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Anthony,

I am now in my second season playing paddle and I absolutely love it!  The mindset where I play is pretty much practice = playing a set as opposed to doing drills.  I am sure we could benefit from doing some drills, but we don't have a pro.  What are some simple and effective drills we could use to improve our game?  Thanks much.

-Brett

Answer
Hi Brett,

Sorry for the delay in answering your question.

Very glad to hear that you're enjoying paddle, I gave up tennis shortly after discovering paddle myself - was hooked immediately!  

Your question is a good one - I remember thinking EXACTLY the same thing when I started playing.  I thought it weird that there really is no "practice" in paddle, it's come on out, warm up then play a game.  On-the-job training, I guess.  

I realize you don't have a pro, however, I would highly recommend finding one at a nearby club to help you get started so that you don't develop any bad habits that will be harder to break later on down the road.  

Absent that, let me give you my take on some drills and the order in which you should focus on them.

The hardest skill for a new player to master (even one with excellent tennis/racquet skills) is screen play.  You truly need to see thousands of screen bounces before understanding the angles and body positioning for the multitude of possibilities.  I would take this on first.  To drill screens, get a full hopper of balls and one other person (you don't need 4 on a court for this one).  Unlike match play, have your practice partner stand on the same side of the net as you, at the center strap of the net a step or two  away from it.  This is the easiest position to hit the best and most consistent overheads into the screens for this drill.  Pick a corner to work in - forehand or backhand, then begin.  First have the feeder hit back-screens only (simplest screen) for 20 minutes.   When practicing back screens two things are very important, staying back (close to the screen) as long as possible, then following the ball forward to keep it in front of you when you strike it.  You do not want to hit this shot from behind your body.  The second is to drop your paddle low and tilt the racquet face toward the sky as soon as you know the ball will strike the back screen, this ensures that you will have enough time and power to “lift” the ball for a good high lob.  After 20 minutes (10 minutes back screens to your forehand side then 10 minutes to backhand side) switch to corner screens.  Back/side then side/back (this refers to the order in which the ball strikes the screens).  

Next drill – Serve/Return/First Volley drill.  Most points at the beginner’s level never progress past these first 3 strikes of the ball, thus drilling this sequence will help you get deeper into points and allow you to have more fun playing them.  Again, only two people required for this drill.  Serve tip, GET IT IN; you only get one serve in paddle, getting it in is more important than hitting it hard or with spin, you can work on that later once you can get through a set with 4 faults or less (YES, a whole set).  Return tip, Drive it, but GET IT OVER THE NET; make the server have to hit the first volley.  Only hit it hard enough to ensure at least an 80% completion rate -strive for 100%!  First Volley tip; get to the net quickly but do not run through the first volley, it’s hard to gauge how hard to volley while you’re moving.  Check-up (stop or almost stopped) before striking the ball.  Don’t swing at it, let it come to you.  Come in with a back-hand grip.   This drill should be halted after the first three strikes.  Serve/Return/First volley, stop the point, switch to ad-court, repeat.  Count how many times you can get through all three hits successfully! 20 minutes.  

Many more drills, but start here and you'll have more fun, more quickly.  Feel free to check back with me later for more.  

Also, definitely take advantage of these websites with video instructions, pictures, and drilling help;  www.platformtennis.org and www.paddlepro.com, www.paddlecamp.com.  

Good luck and enjoy.
Anthony Cosimano  

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Anthony Cosimano

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Platform Tennis (AKA Paddle Tennis). Platform Tennis is played on a court resembling a tennis court but one-third of the size and surrounded by a chicken wire fence which the ball can be played off of in competition. I have been playing Platform Tennis on a National level for over 10 years. With my partner, I currently hold a National Ranking of 7th place. I have played with and triumphed over some of the top players in the nation and have been instructed by a 12 time national champion. I can answer specific questions on rules and regulations, learning to play, where platform tennis can be played (regions, country clubs, public courts, etc.), strategy, type of equipment, entering tournaments, obtaining lessons, playing singles and/or doubles, becoming a member of the APTA, becoming a ranked player, etc.

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