The girls tennis team had their first match yesterday and I observed a few areas where we could improve. I gave some thought to ways to work on these things and made a plan for today's practice.
Later on in the day, we got onto the courts. The sun was shining, the wind was gently blowing and the girls were running around the courts, warming up before practice. I watched and realized that we had a full group today... 17 girls all at once.
When we have practice, I like to keep things moving, so no one is standing around. This is harder to do with larger groups, but with careful planning, it can be done. One of my challenges though, is projecting my voice, so it could be heard above the wind, the softball teams, the lacrosse teams and the 17 chatty tennis players.
I quickly modified one drill so that 2 players would play at a time and made it fast paced so that other players would quickly be up for their turns. The lines kept moving and the kids were playing. When a player wasn't paying attention, this caused a lull in the rhythm. So, I started to direct them by yelling a few directions of where to go on the court.
Pretty soon, my voice was carrying and the players were responding to my commands. I was yelling "Alley, Middle, Alley, Middle" like a metronome. It kept the kids moving, engaged and excited. (They had to hit a ball in the court alley, then move to the middle, then to the alley, then to the middle.)
Suddenly, the players were getting the hang of it and we had to add a second round and then a third round to my chant.
I looked up to see the kids moving really well and the ones waiting in line were no longer talking to one another. Instead, they were looking to see when it was their turn!
This was so exciting for me as a coach, to see the players engaged and ready to go. I felt that practice was very effective and we made a lot of progress. The girls worked on some tennis strokes and strategy. Hearing my voice during the drill encouraged them and directed them as to where to go. With that reassurance, they took the next step and focused on their game. I was thrilled with their progress and with my ability to project my voice. All is good! My throat, however, is a little sore.