Anyone who has taught tennis to groups of kids has probably conducted tennis baseball games where kids form into teams and try to hit a ball with an underhand feed into the far court where a raft of other kids are try to catch three balls and get that team out.

This is different. It’s the major leagues.

Advanced players will enjoy this game as a means to warm up and focus on both serves and returns without the usual pressure of winning or losing a point on two serves or one return.

The game has innings where one player is the pitcher and the other is the batter. The pitcher serves, and a served fault becomes a ball for the receiver and a failed serve return is a strike against the receiver. Four balls or three strikes constitutes a run where the batter advances to first base.

If a point takes place that has both a good serve and a successful return, then it becomes a matter of how many bases the batter gets. The number of bases that a batter takes is determined by how many times he or she hit the ball during a successful point. So, if I’m the batter, return a serve and win the point, I only hit one time and my (imaginary) runner takes a base. But if I hit a serve return and hit the ball 2, 3, 4 or more times, then I take 2, three, or 4 or more bases (a home run).

If the receiver loses the point by strikeout, or by losing the point after any number of hits, it’s an out.

After three outs, you switch pitcher/servers.

One add-on to this is that if someone hits a passing shot or clean placement that is untouched by their opponents racket, it adds to the value of the point, as follows: If I’m the batter and I win a point on a putaway, I get an extra base. If I’m the pitcher, I get two outs.

With my buddies, we use a four run rule – where if the pitcher gets 4 0r more runs in an inning, we swap pitcher/servers. That keeps the length of the game op something like a tennis game.

We haven’t yet decideed what to do with let serves, though you could always go college rules and make them mandatory playable points.

Your call.

We generally play only one inning of this game and then move on to regular tennis.

That’s it, though it’s not hard to imagine doing this more or less as a team with a hotdog server and a bunch of batters trying to step in and make hits and runs, with other servers warming up in a sort of tennis bullpen on court 2.

Let me know if you try this out and if you get any more ideas for this fun aspect to a tennis drill/play session with your buddies: paul@stokstad.com.

 

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