When working with elite players we need to ensure that we create a little more pressure in the practice environment. This ensures we can add the extra ingredients required that are missing when we are in a match situation. It also ensures we produce players rather than hitters.

Once fully warmed up we can then pressure

  • Hitting Drills
  • Situation Practices
  • Match Scenarios

Hitting Drills

Taken from SYSTEM-9 Yellow Ball.

Before commencing the drill all 3 players agree on a forfeit for the outcome which can be anything physically tennis related. This provides the focus and pressure to work in the drills.

Baseline to baseline to volley consistency drill

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Practice 1: Single player hits to baseline player who hits back into that half. Next shot is for the volleyer to hit back.

Practice 2: Single player has full singles court. Baseline player hits at will, volleyer must co-operatively volley back to singles player. Singles player must alternate shots as with above.

This is a great deal for receiving two types of balls from both players and is continued for 3-minutes each before rotating.

The baseline players count how many mistakes the volleyer makes before rotating around.


Situational Practices

Taken from SYSTEM-9 Singles Tactics.

I like practices that ensure we surpass the first 2-3 shots as much as possible (although there are many drills in the green ball book that cover these). This ensures we get to the meat of the point rather than finishing each point early.

Again, ensure the forfeit is agreed by all players before, perhaps the winner is the one who decides the forfeit for the remaining 3 players!


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  • Player 1 hits T serve
  • Player 2 feeds return ball to server (mainly fed to backhand, but mix up accordingly)
  • Server and Player 3 continues to play out point
  • Player 4 serves next rotating on off with Player 1
  • Rotate players every 5-minutes according to the table with players noting points on the scorecard


If a player double faults, or hits an unforced error in the 2 shots after the feed, then deduct one point from the individual score                                                                


  • Play team singles with all players 1/4 vs 2/3 starting with T serves
  • Winner stays on for maximum of 3 points and then rotates with partner
  • Losing player of each point is replaced by partner
  • Play 7.5-minute games before changing roles
  • All players keep individual scores throughout


Match Play Scenarios

Not all forfeits have to be physical, at the end of each loss players leaving the court must talk about how they would have played differently in the previous mini match.

However, to add that pressure atmosphere in a team of 8 players let us give the players coming 4 and 5 the forfeit by the end of the next match play scenario.

Freezer Box

  1. Players play singles (or doubles) on courts
  2. Remaining players wait out
  3. Play short scoring (tiebreak, best of 3 games)
  4. Winner stays on and scores one game, loser heads to freezer box
  5. Next opponent enters the arena
  6. First player to 6 wins (can be time limited also)


Enjoy the tennis, and as my good friend Razvan says ‘Trust the Process’



Andy Dowsett
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