Introduction to Orange Ballers Program
The ORANGE BALL curriculum allows young players (orange ballers) to play on an 60′ court with the same rules as those used on a regulation court. Playing the “real” game will promote the development of Fundamentals required in game situations. For 7+ years old, the ratio of length to width is basically the same as a full sized court is to an adult. As the court and equipment dimensions are scaled down, young players are able to develop an all-court game style. The ORANGE BALL Tennis uses low-compression balls that facilitate this tactical development. The balls are easier to control and don’t bounce as lively as a regular ball. On these courts players use 23-25 inch rackets (depending on player size) which gives better racket control. The modified equipment also assists with development of good bio-mechanics.
Demands of the Game – Orange Tennis
Court and ball demands
Unlike at the Red level, the bigger Orange Court means that there will often not be the opportunity to arrive and hit from a static or perfectly balanced position. Players at this level will need to contact with the ball while on the move and also in a greater variety of positions than at Red level. Orange ballers will learn to play at a higher level while having fun and engaging with others.
The Orange ball flies faster and players can swing faster so players will now:
- Have less time to position themselves and may have to hit more balls from a dynamic position
- Must learn to hit off of either foot
- Need to move better laterally, resulting in more shots hit from a semi open stance
- Move forward more, to cover balls hit shorter in the space closer to the net
- Need to be able to coordinate well into different hitting positions.The increased court length and ball speeds mean:
- More dynamic use of body but mostly without too many changes in body height (players will not have to hit with their feet off the ground)
- Rotations may require separation of the upper and lower body (hips and shoulder at different angles), as there is not always time to step into the court.Players on the Orange court will contact the balls at higher positions (max around shoulder height), as well as lower positions (as flatter trajectories can be created on the longer orange court), and because of the dynamic nature of the game this may take place while the player is on the run.
- Technical skill
For this level, skill needs to be based on:
Making the ball move faster and creating more spin in order to control this faster ball Using grips that better facilitate spin and allow for greater racket head speed
Using the kinetic chain (coordinating body segments)
Better use of shoulder rotation from a semi open stance
Reception of the faster ball, as the use of spin and speed allows players to hit more angles and move their opponent wider off the court
Making contact with the serve at a higher position and developing a more rhythmic and better coordinated throwing action
2. Tactical Awareness
Tactically players now should be developing:
- Better understanding of court geometry
- Understanding of when to attack and defend at appropriate times
- Use of space by changing the depth and angle of their shots to open the court
- Ability to link shots to form patterns of play, for example understanding that if they can movethe player wide then, with the next shot, they should aim to hit the open space.All of this means that the use of time has become more important than on the Red Court and that by taking the ball early and by hitting sequences of shots, players can best take the time away from their opponent.