warm ups prior to a rally with a focus on something.


Seems like the best coaches in the world aren't going to also be your hitting partner. Younger coaches seem happy to do both but it may dilute the objective of a single hour lesson.
Yeah, I don't count on anyone but myself...well, and the tennis warehouse :) Single hour lessons with coaches who keep looking at their wrist watch during the practice are usually waste of money and time.


If you want to get better, play only serious matches - preferably just the very high level.
I find this helpful prior to competitions. Doing this on regular basis may bring issues, to my knowledge. There are injuries that come out of such practices, or there is insufficient progress due to the style the players use which the trainee adjusts to unnecessarily.


I'd say maybe 50/50
This is a reasonable percentage suggestion. Yet, it may depend on who the trainee is and all the aims, timing and purpose. My son now, for instance, has just finished his final end of the year U10 top 16 Chinese kids, and so I see no reason to drill him with something extraordinary which is why we're relaxing with rallies more often than before the tournament. I don't know if I am doing the right thing and/or have done the correct prep as he clearly isn't the number one kid in China. But that may be for so many reasons why he isn't. Skills that I have not passed on through the practices to him is one thing, his talent and character another.

All in all, I feel bitter I haven't prepared my boy well enough to the U10 finals where an amazing kid from Jaingsu China and at least a couple of other 10 year old virtuosos knocked off my (and my son's) socks. Incredible they truly were. Now, I am hoping to gather some info on how to proceed without any assistance except you guys and the tennis warehouse. From January 2019, my son's crossing into U12 which requires some serious adjustments.
 
#12
I
Yeah, I don't count on anyone but myself...well, and the tennis warehouse :) Single hour lessons with coaches who keep looking at their wrist watch during the practice are usually waste of money and time.
Same here. I study sureshs' teachings and then practice on the wall until I get the hang of something new and then introduce into playing on court.
 
#14
What should the percentage of hammer use vs screwdriver use be in home repair?

Depends what you are working on.

I've spent entire sessions just doing hand feeds, just doing basket drills, and just hitting.

J
 
#16
Hi tennis bro. I see you are in China. I'm not sure of the tennis court situation there.

I have a TRN 5 star kid 17 years old in USA. That's in the top level of junior kids in USA that will not be going pro. But play college tennis. After 10 years of tournaments and 5 or 6 days per week practice I think I have it distilled to one thing really.

Time on court. As long as technique is around the correct methods. Time on court.

The best players work on specific situations and shot patterns that they find in their own matches. Tailored to the exact needs of each individual player.

Practice serve every day. At least a little bit. Even at 11 years old. 20 to 40 serves after practice should be fine at this age. Try to hit different spots and spins. By 16 the serve needs to be a weapon. It will take years. Start now.

See what is making your son lose points in matches. Then next practice work on that specific scenario. Make a drill that mimics that situation. Make sure you find all the specific match situations that your son is losing points on. And practice that. After every match. Regroup. Strategize. See what is needed.

Build a weapon. Does he have a knack for backhand? Forehand? Turn one into a Weapons. So you have something to use as a weapon to go along with his hopefully accomplished serve. . Keep building it. Need a way to finish a point

Hit tons of balls. Fed balls. Live ball. Practice matches. Real matches. 5 days a week. Doesn't matter if only short practice sometimes. But play 5 days a week.

Time on court. Time on court. That's the secret. Really.
 
#17
Dear Roger,

I am glad to see someone like you has taken time to follow up on the thread's topic.

There are many courts and young tennis players on mainland China, and the weather in Southern China (especially in Fall) is pretty good to play.

What you are saying, in a summary below, is quite a valuable guide for amateur coaches such as I am.
Time on court.

Tailored to the exact needs of each individual player.

Practice serve every day.

See what is making your son lose points in matches.

Build a weapon.

Hit tons of balls.

Practice matches. Real matches.

5 days a week.

Time on court. Time on court.
I sense the need for an increased time for and a more significant part in the rallying which i do not feel I have paid enough attention to so far. All the technicalities of footwork, forehand, backhand, volleys and overhead smashes have seemingly bored my 10 year old boy who's been itching to hit more baseline to baseline shots than be told how to hit them precisely.

Cheers,
Bro
 
#18
If you want to get better, play only serious matches - preferably just the very high level.
lol, no.
playing matches is just the test to see if you've improved.
real progress comes in practice... presuming you're practicing the things that need to be improved (vs. mindlessly hitting from the center hash of the baseline).
...and hopefully you're taking notes from the matches, as to what areas specifically need to be practiced.

do you think your serve, for example, is gonna miraculously get better by playing more matches?

[edit] nm, i think my sarcasm meter is broken :p
 
#20
Dear Roger,

I am glad to see someone like you has taken time to follow up on the thread's topic.

There are many courts and young tennis players on mainland China, and the weather in Southern China (especially in Fall) is pretty good to play.

What you are saying, in a summary below, is quite a valuable guide for amateur coaches such as I am.


I sense the need for an increased time for and a more significant part in the rallying which i do not feel I have paid enough attention to so far. All the technicalities of footwork, forehand, backhand, volleys and overhead smashes have seemingly bored my 10 year old boy who's been itching to hit more baseline to baseline shots than be told how to hit them precisely.

Cheers,
Bro
Almost every serious junior competitor has to manage injury prevention. So be aware of the stress of the kids body. 5 days a week tennis is rough. My son can get to 5 hours a day 6 days a week at times (from age 15 to 17. ) It's tough. It's a lot of tennis. Almost too much to manage.

That little pain in wrist? Slight knee pain. Do not think it doesn't matter. It does.

Ice after every practice. My son does an ice bath every day right after practice. Started this at 13. This amount of tennis is not normal.
 
#21
Almost every serious junior competitor has to manage injury prevention. So be aware of the stress of the kids body. 5 days a week tennis is rough. My son can get to 5 hours a day 6 days a week at times (from age 15 to 17. ) It's tough. It's a lot of tennis. Almost too much to manage.

That little pain in wrist? Slight knee pain. Do not think it doesn't matter. It does.

Ice after every practice. My son does an ice bath every day right after practice. Started this at 13. This amount of tennis is not normal.
Oh, man! My son looks so strong on outside but weak inside. Injuries like wrist, knees, lower back, shoulder have not been uncommon at all. We've enjoyed the services of a local blind massage therapist who's assisted us greatly. He's often suggested 1-2 days off and then to go on which has worked perfectly well. One thing that's interesting he's sometimes told us to use the cold therapy immediately after the injury that you've pointed to as well but warm a day later. At times, he said not to come to him right after the injury but a day later. Truly amazing Chinese therapist that any pro could use well. Any injury truly matters when it comes to such a workload; if taken care of fast and well, no problem but if neglected, 3-4 day therapies won't help anymore.

5 hour court-time's inhumane. Prior to a few tournaments I previously have used the split shifts as I have broken the large amount of practice into one in the morning and one in afternoon/evening which appeared to have digested well even with a 10 year old. Such practices are cruel but if planned and managed friendly/efficiently they maximize the kids' potential. The issue that I have with such days is that i get more stressed and tired as the coach than my son as the trainee and that i spend so much more time on planning and traveling back and forth twice daily then. Needless to say and as you've pointed out that injuries in such conditions are very difficult to foresee.

Anyhow, feeding balls for a lengthy period of time may put young players at a risk of getting hurt, continuous rallying will most likely do the harm if not supervised accordingly. How to do this all in the right way remains up to the professional experiences and the sciences that all should cooperate so that we have the best of best on courts in years to come.
 
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#22
Oh, man! My son looks so strong on outside but weak inside. Injuries like wrist, knees, lower back, shoulder have not been uncommon at all. We've enjoyed the services of a local blind massage therapist who's assisted us greatly. He's often suggested 1-2 days off and then to go on which has worked perfectly well. One thing that's interesting he's sometimes told us to use the cold therapy immediately after the injury that you've pointed to as well but warm a day later. At times, he said not to come to him right after the injury but a day later. Truly amazing Chinese therapist that any pro could use well. Any injury truly matters when it comes to such a workload; if taken care of fast and well, no problem but if neglected, 3-4 day therapies won't help anymore.

5 hour court-time's inhumane. Prior to a few tournaments I previously have used the split shifts as I have broken the large amount of practice into one in the morning and one in afternoon/evening which appeared to have digested well even with a 10 year old. Such practices are cruel but if planned and managed friendly/efficiently they maximize the kids' potential. The issue that I have with such days is that i get more stressed and tired as the coach than my son as the trainee and that i spend so much more time on planning and traveling back and forth twice daily then. Needless to say and as you've pointed out that injuries in such conditions are very difficult to foresee.

Anyhow, feeding balls for a lengthy period of time may put young players at a risk of getting hurt, continuous rallying will most likely do the harm if not supervised accordingly. How to do this all in the right way remains up to the professional experiences and the sciences that all should cooperate so that we have the best of best on courts in years to come.
When the player gets older and stronger (for my kid around 13) and they really start putting in the hours you ice every day right after workout. Not just when injured. Just as part of the recovery for the next days workout.
 

FiReFTW

Hall of Fame
#23
lol, no.
playing matches is just the test to see if you've improved.
real progress comes in practice... presuming you're practicing the things that need to be improved (vs. mindlessly hitting from the center hash of the baseline).
...and hopefully you're taking notes from the matches, as to what areas specifically need to be practiced.

do you think your serve, for example, is gonna miraculously get better by playing more matches?

[edit] nm, i think my sarcasm meter is broken :p
Progress comes in practice and matches, I disagree a bit with you.

Practice is extremely important to hone skills, learn new techniques, new skills, new shots in ur arsenal aswell as improve your current skills accuracy, power, precision, ability to execute in different scenarios, learn patterns, tactics etc...

But practice is nothing without constant and very frequent match play, ive learned that the hard way, the level and the shots and the stuff im capable in practice is not even close to my match play level currently.

I also talked to my coach aswell as some others in a club about this, and even on some youtube videos, and they all say match play is absolutely crucial, without it practice is almost useless.
Because it doesn't matter what you do or practice in your practice sessions, or what you learn and are capable of doing there, taking that and applying that and executing that in a match is a whole different thing, and it takes alot of frequent match play to be able to do that, aswell as learn to handle different pressure situations, and learn to play different shots, opponents, learn to problem solve, win points etc..

Practice gives you the tools, but matches teach you how to use those tools aswell as handle the pressure for your tools not to break down.

https://www.tennisconsult.com/importance-practice-matches/

 
#24
Progress comes in practice and matches, I disagree a bit with you.

Practice is extremely important to hone skills, learn new techniques, new skills, new shots in ur arsenal aswell as improve your current skills accuracy, power, precision, ability to execute in different scenarios, learn patterns, tactics etc...

But practice is nothing without constant and very frequent match play, ive learned that the hard way, the level and the shots and the stuff im capable in practice is not even close to my match play level currently.

I also talked to my coach aswell as some others in a club about this, and even on some youtube videos, and they all say match play is absolutely crucial, without it practice is almost useless.
Because it doesn't matter what you do or practice in your practice sessions, or what you learn and are capable of doing there, taking that and applying that and executing that in a match is a whole different thing, and it takes alot of frequent match play to be able to do that, aswell as learn to handle different pressure situations, and learn to play different shots, opponents, learn to problem solve, win points etc..

Practice gives you the tools, but matches teach you how to use those tools aswell as handle the pressure for your tools not to break down.

https://www.tennisconsult.com/importance-practice-matches/

tomato tomatoe
of course you need both.

if all we did was practiced, we’d lull ourselves into believing we are better than we are (which many people do in all areas of life - our resident lobster comes to mind, as well as every self proclaimed 4.0+ that has never played a usta match/tournament/etc,... ). In my mental model, match play is a “test”... where the best things learned about myself, are usually when I “fail” my test (ie how am I losing points).


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
#25
tomato tomatoe
of course you need both.

if all we did was practiced, we’d lull ourselves into believing we are better than we are (which many people do in all areas of life - our resident lobster comes to mind, as well as every self proclaimed 4.0+ that has never played a usta match/tournament/etc,... ). In my mental model, match play is a “test”... where the best things learned about myself, are usually when I “fail” my test (ie how am I losing points).


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Did you ever see Jet Li's Fearless?

J
 
#26
if all we did was practiced, we’d lull ourselves into believing we are better than we are (which many people do in all areas of life - our resident lobster comes to mind, as well as every self proclaimed 4.0+ that has never played a usta match/tournament/etc,... ). In my mental model, match play is a “test”... where the best things learned about myself, are usually when I “fail” my test (ie how am I losing points).
Without being tested, we truly are in the dark. Not knowing whether our service, forehand, backhand or footwork work against opponents who have their own weapons, we may not know how good (or bad) we are. This suggests that more rallying is to be done during practices that should be with a variety of players/coaches. As for the matches, how often do you think should the trainees play (join in tournaments)? There are the top U10, U12, U14 etc. and they need to develop to their potential.
 
#29
At the end of the movie he said when he was young he thought competition was about beating people, but when he was older he learned that the purpose of competition was to reveal your weaknesses because the true battle is against yourself.

J
ah. imo a universal truth. I definitely learned it from my own martial arts training. any drills you practice you have to pressure test (sparring).

when i was a kid I got my “black belt” from tkd... I thought I was pretty good. definitely “pretty”. i could do splits like van damm, and kick the head of someone a foot taller than me. my first street fight I got my ass kicked. the kid basically tackled me, and mounted me until I said “uncle”. years later that “test” then led me to “real” martial arts like muy thai, eskrima, and bjj... where those arts get pressure tested regularly, if not daily... where there’s no room for delusion and ego.


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#30
I feed balls to kids if we are trying to develop stroke technique or footwork patterns so things are predicable. I rally with them when they are learning how to apply those techniques in more 'real world' situations. Not sure what high level pros do.
I do the same. Also, kids need to hit with each other since there is no way the pro can simulate the strange and crazy balls kids will hit when they are playing.
 
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