Getting the Edge: The 3 Player Workout

Joey noticed yesterday how potent my three player/90 minute classes can be. Usually avoided in recreational tennis, a three player workout is encouraged in Davis Cup/Fed Cup team play
for an important reason–every player on the team might play singles or doubles.

My 3 player/90 minute format, 60 minutes of drills and 30 minutes of point play in which two servers swap out each point, is a potent teaching tool. It epitomizes the nature of college coaching and the “Academy Style” used in Florida. Players need preparation for both games and, as Joey noticed, styles at the same skill level are very diverse in recreational tennis.

Compared to a two or four player class, my 90 minute three player format (never play doubles vs singles!) is actually my favorite as it gives you more time to consider the style of the different opponents between points. Yes, they are singles thoughts in point play but, it gives me a chance to interject elite player thinking while you wait for your next point.

In the hour before point play, each needs to work on particular physical weakness and practice strengths for both games. Rotating with 2 versus 1 IN PRACTICE for the first 60 minutes is perfect for this. Most of my students have performed these drills where I feed from the middle to a net player in the middle who has to practice a volley to the sidelines, while the doubles team gets to hit to the imaginary middle of a doubles team at the net.

During singles point play, better problem solving occurs versus two different singles styles which gives my students the edge and makes you a better thinker on court in competition. Be aware that a very subtle 2 or 3% edge will dominates 80% of your matches! Play the long run percentages and don’t emphasize, be consumed by, or waste energy on, short term fluctuations in performance.

Given two well matched players, the calm, problem solver will predominate. Simona Halep on the champions podium said that she finally learned this lesson from Darren Cahill. On court, she appears more kind to herself, accepting of her flaws, and will continue to win slams because of her new demeanor of “calculating calm”.