USPTA Addvantage Magazine
Top 10 clauses to spice up your drills

by David Kamisar, USPTA
<i>Incentives make players try harder.
Incentives make players try harder.
November 2013 --

The key to good drilling is to get players to play hard with intensity and get their competitive juices flowing. To do this you need to award incentives. Clauses are a great way to add incentives. They make players try harder and force them to attempt things they wouldn’t ordinarily do in matches that are needed to get to the next level. The key is to make points more important, or award more points if they do what you want them to do. There are hundreds of possible clauses, but listed below are our top 10 that work. Although some of these clauses you may have seen before, I guarantee there are some you have not:

1. Clean Winner Clause – You can award a certain amount of points for a clean winner (a shot that is hit in the court and your opponent can’t touch) or put the challenger as champ immediately if they hit a clean winner. Note: winners can be specialized to be a clean winner volley, overhead, angle, lob, drop shot, etc.

2. Split the Middle Clause – You can award a certain amount of points for a clean winner up the middle (a shot that is a clean winner between and beyond your opponents) or put the challenger as champ immediately if they hit the clean winner up the middle.

3. Zeroization – If the champ hits a clean winner against the challenger, the challenger goes to zero regardless of how many points they had (in our drills involving the zeroization clause, usually the challenger needs 5 points total to become champ).

4. Wager Clause – If the challenger has 3 points (in our drills involving the wager clause, usually the challenger needs 5 points to become champ) they can announce the wager clause. The wager clause means that the challenger is betting 2 points. It is great if the challenger wins, since they become champ. However, if the challenger loses, they go to 1 point.

5. Consistency Clause – After the rally goes 6 times or more, either side can announce "4 pointer." Once the 4 pointer is announced (after the ball goes 6 times or more over the net), the rally is worth four points.

6. Do what you want them to do, or don’t want them to do clauses – examples:

A. If baseline players take over the net and win the point with a volley or overhead, it is worth 2 points.

B. Two points if the ball goes in the net.

C. If you serve and volley or return and come in and win the point two times in a row, you get the game.

7. Lucky 7 Clause – When players keep track of their points, they sometimes reach the magic number 7. When this happens, they announce lucky 7. If the player (who has 7 points) wins the next point (note they must announce the lucky 7 clause before the point starts) they get an additional 3 points (if the player that announces lucky 7 loses the point, they still keep their 7 points). Note: you could also have a defense of lucky 7 clause. This happens when the person announcing lucky 7 loses the point. When this happens, the opposition would get an additional 2 points.

8. Go Backward Clause – When doing drills where a player needs a certain amount of points to become champ, you should always have the challenger announce championship point before they feed the ball for that big point to possibly become champ. This will make the players (especially the champ who could get dethroned) play harder. For more incentive, you could add the Go Backward Clause, which states that on that championship point, if the challenger wins they become champ; however, if the challenger loses, they go backward one point.

9. Jet Express – Most programs do drills where, when time is called, the player with the most points moves up and the player with the least points moves down. Moving up and down courts based on points is a great way to drill since everyone wants to move up and play potentially stronger players. The problem is, each round may take 5 to 15 minutes before time is called and the person with the most points finally gets a chance to move up. The Jet Express solves this problem by having the player who hits a clean winner volley or overhead (or any other theme you want to add) move up immediately at that instant.

10. Bonus Clause – If a player wins 3 points in a row, they get an additional 3 points. Players must announce "Bonus Clause." when they are in the bonus situation (when they have won 2 in a row).

Alter any of the clauses to fit your needs. You will find that with special clauses the group as a whole will try harder and get better. It is even possible the players will play beyond what you thought was their potential.

David Kamisar is the Match Play Director at Sports Club of Novi in Novi, Mich., and also works as a tennis club consultant for clients seeking to buy or sell tennis clubs.

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