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WARMING UP by TennisTom

The very best way to warm up before playing is to stretch your muscles. [See the instructional “Before-Tennis Warmup Exercises”]

For early learners “Short Tennis” is an excellent first on-court warmup, as described below. If you are a more advanced player, you may choose to warm up by volleying, being fed by a skilled ball feeder if in a clinic, or by otherwise volleying vs other players across the net. Then after ten minutes or so you can continue warming up by hitting groundstrokes to each other, preferably in a manner that results in short sprints. Experienced players should take care to use proper form during warmup. There are other more elaborate pre-match warmup procedures which I will not cover here.


There are various versions of Short Tennis. Here are the rules I use in the Tennis Clinic:

  • Short Tennis. sometimes called mini-tennis, is a game for 4 players where all shots must land in one of the four service courts to be considered good. (It can also be played by 2 players on 2 service courts.)

  • Serving. Anyone can serve but the served ball must go diagonally from one service court to the other as in regular tennis. All serves should be soft, underhanded serves just to get the ball in play. Bounce serves are OK.

  • Neither the serving side team or the returning side team can score a point on the serve or serve return. If the serve is bad or the return is bad, the point is restarted.

  • As in regular tennis, a ball is considered In (good) if it is inside the playing area or if it touches any of the service courts boundary lines.

  • No overhead smashes or hard shots are allowed – if either happens, the point is replayed.

  • You should go for feel and placement, not power.

  • No volleys are allowed, i.e. the ball must bounce once before you can hit it. You lose the point if you hit a ball in the air before it bounces. If you run up to get a short ball, hit it back, and then the opponent hits your body (or clothes) with their return, it is the hitters point. The same rule apply in regular tennis.

  • If you or your partner touched the net during play, intentionally or not, you lose the point.

  • The first team to reach 11 points is declared the winner. You do not have to win by a margin of 2 points as in regular tennis.

Potential benefits of playing short tennis:

  • It’s good for warming up at the beginning of a lesson. Warming up will help you avoid injury due to cold, inflexible muscles.

  • It’s perfect for learning control on balls that fall short in the court as in regular tennis.

  • It develops eye-hand coordination as well as racket face control.

  • It gives new players a taste of competition – and some of its psychological pressures.

  • It teaches footwork – body rotation and quick movement in all directions.

  • It teaches you readiness - being on the balls of your feet with your knees bent.

  • It teaches you how to abbreviate (shorten) your stroke swing.

  • It provides you with an opportunity to learn soft “touchshots which develops “feel.”.

  • It provides an opportunity to learn communication with a partner (“yours” or “mine”).

  • It gives you first hand experience with the results of risky versus safe shots.

  • It teaches you basic court position, especially the perils of standing too close to the service line (which is similar to standing too close to the baseline in regular tennis), and the habit of recovery, which means returning to the best spot to play the next ball.

  • It develops tennis strategy from a viewpoint of shot placement rather than power.

  • It’s fun trying sneaky shots.

  • It allows you to more easily transition to drills or on-court tennis.

Important: Short Tennis is NOT intended to teach you good form. Topspin is not recommended, although slice (underspin) is encouraged. It is intended to offer you an opportunity to learn good habits other than form. It also allows your instructor to observe your unconscious tendencies and suggest corrections.

[3B-Warming Up by TennisTom, Including Short Tennis Rules & Benefits] [Revised 5-17-11]



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