Player Development Pathway
The USTA has adopted a junior tennis format for younger players to have fun and to start rallying sooner than traditional tennis! By utilizing equipment the proper size it is much easier for young players to be successful
Foam Ball – This is for children 6 and under. The foam ball moves through the air slower, travels less far, and bounces lower creating an easier contact point for young players. The 36 foot court is used (doubles side line to doubles side line) with a 2 foot net.
Red Ball – This is for children 8 and under. The red ball moves through the air a little faster and bounces a little higher than the foam ball continuing to create an easier contact point for young players. The 36 foot court is used (doubles side line to doubles side line) with a 2 foot net.
Orange Ball – This is for children 10 and under. The orange ball moves through the air a little faster, further, and bounces higher than the red ball creating an easier contact point for young players. The 60 foot court is used with a 3 foot net.
Green Ball – This is for children 12 and under. The green ball is a half ounce lighter than the traditional yellow tennis ball and bounces at 75% the height of the traditional yellow tennis ball. The full size 78 foot court is used with a 3 foot net.
For adult players the USTA has adopted the NTRP (National Tennis Rating Program) to help players find opponents of similar ability levels.
1.0 – A new player that has never picked up a racket
1.5 – This player has had limited experience with stroke development and is still working primarily on getting the ball into play. This player is not yet ready to compete.
2.0 – This player needs on-court experience, with an emphasis on play. This player struggles to find an appropiate contact point, needs stroke development/lessons and is not yet familiar with basic positions for singles and doubles.
2.5 – This player is learning to judge where the ball is going when receiving the ball, although movement and recovery are not in sync. Can sustain a rally of slow pace with other players of similar ability and is beginning to develop strokes. This player is becoming more familiar with the basic positions for singles and doubles. This player is ready to play social matches, leagues, and low-level tournaments.
3.0 – This play is fairly consistent when hitting medium-paced shots, but is not comfortable with all strokes and lacks execution when trying for directional control, depth, pace or altering distance shots. Most common doubles formation is one up, one back. Potential limitations: consistency when applying or handling pace; difficulty handing shots “outside of their strike zone”; can be uncomfortable at the net.
3.5 -This player has achieved improved stroke dependability with directional control on moderate shots, but still lacks depth, variety and the ability to alter distance of shots. The effective use of lobs, overheads, approach shots, and volleys is limited due to a lack of confidence. This player is more comfortable at the net, has improved court awareness, and is developing teamwork in doubles. Potential limitations or strengths: “This is the level at which it begins to be about what skills a player can display on court, not what they can’t.” Players at this level may start to utilize mental skills related to concentration, tactics and strategy.
4.0 – This player has dependable strokes, including directional control, depth and the ability to alter distance of shots on both forehand and backhand sides during moderately paced play, plus the ability to use lobs, overheads, approach shots, and volleys with more success. This player occasionally forces errors when serving. Rallies may be lost due to impatience. Teamwork in doubles is evident. Potential strengths: less likely to beat themselves; more dependable second serve; recognizes opportunities to finish points.
4.5 – This player has begun to vary the use of pace and spins, has good movement, can control distance and depth of shots, and is beginning to develop game plans according to strengths and weaknesses. This player can hit the first serve with power and accuracy and can place the second serve. This player tends to overhit on difficult shots. Aggressive net play is common in doubles. Potential strengths: points are won and lost off the serve more often; better able to cover weaknesses; beginning to develop a weapon around which their game can be built.
5.0 – This player has good shot anticipation and frequently has an outstanding shot or attribute around which their game can be structured. This player has the confidence to regularly hit winners or force errors off of short balls and can put away volleys, can successfully execute lobs, drop shots, half volleys, overheads, and has good depth and spin on most second serves. Potential strengths: better decision making; covers and disguises weaknesses well; mentally tougher, but can still break down in stress situations.
5.5 – This player has developed pace and/or consistency as a major weapon. This player can vary strategies and styles of play in competitive situations and hit dependable shots in stress situations. Potential strengths: can hit offensively at any time; can vary strategies and styles of play in competitive situations; first and second serves can be depended upon in stress situations.
6.0 – 7.0 – The 6.0 player typically has had intensive training for national tournaments or top level collegiate competition, and has obtained a national ranking. The 6.5 and 7.0 are world-class players.