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The JKST way of teaching

We at JKST feel that more than anything our camp provides the tennis camper with a rewarding lifetime experience.  The experience encompasses many areas from the great tennis instruction they receive on the courts to the many new friendships they establish.  They meet people from different parts of the world and from different cultures.  We do not wish to be just another camp where they played tennis, but more as a well rounded experience.


Every child we encounter is unique.  We structure our camp to take into consideration the many needs of the individual.  While some players respond very well to certain approaches, we urge you to be always flexible in your approach to teaching.  


On the tennis court we expect our coaches to build what a player already has.  We aim to enhance the players game and work together with their pro at home.  Some students may express a need for some major change in their game.  This being the case we strongly urge that you the coach must spend the necessary time with the student.  Changes take time and need a lot of reinforcement from you the pro.


Keep your minds open and remember it can be the summer of your life time.





Qualities of a successful coach


You will spend hours out there on the courts and the strongest quality you may need is your ability to work with different personality types.  We truly hope that you have a good grasp on grips, strokes, tactics, and the mental game to help your students.  The fact is you will need more than just the technical part of the game.  You will be forced to wear several hats over the course of your teaching career.  The following is a list of few

-         Teacher

-         Counselor

-         Drill Sergeant

-         Organizer

-         Friend

-         Disciplinarian

-         Role model


It is very important that you are able to adapt to several of the above roles.  Taking the pulse of a lesson is perhaps the best way to start when first engaging your students.  Get to know them as people and then try to get a sense of what their needs are.  Always think back to all the different teachers you have had and draw all the things you had liked the most about them and then formulate your own method.



Our Thoughts on Teaching the game


Coaching and working with young kids is a privilege. We hope to impress on each and every coach that works with us the importance of knowledge and empathy. The world of research and experience has taught us vital considerations in terms of educating kids and understanding individuals.


Coaching Styles

Kids learn differently even on the tennis court.  There are many different coaching styles used today to develop a tennis student’s game. You must be attuned to who you are teaching and how they learn. Not one style works well with everyone so you must be able to adapt your teaching style to the student. There are three major coaching styles which are used by coaches today.


The Command approach which was more common years ago places the coach in a dictator role. Players are expected to obey without question every demand the coach imposes upon them.  An example of a command coach is Bobby Knight, who until recently was the most successful college basketball coach for Indiana University.  He was forced to resign his position because he abused the command approach of teaching athletes. At the same time, his insights into basketball and principles have provided many good tools for the modern coach.


The Submissive approach is often found in the less experienced coach who strives to befriend his students more than coach them.  In the submissive approach the student dictates the terms of the relationship.  Over time this style makes it difficult for the coach to impose demands on his students. The positive aspect of this style is that initially the student will enjoy the experience but may become very frustrated as they do not improve.


The Cooperative approach is becoming widely adapted and the best understood style in the coaching world. This approach uses aspects from both the command and submissive styles. It says to the students that we can learn from each other as long as we listen to each other. This is a delicate balancing act for the coach to both impart his knowledge and still allow the student the freedom to question. A good example of  a modern day cooperative coach is Phil Jackson, who has won more NBA titles than any other coach in the games history.


It is imperative that the modern coach is able to adapt his style of coaching to what method works best with the individual student. Students absorb information in a multitude of ways. We encourage our coaches to adopt the Cooperative approach







Learning Styles


Learning through your senses

Use your senses of sight, hearing and touch to learn on the tennis court. The most common style of learning is through sight. A common practice in teaching is to show the student what the stroke should look like and then have them copy what they see.  After they have hit the ball, the coach shows them what their attempted stroke looked like.


People also learn through auditory means. They like to have the skill explained to them so as to understand all the pieces that make up the whole.  The last sense which people use on the court is touch. As an instructor, you can put your hand on their racquet and swing their racquet with them to demonstrate what the swing feels like. In summation, most players will employ more than one sense to learn a set of skills.


Judging Preferences

We have learned from research in psychology that people make decisions based on their feelings and their ability to think. Even though one might use both methods, one will always be more dominant.  In general, one who is a dominant “feeler” is more likely to be empathetic to others. Someone who is a stronger “thinker” may tend to make decisions in a more matter of fact way. A “thinker” is more objective while a “feeler” is more subjective. Very often this is a major factor in considering what type of style should be adopted.  “Thinkers” tend to gravitate towards more of a command approach where “feelers” quite often may need the sensitivity of the cooperative approach.





Aspects of the Game


Tennis is a game of a lifetime, and we want our students to see it this way.  Although we all may seek instant results, we here favor a long term approach where students continually improve.  The game is divided into 3 important areas:

-         Mental

-         Technical

-         Tactical.



      We teach players the concept of being their own coach.  We help them become problem solvers rather than someone who is constantly asking “what did I do wrong?”

We also want to make them feel comfortable to the idea that the only way to progress in this game is to make mistakes.



      It is important that we evaluate and correct strokes to a point that a player may

1.                  Become more efficient.

2.                  Not be limited in any way.

3.                  Continually build on that stroke.



1.                  Teach the players that without strokes they will have no tactics.

2.                  Develop their own tactical strengths, before becoming overly concerned with tactics they need to play various player types.

3.                  Most tactics are pretty simple in theory.  Becoming a good player is a matter of learning the ordinary and developing the ability to do it extraordinarily well.





Teaching technique is an art in itself.  Our full time pros have the advantage of having the same students on a continual basis.  It is much easier to implement changes and reinforce and encourage over a period of time that is necessary for adjustments.  The summer however lends a very different situation.  The players who train with us may spend anywhere from 3 hours to 6 weeks with the same pro.  With a limiting time factor in our hands it is vital we make changes which are necessary but can be reinforced in a short time.


The ability to hit the ball where you want when you want with the greatest amount of power, and the least amount of adjustment is an efficient stroke.





Do grips affect efficiency? You bet.  Certain grips suit certain situations.  The grip system we use is endorsed by the USPTA and as far as we know is the most comprehensive grip system.


The grip number system is as follows

# 1 is the Eastern Backhand

# 2 is the continental

# 3 is the Eastern Backhand

# 4 is the Semi Western

# 5 is the Full Western.


We draw attention to 2 parts of the hand, namely:

1.      The heel pad of the hand

2.      The base knuckle of the index finger.


Try and visualize a diagonal line joining these two points.  When reference is made to a specific grip, make sure these two points are touching the specified number.





An efficient stroke is one that produces the greatest control, and greatest power, with the least adjustment.   

Accuracy is defined as your ability to hit the ball where you want it to go, when you want it to go there. If a player can do that 3 out of 5 times they will have little need for your technical expertise.


The four efficiencies of a ground stroke are:

-         Racquet face is vertical at hit.

-         Swing goes towards the intended target.

-         Racquet comes from below the ball.

-         Swing produces power (The loop)


Racquet face is vertical at hit

      Altering the racquet face to hit the ball higher or lower gives the player too many variables to adjust to.  1 degree of racquet face variance can equal 6 feet of length on the other side.  The ball is only on the strings from 3 to 6 thousandths of a second, so the strings better be facing in the right direction.



Swing goes towards the intended target

      This may sound too basic but wherever the swing goes, the ball goes.  If the strings are facing in the right direction, get them to go in that direction for as long as possible.


Racquet comes from below the ball

      Whoever invented the game certainly knew how to make things tricky.  Not only is the court narrow, it is also short and has the net as an obstacle between you and the other side.  To impart topspin on the ball the racquet head has to drop at least 12 inches below the intended contact point.  It is essential to coordinate the three point landing which gives the racquet a good chance of getting below the ball.  The landing of your foot, Racquet, and your butt at the same time is called the 3 point landing. 


Swing produces power (The loop)

      A loop gathers momentum from the top of the swing and straight back accelerates from the bottom.  The loop is a much shorter swing than the straight back swing.  It is also easier to disguise the shot you are about to choose.



The New A G E System

(Accelerated Game Enhancement)

We enhance strokes rather than changing them. Research has shown that a ball hit by a tennis racket is on the strings for approximately 3 – 6 milliseconds. A millisecond is one thousandth of a second. The EFFICIENCIES are based on the 3 main factors that are present in a great swing at the point of contact.




By tracking on the follow through the racket face has 12 inches of surface area to the contact the ball and send it to the desired target. By having a vertical racket face the balls elevation is controlled by the low to high swing/



Targets should be a part of every days theme. Groups can be divided into 2 teams – 1 side hitting forehands, the other hitting backhands. Every time team member hits target the score goes up as in 15 love. Teams rotate sides so that both strokes are practiced.


Targets can be incorporated into volleys, serves, approach shots, and basically any strokes that need feedback from the coaches.




Please refer to player’s folders for visual graphics on stroke production for all the major strokes.





For years the learning of this stroke has caused many a headache.  The feeling is that there is not enough understanding of necessary ingredients that go into the making of a serve.


Ingredients for an effective serve



Player has a continental (#2) grip.  This allows player to go through a full serve motion, similar to a throwing motion.  This grip lets you spin the ball two different ways and allows you to hit the ball with lots of power.  The Eastern Forehand (#3) grip is used when starting a player off because they are guaranteed initial success.  This grip can also generate decent amount of power but it is very difficult to spin the ball.


Shoulder/Body Turn and ball release

If you ever watched someone throw or pitch the ball, you will notice most of the first part is accomplished by turning/coiling the body.  This motion is done in a slow pace.  The end of the coil finds the racquet in a palm down, elbow up position.  This is crucial for the player to accomplish a full swing in behind their heads.


The toss should be out to the right hand side (right hander), until a player starts to get into spin variations.  Having the ball on the side allows shoulders to uncoil and produce a smooth swing.


The uncoiling into the hit

Just like the throw motion, the optimum efficiency is achieved by letting the arm go out to the side as the body uncurls.  Although you lose about an inch in extension, the player will gain power and control.


The 3 types of Serves:

-         Flat.  A first serve which has very little spin.

-         Slice.  The toss is to the right and you hit the outside of the ball and move the ball away or jam the receiver.

-         Kick.  The top spin serve that makes the ball jump to the right and high.



      The volley is the dying stroke in the modern tennis game.  With the extreme grips and lack of grass tournaments have decreased the importance of this stroke.  But it is still important to volley well to round out your game.

Keys to a good volley

-         Split step.

-         Line your racquet, eyes, and the ball.

-         Hit the ball with a bit of slice.

-         Move through your volleys.



      If you are not there to hit the ball then your strokes are just not good enough.  It is important players are taught to move efficiently and use proper steps top facilitate proper weight transfer.  Tennis players require a quick first step and therefore we as coaches must work to improve the development of the quick twitch muscles.







The Directionals were developed by Paul Wardlaw a College coach and in our opinion are one of the most powerful tools to help a player understand shot selection under pressure. A player may have great strokes, be extremely athletic and still find it difficult to come up with the right shot in the right situation.  


It is very important to train your mind to recognize opportunities in match play even while under stress. This allows the player to make smart tactical choices in pressure situations.


Many players cloud their senses when under pressure (choking) They are so busy trying to make decisions that they do not see what ball has been hit to them or where it is coming from.


The directionals are a very powerful teaching tool and extremely simple.


Any ball traveling across your body before you hit it is an outside ball. To understand this imagine you and your opponent standing on the baseline in the middle of the court.  If your opponent hits a cross court shot the ball has traveled across your body when you hit it.   Generally speaking outside balls should be hit back to the outside of your opponent.


An outside ball can be hit to the inside of your opponent when

1.      You can take the ball early

2.      Your opponent is out of position

3.      You can take the ball early AND Your opponent is out of position


Any ball you are able to hit before it crosses your body is an inside ball such as a shot hit down the line.



Inside balls generally should be seen as an opportunity to attack either your opponents inside or outside.


Why the Directionals?


1. Tactically, players don't have to think about shot selection before each and every ball.  Once the pattern of inside/outside is ingrained in a player’s mind she will not have to devote much thought to deciding which shot to hit. 

2. When you are under pressure, you can use inside/outside to shift pressure onto your opponent’s shoulders by hitting outside balls.  This forces your opponent to change direction and forces you to play more aggressively

3. When you are attacking and controlling the rally, you are waiting for the short ball or an inside shot.  Once you understand this, you will recognize your opportunities more quickly and thus take advantage of them more effectively.

4. By using inside/outside, you can often anticipate where your opponent is going to hit the next shot. For example, if a player naturally hits inside ground strokes to the outside court, you can immediately cover the open court.

5. You will learn to play percentage tennis by not changing directions at the wrong time. Your accuracy and consistency will therefore drastically improve.

6. If an opponent is hitting too many winners, you can analyze his/her tactics using inside/outside and defuse his weapons.







Clinics are the bread and butter of our summer camp.  The morning sessions are primarily dedicated to drilling in a clinic atmosphere.  It is important that you have the pulse of your group and use your personality to be really successful in teaching the group.

-         It is important that you get the clinic underway as soon as possible

-         Important issues may needed to be addressed before the first ball is hit but be careful not to spend too much time talking.

-         Get to know their names.

-         Make them hit lots of balls before you play games with them.

-         Also remember this is their summer camp and its important for the players to have fun and learn at the same time.

-         Teach technique in clinics without compensating the tempo of the clinic.

-         Play games to teach them the art of competing.

-         Playing too many games and points can lead to the following.

o                               The player never realizes that they can hit the ball better.

o                               Shortcutting their improvement over a period of time.

o                               Making life miserable for the next coach teaching them.


Challenge yourself to introduce games that have some purpose.  Get them to do specific things which will encourage them to improve shot selection in a match.  Clinics are a great time to influence players thoughts and build their tactics.


Types of Drilling


Drills can be defined in 3 basic categories.  It will help you a great deal to know what level your players are at as to what type of drilling will best help them.


Block Drills


The player hits the same shot from the same position.  The ball will almost always be in the exact same spot and the player will not have to make many adjustments.  Beginners need to spend lots of time with this type of drilling.  Players making changes to stroke and patterns should spend time doing block drills.



Variable Drills


Player hits the same shot from a number of different positions.  Once a player has developed their skills in block form, they can further develop them by adding variables.  A simple progression from block to variable would be making a player run to the ball after hitting it in a stationery position.


Random Drills


The player could hit any shot from any position.  One could say that a player with good technical skill should spend a great deal of time doing variable drills.  This type of drilling improves the players retrieval ability.


Every clinic should have a mixture of the above 3 types of drilling. 








“Safety always comes first”                         “Keep their feet moving”


“Keep everyone involved”                          “Education, Exercise, and Enjoyment”


“Attention to Technique”                             “Plan your drills, then drill your plan”




Knowing how to work with different number of kids on a court can be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful session.  We pride ourselves on the fact that kids hit a lot of balls while they are with us.  One of our key philosophies is teaching kids how to understand scoring through rotation. The premier scoring and rotation system at our camp is what we call the positive/negative game.


2 & 1


If you are the server, and can concentrate on winning two points in a row, the receiver can never break you.  While receiving the goal is to focus your energy on winning one out of every two points.  This results in a situation where “The server can never win”.



Players each pick partners.  One team is alone on one side of the net.  They are considered to be the receiving team and they can score points.


We y always stress that the first ball must be hit crosscourt, and from there the point is played out. Games can be scored any way you want. For example three points can be given for a volley winner if you are focusing on that particular shot for the day. If the players first shot off the feed goes to a volleyer then the ball merely needs to be within reach (Not necessarily crosscourt)

Same player scoring (Used for equal numbers from 4 to 6)

Pair the players off in two’s. These pairs then play against each other for 2 points before switching sides. The first shot is always hit crosscourt.

Once one player reaches a designated score, all players stop and higher score wins from each pair playing wins.


When kids ask, why do we have to change sides? the answer is “So both players get the feed.”



Working with 3 or 5 (Odd one out)


1 player is the odd one out. They stand next to the net post in center of the court and rotate in when either:


1.      Player misses off the feed.

2.      Player hits a ball in the net.


The other players stay in until they miss. Once a player commits an error he switches places with the player standing at the net post.














Being able to identify your own performance goals is of the utmost importance. Regardless of how well your opponent plays you should be able to focus and evaluate your play by using the aggressive margin technique.  Aggressive margin is the total number of points you win by hitting forcing shots and winners from which you subtract the total number of unforced errors. The benefit of using this system is that mentally and tactically you build awareness of the following:


Evaluating your opponents performance

Opponent’s unforced errors - points that your opponent lost through their own fault. This is where his weaknesses lie.

Opponent’s winners/ forcing shots -These do not count against you. They are, however, an opportunity for you to decide if you provided your opponent with a shot that was easy to hit a winner off of. Also you discover which shots your opponent can hit especially well. This shows where your opponent’s strengths lie.


Evaluating your performance

Your unforced errors - Points you lost due to your own carelessness.  Most often this is due to poor shot selection or the use of an inappropriate strategy for the particular situation. 

Your winners/ forcing shots outright winners that you hit or shots that caused your opponent to miss.



You forced your opponent to miss while limiting the number of unforced errors you committed.




You have made many too many careless errors or you didn’t assess your opponent accurately. 


Performance evaluations by using the margin technuuiqu can be very helpful.  This theme should be used each day in some form and can be implemented using the positive/negative scoring technique.








The goal is to reinforce the points of the aggressive margin through drills.




ROTATION (4 or 6 Players)

If you win you stay in (a player can stay in for a maximum of 3 points. Losing players rotate out)


ROTATION (5 players) If you win you stay in, if you lose you move out.


Player sitting out takes the place of player who commits an error or can’t return a shot.




DRILL DESCRIPTION Coach feeds ball to either side. The first shot must goes crosscourt. Every forcing shot or winner adds 1 to your score and for every unforced error, subtract 1 from your score.


The game ends when a player gets to + 3 or – 7.





This drill helps players to recognize situations where it is advisable to change the direction of the ball.   Here is a simple drill to illustrate the directionals.





If the serving team wins two points in a row then they take the place of the receiving side. If the serving team loses either the first or the second point they are replaced with a new serving team.




To help players to understand when to hit to the outside and when to hit to the inside.



Coach needs to divide group equally into a scoring and non scoring side. Game is up to 21 or whatever number leader decides.


First shot is hit crosscourt and point is then played out on that side of the court. Player can win one point by defeating opponent crosscourt or make a 3 pointer by hitting back down the line.


If player goes for down the line (Inside) Opponent must leave ball to see if he makes it.





As with the directionals, assessing a situation is vital. Through this drill players understand when to play defensively and when to attack. Players put themselves in a position to score extra points by having hit deep balls.



Tactical awareness can be achieved by using a tape line on the court indicated a region a player must hit into.  For example a coach could set a rope 5 feet in front of the baseline parallel to it.  This helps player’s focus on hitting deeper shots.  You can use the service line as your marker as well if players are of a lower level.


Anticipation is key as very often an “EASY” ball will follow a make time ball.


DESCRIPTION (2 & 1 rotation)

1. Make time

 Coach feeds to the serving team.  If the point is won on a shot that has passed the indicated line then 3 points are awarded instead of one.  The game should be played to 21.




5.  EASY


One of our most popular themes is the easy theme. A shot is called easy because it is easy to miss. We encourage kids at camp to respect all situations.



To teach the kids that there is no such thing as an easy ball. Emphasis is put on the fact that short balls require more concentration then one might initially think.



      If the serving team wins two points in a row then they take the place of the receiving side. If the serving team loses either the first or the second point they are replaced with a new serving team.






To help players develop the mindset that you stand to gain far more by respecting an easy short ball rather than thinking it is your right to win it. Ever watch someone when they miss one J




Coach needs to divide group equally into a scoring and non scoring side. Game is up to 11 or whatever number leader decides.


Coach feeds an easy short ball to non scoring side who then tries to hit a penetrating ball. Player on scoring side has to try and chase down the shot and put it back in play.


Challenger : “It’s called easy because it’s easy to miss”


Defender must run one way or the other.


PRINCIPLE : “It is better to make a bad decision than NO decision”


Note – You can change the drill to challenge easy overheads or returns off weak second serves.





Grinders on the tour are the players who are known for their ability to work a point and keep working it. They are tenacious and are considered to be human backboards.


This is perhaps the hardest theme to run, but very important. Players are divided equally onto both sides of the court. The goal is to rally crosscourt to a number designated by the pro.


Advanced kids may have to reach 6 crosscourt balls (Alleys are good) before the point actually starts. In the case of 3 kids on either side of the court, player who loses point or misses before 6 is reached, is replaced by the player sitting out.


For weaker players they can move closer to the net and for more advanced players coach can add directives such as “You have to rally only outside balls for your first 4 balls.” Once the desired number is reached players can hit both forehand and backhand.




The focus is on players hitting their first shot deep versus trying to go for an angle. The intuition behind this is based on the fact that most players will have to hit a mid court volley off their approach shot. This leaves him in a vulnerable position to be passed by his opponent.




2&1 rotation.


Non scoring side hits a passing shot but it has to be hit within volleyers reach. They can dip it as low as they want. Scoring side volleyer must hit their first shot past the serve line for point to begin.


Adapt this drill to the lower levels. Could change the serve line to just saying it has to be deep enough for passer to reach.


*This theme can be adapted to DEEP APPROACH SHOT.




The return is the second most important shot in tennis.  2&1 rotation. Points are played out crosscourt. Only receiver can score. Game up to whatever number pro designates.





        Percentage play. 2.5 unforced errors are made to every winner or forcing shot. Big hitters don’t win in doubles.

        Players must move in tandem – “Aim down the middle, down the middle when playing opposing team that is two up or back.

        Set up your partner (assist)




        Never ever assign blame.



         All players should understand the 3 positions. 1 up and 1 back, 2 up, 2 back.

         Show how they vary according to where the ball is and what your opponents are doing.

         Eye control – focus on opponents.

         The battle between the Volleyer (POACHER) and baseliner.




 “Blackjack” 21      2&1 rotation “Player sitting out replaces the player

                                 Who makes the error”

Start in 1 up 1 back mode. Focus is on player at back to set up player at net. 3 points is awarded for an outright volley winner. 1 point is assigned for a point won off a groundstroke.


Offense Defense 

Objective is to take control of the net and move forward and backwards as a team.


Both teams start back. Whoever wins the first point starts the next point on the serve line. If they win that point the can then score. Team starting from backcourt has to win point to have opportunity to move up to serve line. Play is continuous, therefore when team loses point at net they immediately turn to chase a ball lobbed over their heads by coach.





Camp favorite “Player sitting out replaces player who makes the error”


Great drill for encouraging net dominance.

Both teams start back. Points are awarded as follows if a winner is hit in the following categories.


Overhead 30, volley 20, ground stroke 10, ball in the net 5 to other team, 1 point awarded for any ball that is hit out.



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