Your forehand has been inconsistent and you are not getting the topspin on the ball that you thought you would with your new motion. You also are having some issues on your backhand side—your two-hander is not very strong and you seem to hit every ball flat.
What’s more, you know that you are a little sluggish on the court. You are not getting to many balls that are not hit near you and when you do get to them near the net, you are hitting the low ones all over the place.
You’ve got multiple issues and you want to look more like your favorite pro that you enjoy watching. He or she makes it look so effortless!
That is true, but you can bet that he or she spent hundreds, probably thousands of hours doing tennis court drills, expending tons of effort to get to the point where tennis looks effortless.
Tennis Court Drills Must Be Practiced With a High Level of Intensity
You’re going to have to expend some effort as well if you want to get better. Playing regularly has not been enough. Fortunately, you have a friend or coach that wants to help you get better, too. Tennis court drills are what you need when you are not playing a friendly or official match. Tennis court drills have multiple benefits to your game because they allow you to focus on specific weaknesses and force you to repeat certain actions and movements in rapid succession. Once you have the muscle memory and mental confidence to hit a certain shot after spending hours drilling on it, you will be able to make that shot almost effortlessly during a real match.
Here is a sampling of tennis court drills that you can do with a friend or coach. They provide a nice mixture of ball drills and fitness drills that will make you a better player.
Tennis Court Drill #1: Forehand Drill
This tennis court drill will help you develop a more consistent forehand and a shot that will give your opponents more trouble. You need more topspin, in other words. This drill will help.
Stand near the service line in the middle of one side of the court and have your friend or coach stand across from you on the other side of the court. Have your friend toss or softly hit balls that will bounce below net height to your forehand side. Hit the ball with a firm forehand stroke that rolls over the ball to give it topspin. Concentrate on brushing the ball with the strings and taking your racquet from low to high.
As you master this movement, the ball will dip once it clears the net and bounce inside the baseline.
If you are able to make a ball dip enough to land in from near the service line, giving it enough topspin from the baseline will be a snap. This drill forces you to hit the ball with an exaggerated upward swing. Once you use that same swing from the baseline, your ball will sink just inside the opposite baseline again and again.
This will take some time to master as you experiment with the motion, but once you get it, your game will never be the same.
Tennis Court Drill #2: Backhand Slice
The backhand slice is one tennis court drill that you can practice to add variety to your game. Now for that backhand that betrays you at times and is just a weak, flat shot at others. To add an element of difficulty to your backhand stroke, a slice is a great option that is not too hard to master.
When your opponent sees repeated slices coming at him, he often will get impatient and mis-hit one. Meanwhile, you will be content to hit 100 slices in a row, and they will all land in. A slice backhand is a great weapon for your arsenal.
To hit that slice most effectively, you will need to use a one-handed backhand.
Yes, if you are normally a two-hander, then going to one hand will tip off your opponent that a slice is coming, but that doesn’t matter. The key to the slice is your numbing consistency, which will wear out your opponent in time.
Stand at the baseline and have your friend hit slow- to medium-speed shots to your backhand side.
Use stutter steps to get your feet into position, perpendicular to the baseline during both your approach and the execution of the shot.
Hold your racquet with both hands but use the supporting hand simply for guidance, releasing it on impact.
Swing your racquet with a downward angle to put backspin on the ball, keeping the face angled upward to send the ball over the net.
You can accomplish this slice in two ways: both your grip and your motion will put slice on the ball.
Use both elements to develop a killer slice shot. Hit backhand after backhand after backhand to master this shot.
The lower it goes over the net, the better. If it goes over low, it will stay low and give your opponent all kinds of problems. Then, all of that hard work that you put in will pay off as you win rally after rally until your adversary figures out that it is not a good idea to “pick on” your backhand.
Tennis Court Drill #3: Lunge Strengthening Drill
This tennis court drill works on developing the muscles used in tennis.
Arguments rage over the most difficult shot in tennis, but many players will vote for the low volley near the net as being the toughest. This lunge drill will help you to get low enough to successfully hit low volleys and other shots that stay low.
Lunges are effective exercises to develop your quadriceps and hamstrings and will build in muscle memory for getting low to the ball. Stand at one doubles sideline with your racquet in hand and take a large step forward, lowering your back knee until it nearly touches the court. Be sure to not extend your forward knee past your toes. This will help to reduce the strain on your knee and ankle joints. Perform the motion that you would typically make to hit the ball as you lower yourself, then lunge forward with your other leg and put your racket in the other hand.
Do these lunges across the width of the court, alternating hands with each step, at least two times. Your legs will be strengthened in a way that will be needed to both reach and execute low shots at the net. As your legs get stronger and you get comfortable with your racquet motion while lunging, soon you will make one of the toughest shots in tennis look a whole lot easier.
Tennis Court Drill #4: Speed Work
Now, for your speed work. This tennis court drill will help you to get quicker and faster as you move around the court.
Fortunately, the lines on a tennis court are ideal for speed drills.
Stand near the net at the doubles line on one side of the court and then sprint to the center service line, reaching down to touch the line with your hand before turning and sprinting back to the sideline. Then touch the sideline and turn and sprint to the opposite singles sideline, reaching down and touching the line before sprinting back to the doubles line.
Finally, after touching the doubles line, turn and sprint to the opposite doubles sideline, reach and touch it, then sprint back and cross the starting sideline. Repeat this “suicide” two or three times, taking a minute between runs.
This group of tennis court drills provides a nice variety of stroke improvement, strength development and aerobic fitness.
You should be able to accomplish all of these drills in 45-60 minutes, yet the payoff will be far greater than you imagine.
By going through these tennis court drills once a week, you will greatly improve your backhand and forehand, as well as your low ball “gets” and your overall court coverage. Once you master the forehand topspin and the backhand slice, you can move on to other stroke improvement drills, perhaps adding a drop shot drill or a kick serve drill. Continue to do your lunges and suicides after working on your strokes for 30 minutes or so. This set of tennis court drills will cover all of the basics and can be expanded as you have more time and energy.
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