TRY AGAIN (209)

I heard a rumor that the USTA tried to buy the rights to pickleball.  No deal.

  1. Try again.  Why?
  2. Pickleball has sold itself already.
  3. The USTA has never sold a leadup game that can match pickleball’s potential.
  4. Pickleball can add 8 million USTA memberships over the next few years.
  5. How many kids like the Williams sisters didn’t have a father who made that effort? Minority kids, as well as poor kids can gain access to this game.  And it will erase the feeling that “…that game is too rich for me (or mine).”
  6. The issue bigger than pickleball, the USTA, or tennis, is the health of our youngsters. Public education should include embrace pickleball by lining school tennis courts for pickleball, and including it in the physical education curriculum.
  7. My guess is the links between pickleball and tennis and not only many new players, but some very talented players,will emerge.

SQUARE HOLE, ROUND PEG? (208)

Is it possible to house big time college athletics (with market values), philosophically within the purview of American higher education?

Today’s article by George Will  (College basketball season begins under odiferous clouds) includes a quote from Michael Oakeshott :  ” To try  to do something which is inherently impossible is always a corrupting enterprise.”

A BACK HAND “GRIP TRAINER” (203)

A BACK HAND “GRIP TRAINER”

Perhaps the most significant tennis change in recent history is the development of the two handed backhand.   Even young players can tattoo an offensive topspin groundstroke.   No reasonable coach disputes that.

Jim Verdieck was a great coach whose business card stated “I didn’t change anything, I gave you a new one.” The addition he referred to is a one handed underspin slice or chip.

Young players have trouble developing this shot, as a strange new grip is required, and new forearm muscles must be developed and trained. The many functions this new grip enhances is worth the work required (defensive backhands, lobs, all volleys except high forehands, the service, etc.).   Recently I experimented with

a simple home made teaching aid: A balloon tied with a light string (2 to 3 feet long) to a badminton racket’s center string or “sweet spot”/  Note that the very light racket and balloon allow a classic one handed backhand volley, aided by a backhand grip.

Having recently worked with high school players, too few know the value of this tool.   Young girls and little boys struggle and it takes time. However few quality players are without this ability.

This drill allows almost immediate success with proper technique, using the new forearm muscles needed. The youngster will tell you quickly: “…I can feel that pulling my arm muscles!” Don’t allow them to overdo this and cause tennis elbow.

 

 

SIX MAN FOOTBALL (206)

I played six man football in the late 50’s in North Carolina.   Recently  I googled you tube six man football.  Texas has about 200 small high school six man teams.  The clips posted vary in length.  Some are game film.  Some feature the small Texas towns and youngsters who play today.  One team has only six players on the squad.  Yet state playoffs feature the same rabid atmosphere as all high school teams.

While the kids are mostly small, there is some “de-cleating” out there.  The field is 80 yards long rather than 100yds.   Think about it, six players  (or 12 on both teams) on 80 yds vs eleven (22) on 100.   Lots of space and speed and fun.   Check ’em out–the youngsters are great.

And no, they don’t play 3 man basketball.

FOOTWORK FOR BEGINNERS (205)

The first strategy is IN.  Consistency.  Next it is deep at the backhand.  Nine of ten players are right-handed.  Thus the primary target is on his/her left hand side.  Given that you know that, accept they probably know that too.  So–lots of backhands are coming at you.

Much so that the center of your defense has shifted to your left.  Given that good hit spots and position give you good shots, movement to that position is crucial.

  • Tennis starts in your eyes and brain and goes to  your feet and legs immediately.  Here is a beginning footwork drill for newcomers:  It is done without a racket or ball.  ONLY FOOTWORK.  And  mimicking several shots you will have to master.
  • The basic two handed backhand  (make the stroke like the ball is hit several feet to your left.  ALWAYS RETURN TO THE MIDDLE OF THEIR BEST SHOT, USING PROPER FOOTWORK-BEGIN WITH A QUICK WALK-LIKE FOOTWORK TO THE BALL. USUALLY SHUFFLE STEPS BACK TO CENTER.
  • Defense against the moon ball or very deep looping.   Footwork now is turn and run and loop the descending ball back.   Run to return.
  • On the rise.  Quick walk-like footwork to proper hit-spot before it gets too high or behind you.  Shuffle back.  Most of these shots will be cross court.  On really well hit deep balls, lob it or simply block it back to the middle.
  • Run around your backhand and hit your forehand  to his backhand.   This is the emerging tactic for those whose forehand is better.  Turn 2/3 or more of the backhand side into a forehand with footwork.   This is a different footwork.  Have your coach hit you a ball to the middle, then move his second shot to the middle of your backhand.   Tricky and intense footwork is needed to make your response a forehand.
  • Volley the passing shot.   If the shot to you is floating or weak, you maybe able to run quickly and volley the shot down the line to the opening.  While a skilled procedure, foot work can make it a winner.  Better be ready to run or scramble back to home base.   REALLY GOOD PLAYERS MAY FOLLOW THIS VOLLEY TO THE NET.
  • These, then, are the shots to mimic.  Next you run the cycle moving with the proper footwork and mimicking the proper shot and footwork back to home base, then on to the next shot.  Perfect the above order one through five.  Then vary the cycle with any number of possible combinations.

RE -EXAMINATION, APOLOGIES AND RE-AFFIRMATIONS (204)

  • I apologize to our women.   USOPEN SEMIFINALISTS!
  • Few good Americans develop without high school tennis.
  • Girls high school teams and girls of limited ability are the most neglected learners and often the most receptive.
  • The maturing of our women’s league players, coaches, and administrators is a gold mine of help for high school girls teams.  Boys too.
  • There are a lot of different ways to help our high school teams and coaches.
  • The two  toughest teaching spots are  developing  a working one hand backhand grip for 1. the slice and 2. the advanced serve.