Santa Monica Tennis Club
Action Ball

Action Ball

SMTC Action Ball Information and Signup

Action Ball takes place on Sunday mornings and some Friday evenings. See the calendar for upcoming events.

What is Action ball?

As the name implies, Action Ball is fast paced and cardio intensive!

It’s basically a doubles game without serving, just playing rapid-fire points from a cart full of balls fed by a pro/coach/volunteer.

We can modify the basic rules to accommodate 5 to 14 players:

Basic rules 

4 players at a time, one pair of champions and one pair of challengers.

The first feed is always to the challengers

Challengers become champions if they can win 4 points before losing 2 points.  Champions move to the back of the challenger line.

If they lose 2 points before reaching 4 winning points, they are out, move to the back of the challenger line, and the next challengers take the court.

Players only rest when it’s time to pick up balls and refill the cart.

Action Ball tweaks

First feed is always to the challengers, who must return it cross-court, then anything goes.

A clean-winner off the first feed (to the challengers) results in an instant win!

To practice a variety of skills and shots, feeder designates one cart of first feed “forehand crosscourt from the deuce court,” then “backhand crosscourt from the ad court,” then “inside-out forehand from the ad court,” etc.

Who can play

Obviously, the fast pace of  Action Ball limits the participants to those who can run fast and can maintain cardio activity for 20 minutes at a time.

In addition to the cardio benefits, the tennis benefits include:

Improving control by anticipating the direction and type of shot for the first ball.

Improving net game and reflexes since players spend half of their time at the net.


SMTC offers Action Ball on Sunday mornings, Wednesday evenings and selected Friday evenings. See the Calender for upcoming events.

Sign ups for action ball take place by invitation from the action ball manager. Once you are on the list, each week the invitation is sent out and the first reply, first in rule sets the list of who is in.

By signing up, you agree to follow these rules to promote good sportsmanship and kindness.

More Information

Each session will be defined by the numbers of players that signed up, as follows:

4 players = doubles clinic

5 players = Swarm

6 players = traditional with variation to switch up players

7 players = traditional

8 players =  Steady Doubles.  All four players switch out unless Champions maintain 6 shots in a row.  

9 players+:  Doubles Scramble.  Players must hit ball to their partner first.  Smaller court.

Signup only when you’re sure you can commit to that spot. 

Something unexpected come up?  >7 days remove your name and notify the group. <7 days, you are responsible for payment unless you can find a sub.  If too last minute for a sub, notify the group to ask an appropriate player from Open Play to join at your expense. 

Why are there only 14 sign-ups each time?  Because when we consistently reach that number, we should request a second court from SMTC.


Champion side:  Start with the two players who arrived earliest.  

Underdog side:  One line that rotates into the ad and deuce courts as spots open.  

The coach feeds the ball to the Underdog side*  

When an Underdog misses a point, they rotate out, and new Underdog rotates in.

If the Underdog side wins two points in a row, they move to the Champion side.  Coach counts down 4-3-2-1 before feeding the next ball into play.

This is an active cardio tennis game!  Coach does not slow down count.

*Like our traditional Action Ball, we can change the feed from “deuce forward cross-court” to “ad backhand cross-court” to “ad inside out forehand cross-court” with each tennis basket change.