Teacher's Pets

by: Jon Levey | April 24, 2014

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The other day I was playing a match, and on the adjacent court was a junior was taking a lesson. There was far too much chit-chat between he and the instructor for my liking—you’re there to work, young man—and way too much downtime. So much so that the kid’s father actually pitched in and picked up balls between drills to help keep things moving. Given the going rates for court time and lessons in my area, I can’t say I blame him.

The quality of a teaching lesson is not only in the instruction given, but the amount of actual playing time. Repetition is still one of the greatest teachers, and it pays to make the most of it when practicing. Anything that improves the efficiency of a lesson can be hugely beneficial to both student and teacher. These two training aids help serve that purpose.

The Tennis Ball Back Pack
Designed primarily for drop-ball drills with the ten-and-under set, the Tennis Ball Back Pack ($99) allows the wearer to move all over the court rather than being tethered to a hopper or cart. This gives the instructor more freedom to hit additional shots per ball, which means more balls can be hit per lesson.

The TBBP is top-loaded with a capacity of 120 balls. Zippered pockets on the sides at waist level offer access to the balls for feeding. It’s an excellent option for pros who like to ride their bicycle or jog to work, especially if the lesson is at a court without access to a hopper of balls. The TBBP weighs 4.5 lbs, and along with the roughly 15 lbs of weight provided by a full allotment of balls, it can also serve as added resistance for runs or training.

To learn more about the TBBP, or to find out how to purchase one, click here.

The Ball Magnet
Nobody likes picking up balls. It’s a necessary evil of private lessons, clinics, ball machine practice, and even matches. Especially those balls that find the net and rebound back to the service line, disrupting play. While gathering up balls between drills after an instructor’s bucket is empty, or between points is generally unavoidable, there’s a way to streamline the process.

The Ball Magnet ($279) is an overlay that captures more than 80% of the balls hit into the net. Instead of the ball hitting the net and bouncing back into the court, the BM catches it and funnels it down to the base of the net. This keeps drills going with fewer interruptions, and increases safety by preventing stray balls from wondering underfoot. Plus, it’s a timesaver when it’s time to pick up the balls, as they’re now concentrated at the net and the back fence rather than scattered all over the court.

The BM debuted at the USPTA Conference in Orlando last year and was featured on the Cardio Tennis courts—it’s now an official provider—at the PTR Symposium at Hilton Head in February. To learn more about it, or to purchase, click here.

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