One of my favorite drill games is called "True Life," and the explanation of this game is way more complex than its execution.
Essentially, two players on one side of the court try to win the point against two competitors on the other side. The first point is for position only, win and you stay where you are, lose and switch sides very fast. You can only score from one side and you switch sides with every point lost. Each mini-game is played to two points with seven total games winning. The team that wins each two point game stays on for the next mini-game and the on-deck team replaces the losers. Three or four teams can play and even with eight players, you will be exhausted after 15 min. of high intensity play. Play is continuous, so there is no time for a letdown or an outburst. All levels can be accommodated since stronger players will dominate the court and work much harder to do so.
The primary benefit of the game is to learn how to perform at high heart rates. The cause of this elevated heart rate in "True Life" is mostly physical because the game is rigorous, whereas in matches, high heart rates have a greater emotional component. The benefits are universal, however, since the results of an elevated heart rate, raised respiration, increased body temperature regulation, more muscular tension, dilated pupils, etc. as your autonomic nervous system kicks in, are the same whether the cause is physical or emotional. As your heart rate rises, your coordination drops and those players who adapt better to stress, win.
Efficiently adapting to high-intensity, uncertain conditions wins in "True Life" and in true life.
Steve Kaplan is the Owner and Managing Director of Bethpage Park Tennis Center, as well as Director Emeritus of Lacoste Academy for New York City Parks Foundation and Executive Director and Founder of Serve & Return Inc. Steve has coached more than 1,100 nationally-ranked junior players, 16 state high school champions, two NCAA Division 1 Singles Champions, and numerous highly-ranked touring professionals. Many of the students Steve has closely mentored have gone to achieve great success as prominent members of the New York financial community, and in other prestigious professions. In 2017, Steve was awarded the Hy Zausner Lifetime Achievement Award by the USTA. He may be reached by e-mail at StevenJKaplan@aol.com.