|Playing Tennis Without a Court|
Finding an open tennis court isn't always easy. Most of us have run into situations where we showed up to play, then found no court available. Here are a few off-court tennis games and drills you can use to make the best of such situations.
String Catch: Learning to catch a ball on your strings is lots of fun and also useful in that it develops a good feel for softening the racquet-ball impact as one would do for a drop shot or drop volley. Start around 10 feet from your partner.
- Hit the ball gently toward your partner's forehand side, around waist-high.
- He tries to catch the ball on his strings, preferably without any detectable bounce.
- He gives you a similar feed.
- Once you get good from 10 feet, try 15, then 20, and so on.
- Backhand catches are much harder for most. Give them a try.
Volley-Volley: This familiar on-court drill can be done on any surface, including grass. Here's a progression of variations that will make it more interesting. For each of these, start around 20 feet away from your partner and try for 12 consecutive hits.
- First, try for 12 consecutive volleys of any kind.
- Next goal: all-forehand volleys.
- Now try all backhand.
- Next is crisscross, where you hit to your partner's forehand, she hits to your backhand, you hit to her backhand, then she hits to your forehand.
- Last, try the advancing volley, where you take a small step closer with each hit. Remember to take it easy on the power when you get close.
Bungee Tennis: This ball on a rubber band, tied to a heavy anchor, goes by many names. You can find one for $10-15 at most pro shops. It's like a portable backboard that you can use on any paved surface. You can even play a competitive one-on-one game:
- Divide the court into a left and right half, using the anchor as the divider.
- To prevent hitting one another, each player's shots must land on the other's half.
- All shots will bounce once at the rubber band's full extension, then the next bounce must be at least as far back as the block.
- Use traditional tennis or table tennis scoring.
Tennis Golf: This game may have limited usefulness, but it makes up for it in pure fun. Each player needs her own distinguishable ball.
- Just as in regular golf, the goal is to reach a destination in as few shots as possible.
- Set pars to make the game competitive. Where an advanced adult might have a par of three, a young child might have a par of seven. If the adult takes three shots and the child six, the child is ahead by one.
- Each player hits toward the first target, say a telephone pole.
- Wherever the ball ends up, the player may take one step, then hit again.
- Count how many shots it takes to reach the target.
- Proceed to the next target.
- One of the most fun parts of the game is getting to hit the ball as far as you can (which is never particularly helpful in regular tennis).
- Avoid targets near thick bushes, traffic, water, and other ball-eaters.