CYA Travel Tennis Skill Progression
The minimum requirements to play CYA travel tennis include being able to maintain a rally from the baseline, get a serve in play consistently from the baseline, and to be able to keep score and position themselves for singles and doubles play.
However, this should only be the beginning of their development process.
Here are the developmental progressions necessary at the travel tennis level:
GROUNDSTROKES: Consistency MUST be the foundation of your game. That is, you don't make mistakes that often. Next step is to add offensive skills to your consistent foundation. To qualify for travel tennis, you must demonstrate a minimum level of consistency. To improve your consistency, and to lay a foundation for adding offensive skills, you must demonstrate the following:
1. To produce forehands and backhands efficiently. That is, you must consistently get sideways (coil your body) once you recognize the shot you need to hit. The main power source must be the uncoiling of your shoulders and hips in sync with the hit. The backswing should not be your primary power source.
2. To hit the ball consistently in your strike zone. The strike zone for your rallyball (the ball you hit when rallying from the baseline in a neutral position with your opponent.) should be approximately at waist level. To do this, you must recognize the flight of the incoming ball in relationship to the net. If the ball comes to you with high net clearance, you anticpate moving back. If the ball comes with lower net clearance, anticipate moving forward. Second, you immediately start moving your feet to position yourself in RELATIONSHIP to the incoming ball in order to hit it in your strike zone. Finally, the goal is to be still and on balance as you strike the ball. So hitting consistently in your strike zone requires three things:
-Balance on contact
3. Target selection. The best player on the court does not always have the best strokes. The best player many times combines their strokes with proper target selection better than their opponent. Target selection must be closely aligned with the concept of having a consistent foundation. That means that targets must incorporate a MARGIN FOR ERROR. There are two targets that must be selected each time you hit the ball: 1) high how over the net and 2) where on the court you want the ball to land.
For net targets, generally the further you move from the net, the higher over the net you aim. And vice versa, the closer you are to the net, the lower over the net you aim.
For oncourt targets, you must aim several feet inside the sidelines and baseline to give yourself margin for error. While you must ALWAYS have a specific target, you also must assume that rarely will you ACTUALLY HIT your target! Basic oncourt targets include aiming down the middle for maximum margin for error. As you progress in your development your rallyball target should gravitate more toward crosscourt targets. This target has built in margin for error over the net. The net is at its lowest in the middle where most crosscourt balls will clear. Crosscourt involves using the diagonals of the court. The court is seven feet longer on the diagonal than it is down the line. Hitting crosscourt is your first effort toward developing offensive skills, in that you are making your opponent move to get to the ball.
4. Developing topspin. The next step in developing offensive skills is incorporating topspin on the forehand and backhand. Topspin allows you to develop a fast swingspeed, adding the element of power and maitaining a consistent foundation. Topspin incorporates a fast swing speed, a more powerful shot, and includes margin for error into your shot.