How-To: Basic Tennis Drills

Tennis is a very fast-paced sport with very different shots and very different play styles. In order to get used to the different shots and play styles, it’s necessary to train yourself through the use of tennis drills. Basically, tennis drills give the player a simulation of certain situations that might occur during a point, giving you more experience while also building up muscle memory to respond to these situations as quickly as possible. Having early experience can give you the upper hand on your opponent since you’ll be ready to respond to anything that may happen on the court. So, we’ll be going over some basic tennis drills you can use to strengthen your game.

How-To: Basic Tennis Drills

Using your imagination, the possibilities for tennis drills can be endless, which is why we won’t be able to cover everything out there. There can be dozens of variations for basically the same exercise, but the best ones you’ll find are the ones that focus on the key areas you want to improve. The most important concepts to understand about tennis drills is to find drills that are both effective and efficient, building the core skills you’ll need in the most productive manner possible.

There are essentially two types of tennis drills: the first would be on court tennis drills and the other would be off court tennis drills. On court drills are mostly used to help you practice your shots and control of the ball so that you’ll be better able to dictate the direction of the game. Off court drills primarily help players with their movement around the court, for better flow, an increase in stamina, and strengthening of the muscles.

Exercising with tennis drills isn’t just a one time thing either, it’s best to perform them daily. Kind of like going to the gym, people don’t just go to the gym to be strong for a day, they go and continue going to keep themselves strong. The same can be applied to tennis; players want to keep their shots consistent, their stamina lasting, their control precise, their movement fluid, and their muscles healthy. So here are just a few examples of basic tennis drills you can use, but remember, there are a ton out there you can learn or even create on your own!

On Court Tennis Drills

Forehand Tennis Drills

Topspin drill: Start by standing close to the service line at the center of one side of the tennis court. Ask your coach or your friend to go to the other side of the tennis court and stand across from you. Ask this friend or coach to softly toss the ball so that it bounces below the height of the net to your forehand side. When the ball gets to your side, hit it with a very firm forehand stroke. The stroke should roll over the ball in order to give it topspin. Focus on brushing your tennis ball with the racquet strings, and bring the racquet from low to high.

When you master this drill, the tennis ball will dip after it clears the net and then bounce in the baseline.

This drill will force you to hit your tennis ball with an exaggerated and firm upward swing. If you hit the ball using this swing from the baseline, the ball will always sink inside the opposite baseline.

5 forehands: Have someone on the opposite side of the court feed you 5 shots to your forehand side. With each ball, slowly bring yourself to the net.

Backhand and Forehand: Have someone opposite of you feed balls to the corners of the court at a medium-fast pace. Your goal will be to reach each corner in time to hit a forehand or backhand.

Backhand Tennis Drills

Backhand slice drill: Stand at the baseline. Ask a coach or your friend to hit shots to your backhand. The shots should be of slow to medium speed. Your feet should remain perpendicular to the baseline when you approach and execute this shot. You can use stutter steps to help keep your feet in this position.

Hold your tennis racquet with both hands. However, the supporting hand should only be used to guide the other hand. It should be released on impact.

Swing the tennis racquet with a downward angle. This will help to give the ball more backspin. Keep the face of the racquet angled upwards in order to send your tennis ball over the net. Your motion and your grip will help to put slice on your tennis ball. You have to practice this drill a lot in order to master it. The ball has to go over the net, but the lower it is over the net, the better.

Serve Tennis Drills

First and second serve accuracy drill: This drill helps to improve the accuracy of the tennis player’s service. This way, the player will be able to hit any part of the service box when they serve the ball. This drill involves practice. The player should aim for a place on the service box, and they should use a ball hopper and aim their serve on that spot. The player can place cans on the service box, and try to aim at them. They should practice this for both the first serve and the second serve.

Live tennis serve drill: After practicing alone with cans, the player can practice with their coach or another player. However, instead of playing the entire game, they can practice their serve only. The person who serves most inside the service box wins.

Volley Tennis Drills

V-Volley - Tennis Drills“V” volley drill: First off, use some tape to form a “V” starting at the center of the net extending to the “T” of the singles sideline. The first player should be at the center of the service line, which is the line between the baseline and the net. The second player will be on the other side of the court. The second player will hit the ball, and the first player has to practice how to move towards the net in order to hit a volley. If the ball is within the V, perform a crosscourt volley. If outside the V, perform a down-the-line volley.

After the first player hits the ball, they have to return to the service line as they wait for the ball to be tossed back to them.

The cover volley drill: This drill is performed with more than two players. One player stands on one side of the court. All the other players stand on the opposite side of the court in a straight vertical line. The player who is alone on one side of the court will feed the ball to the first player on the queue. However, this first player will quickly move out so that the second player in the queue hits and returns the ball. This should be done until all the players in the queue have had their turn.

Volley drill with one arm behind the back: Right handed players will place their left hand behind their back, while left handed players will place their right hand behind their back. They will then practice to hit the volley with their dominant hand. This will force their dominant hand to be more prepared to hit the volley without any interference from the non-dominant hand. It will also help the player develop more strength on their dominant hand so that they can be prepared to hit harder volleys.

Smash drill: A person will hit a lob for the other player so that they can perform an overhead. This will help players move around the court in an overhead position.

Off Court Tennis Drills

Footwork Tennis Drills

The backward skip: Jog forward and then return to your original position without turning back. This drill will help to strengthen your muscles for jumping and backpedaling movements.

Sidestep shuffle slide: Simply maintain a low center of gravity as you do several sidestep shuffles.

Carioca: This is similar to the sidestep. However, instead of doing a normal sidestep, one foot will cross the other foot as you move along the sides.

Heel kicks: This drill is done by jumping in position with your hands outstretched so that the tip of your toes touch the stretched hand.

Split and sprint: This drill involves a split and a sprint. The split is when you perform a short hop on the same spot with your feet apart. The sprint involves running forward as fast as you can. Therefore, you will split first, and then immediately break into a sprint.

Warmup Tennis Drills and Exercises

Jump rope: Each player is given a jump rope, and they warm up using several jumping techniques. This can include single foot, double feet, or alternating feet.

Squat jumps: Stand with your legs body width apart. Go into a squatting position before jumping as high as you can. Ensure that your legs remain straight. After you land on your feet, go back into the squatting position and repeat the exercise fifteen times.

Back sprints: The player sprints backwards as fast as they can to one end of the field. They then jog forward to the other end. They repeat the back sprints and forward jogs until they are satisfied.

Sprint stops: The player places two cones approximately ten yards apart. They sprint as fast as they can from the first cone to the second cone. They then jog slowly back to the first cone.

Ball pick up drill: Balls are placed in a straight line on one end of the field. The player runs, stoops down to pick up the first ball, and runs back to where they started to place this ball down. They repeat this exercise until they pick up all the balls on that line.

Suicides - Tennis DrillsSuicides: This will help you sprint faster and help you make quick turns on the court. This is best done on side by side tennis courts. Beginning on a starting line, you will run to the next line and quickly turn back and run back to where you started. You will then repeat the process, running to the next furthest line until you’ve run the widths of the courts.

Stairs/Run up a hill: This will strengthen the player’s legs while also helping you to run longer and play longer (build up stamina).

Wall Sit: Sit against a wall or a pole and have your legs bent at a 90 degree angle, making it look like you are sitting on a chair. Hold your position for 5-10 minutes and this will help to strengthen your thighs.

Medicine Ball: The person needs to hold a heavy ball and perform a swing. This will strengthen the player shots and will help the player tennis form.

Agility Tennis Drills

Skip for height: Skip forward and maintain the right posture while doing so. Ensure that the knee that is up is extended and flexed. When the right knee is up, the left hand should also be up, and vice versa.

Square Carioca agility drill: Place cones on the four corners of the court. Stand on one corner of the court with your knees bent and one foot in front and the other foot at the back. Put all of your weight on your front foot. Bend your elbows and place your arms on your chest. Ensure that your head is up. This position is referred to as the two point stance. Sprint from the first cone to the second cone. Once you get to the second cone, do the carioca (side step with one foot crossing the other foot) until you reach the third corner. Do reverse pivots until you get to the fourth corner. Do another carioca until you get to the first cone. Repeat this drill as many times as possible.

Ladder shuffle drill: Start with the two point stance. The ladder should be in front of you. Jump into the first square of the ladder with both feet. Then move laterally out of the ladder. If you choose to move towards the right, you should execute a right sidestep, with your right foot first followed by your left foot. Move in to the next square of the ladder. Move in with the left foot first followed by the right foot. As soon as the right foot gets in the square, move the left foot outside the ladder immediately. When the right foot is also outside, step into the third square of the ladder. Do this move quickly, and remember to maintain your balance throughout this drill. There are also other variations you can use with a ladder.


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