Ages 11 to 16
Key Skills and Fitness Components Developed
- Reaction time
One tennis court and one soccer ball per 8 to 12 participants
This game has similar rules to those of tennis and volleyball. Because it is ideally played on a tennis court, it can be a good game to play when the fields are too muddy for soccer and the courts are too wet for tennis. Arrange the participants into groups of 8 to 12; then separate each group into two teams. Each group should play on a tennis court, and teams should stand on opposite sides of the net. See figure for the set-up of where participants stand at the start of the game. There should be an equal number of participants playing at the front and back of their side of the court. One participant is given the ball to start as the server. The server stands behind the baseline on the right-hand side of the court. The participants on the server’s team who are at the front of the court should stand to the side until the ball has been kicked, and then move into position for the rest of the rally.
Similar to tennis and volleyball, soccer tennis involves participants playing rallies. In this game, the winner of a rally is awarded one point. The server starts a rally by kicking the ball over the net. The server must let the ball bounce on the floor before she kicks or serves it, meaning that it is played as a half-volley. However, after the kick, the serve must then travel straight over the net to bounce in the opponents’ half of the court. A server has only one chance to get the serve right. If she kicks the ball into the net or it does not bounce in the opponents’ half of the court, the opposing team wins the rally, as well as service. Unlike the serving rule in tennis (which stipulates that the ball must land in the service box), the ball can bounce anywhere in the opponents’ half of the court. The team receiving the serve does not have to let the ball bounce; players can play it straight back over the net if they wish.
Members of the opposing team can take as many or as few touches as they like to get the ball back to their opponents’ side, but they must not let the ball bounce twice in their half. Participants are allowed to use any part of their bodies except their arms and hands to play the ball. Their aim is to set up or use a volley or header to get the ball back over the net again and in the opponents’ court. Teams continue to play the ball over the net until one of them wins the rally. A team wins a rally if the opponents let the ball bounce twice on their side, play the ball into the net or kick the ball over the net but outside the court.
The server continues to serve if her team wins a rally. If her team loses a rally, the opposing team takes service. Participants rotate positions in a clockwise direction (in a similar way to volleyball) when their team wins service. The participant who was at the front right of the court (looking at the net) should have moved to the back right to become the new server. This ensures that all participants have a chance to play at the front and back of the court and that they all take turns to serve. Have them play for a set time (e.g., 5 to 10 minutes) or until one team has scored a set number of points (e.g., 15 to 21) to decide the winner.
Warn participants to be careful of collisions with opponents when playing balls close to the net. Don’t allow them to reach over the net to head or kick the ball; they must stay on their own sides. A team loses a rally if one of the participants reaches over the net to play the ball.
Participants should always keep an eye on the ball to avoid being hit during the game.
To avoid colliding with their own team-mates, participants should call out their names loudly and as early as possible if they are going to play the ball. This allows other participants to move out of their way.
The ball must be inflated and bouncy enough for the game to be viable. If playing outdoors on grass, ensure that the area is not too muddy, or the ball will not bounce high enough.
The court can also be set up using cones to mark out the boundary of the court and played over a soccer tennis net (or something similar).
Have participants rotate positions so they all spend an equal amount of time at the front and back of the court. Playing at the front usually requires more heading of the ball, whereas more volleying is needed at the back.
Instruct participants to work as a team to get the ball back over the net.
Watch for participants trying to dominate the play; encourage them all to work as a team.
Try to group your participants by ability. If you have lower ability groups, then have them play one of the easier variations in the next section.
Easier: If participants are struggling to get the ball over the net when serving, allow them to use an underarm throw from a position closer to the net.
Easier: Allow participants two or three bounces of the ball when the ball is played over to their side of the net.
Harder: Restrict the number of touches participants have to get the ball back over. For example, team-mates have to get the ball back over the net in fewer than five touches, but the same participant isn’t allowed to touch the ball more than twice consecutively.
Smaller groups: This game can be played with fewer numbers on each team. Participants must have a high ability, and you may still need to restrict the court size (e.g., play in pairs on half a court).