Generating interest from the beginning is key to developing a lifelong love for tennis. You can tailor your beginning games to the number of players you have available and their skill level.
A game that provides both warm-up and skills practice on the serve is a game called School. Have players begin on the service line to practice serving the ball into the service box on the opposite side of the net. Once a player has successfully landed three serves in, she has graduated kindergarten. Then, she steps back to a cone or spot where she must successfully land three serves in. Players graduate from elementary school to middle school to high school. By the time a player can serve from the baseline, he has graduated from college.
Another game to help players with skills practice and warm-up is called Net Vantage. It’s a fast-paced game to teach volley and half-volley skills. Divide students into groups of five. Have each group line up on the side of the net facing each other. Each player shakes hands with the person directly in front of him. This person is his teammate. All players must have at least two tennis balls in their pockets. On the signal, players step back to the service box line. One player drop hits the ball toward his teammate who then lets the ball drop before he returns it. The team that can hit four half volleys is the winner. Once mastered, replace half volleys with volleys.
Playing Out Points
Rallyball works well for beginners because points are played out and participants are able to play instantly. Assign players to teams. Place two opposing teams on opposite ends of the court. The “server” drops the ball and hits it into play. Rotate players who begin the point. Play the point out. Teams earn points every time a player is able to hit the ball over the net and have it land into the doubles court. The first team to win 25 points is deemed the winner.
Singles Ruler of the Court is played using two players per court. Pick a player as the designated “Ruler” player. Place her on one side of the court while the rest of the players are waiting in a line back by the fence. One person in line steps up to be the challenger. Points are started with an underhand or overhand serve from the challengers’ side. Play two out of three points. If the challenger wins, he will replace the current Ruler.
Rulers of the Doubles Court is played with the same format as Singles Ruler of the Court with one exception: Doubles teams play against each other. Chose a designated Rulers of the Doubles Court team and challengers step up two at a time to play two out of three points.
Get Out and Rally
Player(s) of the Hill is another points-playing game. This game works with either singles or doubles. Designate one court as the “top” court. Assign players to courts. Play rounds in 10-minute intervals with players/teams keeping point score. At the end of each round, the player/team with the higher score moves up to the next higher court while the player/team with the lower score moves down to the next lower court.
Nothing beats live points. One-on-one points can be played varying ways. Both players stand just outside of the service box on the deuce side of the court. The object is to rally the ball back and forth only using the forehand groundstroke. Play two out of three points. Then, have players move to the advantage side of the court to play two out of three points only using the backhand groundstroke.