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Friday, November 4, 2016

Deep, Deep, Drop, Dink

"You have to pay your dues: Confidence comes from training. It comes from knowing that you have trained harder and longer than your opponent. It comes from drilling, and knowing that you can return a dink 20 or 30 times in a row. We trust because we have trained." - Sarah Ansboury

Yesterday's post, 1-2-3 Drill, described a drill from Sarah Ansboury intended to work on the first 3 shots of a rally - the serve, the return of serve, and the third shot. This drill can be adapted into a more fun exercise as described in my post from January called The 3D Game. The requires the serve and return of serve to land in a marked "deep zone" and the third shot to land in the kitchen. Failure to accomplish any of these objectives results in a fault.

I have been thinking about a 4-person drill extending the similar concepts of these 2 drill/games to include a fourth shot - the dink. Thus the name of this post Deep (serve), Deep (return of serve), Drop (into the kitchen), and Dink.

Before beginning the exercise, some preparation is required as described in the 3D Game. Use painter's tape to divide the service court in half from front to back on both sides of the court. The tape should be placed parallel to the baseline about 7 1/2 feet away. This tape represents the Deep zone in which both the serve and return of serve must land.

The court should look like this.

The players should align in normal positions and the first server (Player 1) should serve from the even court into the deep half of Player 2's service court.

Player 2 should return the serve to the deep half of Player 3's service court. The serve should be returned regardless of where it lands.

Player 3 should hit a drop shot into the kitchen in front of Player 4. The drop shot should be hit regardless of where the return of serve lands.

Player 4 should hit a dink anywhere into the kitchen of his opponents. A dink should be hit regardless of the quality of the drop shot hit by Player 3.

This same sequence should be repeated at least 20 times. Then all players should shift to their left (Player 1 to Player 3's spot, Player 3 to Player 2's spot, etc.) and then repeat the sequence for at least 20 shots. After 4 shifts, all players should have experienced 20 shots in all 4 positions.

Players should then repeat the process starting from the opposite side of their own court with Player 1 serving from the odd court.

At the end of the exercise, all players should have nearly 40 shots of each type - serve, return, drop, and dink - with 20 from each of the even and odd sides of the court.

Ideally, the exercise should be scored by an observer to to make players aware of their success (or failure) rates for each shot. The observer should also be qualified to point out why some techniques are more successful than others.

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I expect to set up a drill day at Crosswalk.  This will likely be the first drill we try as it should help to identify specific areas of improvement. It is my hope that we can utilize video equipment to review players' performance. We may kick this off in November. Stay tuned for further information.

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