Live Ball provides a high-energy, tennis-based fitness option

Fun, fitness, footwork and forehands – Live Ball has it all.

Live Ball is not your typical tennis drill – far from it – it’s an all-out tennis workout in which players definitely work up a sweat.

The format, which originated in California, is the brainchild of Steve Bellamy, a former teaching pro who established the Tennis Channel in 2003. Bellamy was concerned that people were forgoing tennis in favor of other fitness trends and set out to create a high-energy, tennis-based fitness option.

Played at various tennis centers across the country, Live Ball was recently introduced to players from Kettering Tennis Center and Quail Run Racquet Club. Sweaty but smiling, the players enjoyed the experience.

“I love it,” said Jayme Soulati, of Centerville. “There’s more cardio than in a match or a drill. And I’m very competitive, so I love anything with points.”

Quail Run manager Darrin Heinz and his daughter Rachel, a part-time teaching pro, recently traveled to California to experience the Live Ball craze firsthand. It didn’t take long before they were hooked.

“I played in six classes over three days – two hours each, with all levels of players – and it was so much fun,” Rachel said. “I never got bored.”

Darrin agreed.

“I liked that it was a real-match situation, just like doubles, but you hit a lot more balls and get a really good workout,” he said.

Live Ball basics

Traditional drills or tennis clinics typically have a pro on one side of the court and the students on the other, hitting a variety of shots. In Live Ball, there are four players on the court – two champions and two challengers. A pro feeds in the ball and the players do the rest with the challengers trying to unseat the champions.

“When you take out the serves and the service return, it speeds up the pace quite a bit,” Darrin said.

Six players is an ideal number to have on each court. As soon as the challengers either tally enough points to unseat the champions or get bumped out, two new challengers immediately jump in.

Live Ball can be played by junior or adult players of all levels. Regularly scheduled one-hour clinics will soon be available for members of both KTC and Quail.

Live Ball benefits

“It’s a really good workout,” said Jon Farley, of Beavercreek, who participated in the first KTC clinic. “I think it will enhance my ability to play doubles. I’ll definitely do this again.”

Soulati already plays tennis five times a week, but would happily add Live Ball to the mix.

“The pace is fabulous,” she said.

The faster pace adds a cardio component that can be lacking in typical doubles play. And the format can enhance a player’s overall game.

“You’re going to hit a lot more balls,” Rachel said. “And have a lot of fun.”

For more information about Live Ball, email

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