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Hoop Tennis

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Neil Williams, Ryan Smart, and Ronald Morin from Willimantic, Connecticut submitted this lead-up game for grades 7 and up.

Background: Hoop Tennis is an excellent competitive lead-up game that is very useful when gym space is limited. It helps students to develop a sense of the flow of court games like tennis and badminton, as well as providing constant participation by the entire class at all times. We have found that up to 16 games can be played simultaneously on a basketball court.

Playing Area:
- One Basketball Court

- Hula hoops of the same size
- Tennis balls

How To Play: The game is essentially like table tennis with players volleying back and forth to win points. Points may be earned by either player at any time, regardless of who serves. The only time a point is not scored is on a service fault.

Each set of two competitors places its hoops about 7 feet apart and one player stands behind each hoop to defend it. Each group will set up its “court” about 10 feet away from the next group to minimize interference.

No Racquets: The ball is hit with the palm of the hand, and all hits must be made with an underhand stroke (the hand must be below the elbow when the ball is contacted).

How to Start: One player serves from behind his own hoop by dropping the ball and hitting it after one bounce (as in handball) into the opponent’s hoop. The ball must land cleanly in the hoop without touching it. If the serve hits the hoop or lands outside it, it is a service fault, but no point is awarded. Apart from this, either player may serve after any rally.

Once a fair serve is made, the ball is returned by the opponent after its first bounce. Play continues with the players rallying back and forth until fair return is not made. During the rally, the ball may bounce either in or on the opponent’s hoop, and all returns are made after the ball has bounced one time.

Announcing Score: The score is announced before every serve and games may be played for appropriate point totals or time limits. The time-limited game seems to work best. When time is up, have the students in one line move up to challenge a new player.

In Closing: We have found this activity works well with upper middle school and high school students. It is a very competitive game and extremely useful when space is limited or on a rainy day.

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