It can be harder still to find drills that work on the finer points of the game, which is the case for competitive players who quickly grow bored with the standard forehand-backhand drills. That’s why we’ve compiled a handful of recommended tennis workout drills for highly competitive players, each of which can be done with only one partner. Let’s get right to it:
Tennis Workout Drill #1: Return and Identify
This series of tennis workout drills serve to enhance the player’s serve return game. One player acts as the server and the other is the returner. The server is to hit any one of five or six different types of serves to the returner. The returner must first identify the serve, call it out, then return the serve. The serves that can be used for this drill are: pure slice, topspin-slice, topspin, twist and flat serves, even the reverse slice if you are able to hit that one as well.
The returner cannot move on to receiving a different type of serve until he or she correctly identifies the serve and returns it successfully. Once each serve has been identified and returned well, the server should be sure to mix up the serves to confuse the returner. After about five or ten minutes of serving, the returner should take over the job of server and begin to offer a wide variety of serves.
This drill can be an excellent one to build service recognition and anticipation. The return of serve is a constant weak point for most players. Any drills that focus on this stroke are welcomed.
Tennis Workout Drill #2: Serving Cat
Serving Cat is actually a game that can be disguised as a tennis workout drill. The idea of the game is the same as in H-O-R-S-E in basketball.
The first player describes what his serve will do in precise terms, where the ball will land, etc., and if he or she strikes a serve that does what he or she says, the other player must duplicate the same serve. As errors are made, letters are accumulated to spell C-A-T.
If the server does not execute what he or she says, he or she does not get a letter. The control of the game simply passes to the other person.
You can spice up this game by not only calling out where the serve will land, but how many bounces it will take until it hits the fence, how many bounces it will take before reaching the baseline, etc. You can even predict where on the fence the ball will hit after it bounces. For those with more powerful serves, they can predict that their serve will hit the fence after just one bounce within the service box.
Serves always need to be perfected, and this can be a fun way to work on exact placement of the serve with a variety of spins added. If you want to extend the game, add the letters F-U-R and B-A-L-L. Each of you will be eager to avoid being called a “Cat Fur Ball”!
Tennis Workout Drill #3: Drop Volley Drill
Drop volleys are yet another skill that is not often worked on during a match—not enough of them are attempted in the course of a match to really help a player get better at this difficult stroke. The soft touch and delicate spins required to hit a great drop volley will be mastered through this fun tennis workout drill.
An excellent drop volley should have a low trajectory and thus bounce several times before reaching the service line.
Three bounces are often considered the minimum for an effective drop volley, but it is possible to hit one that bounces several more times before reaching the service line. An outstanding drop volley will actually remain within the service box. The rare player who can add tons of spin to his drop volley can even make it bounce back to his side of the net!
The feeder stands at the service line and hits six balls so that the returner will meet the ball below the top of the net.
The goal of the returner is to make the ball bounce as many times as possible before rolling out of the opposite service box. For each bounce that the ball takes before crossing that line, one point is awarded.
A shot is disqualified if it reaches a height of greater than six feet because such a volley would be easy to return in a match situation. After the returner hits six drop volleys and calculates the score of total accumulated bounces, the feeder takes his turn.
To spice up this series tennis workout drills, hit to both the forehand and backhand an equal number of times. Another way to heighten the excitement is to stand further and further back behind the service line as you feed, ensuring greater pace and a greater level of difficulty for the returner. This will really give the drop volley hitter a workout! Do the tennis workout drill multiple times to ensure a solid dose of practice of this difficult shot.
Tennis Workout Drill #4: Side Pocket Shot Drill
This tennis workout drill works on a player’s ability to hit angle shots. A side pocket shot is a groundstroke that is hit so sharply crosscourt that it bounces in the service box and then out of the court of play before ever crossing the imaginary line extending from the service line—an extreme angle.
This is by far the best crosscourt passing shot and it can also open up the court quite a bit in the midst of a baseline rally. This shot is also one that is rarely practiced but can be extremely effective. Use a little drill time with your buddy to perfect this devastating stroke.
The feeder should hit the ball to the left and right so that the ball will be returned about halfway between the baseline and the service line, a little short, in other words. This will be the type of shot that a player can attempt a side pocket shot on, so it makes sense to hit it at that depth during the drill.
The feeder should strike about five balls and see how many the runner can effectively hit into the side pocket. The runner can then serve as the feeder and hit five balls to his friend. This game can be played in a number of ways as you keep score—highest overall percentage of balls hit into the side pocket (for you math whizzes), individual “matches” of five balls hit at a time, etc. Keeping score will increase the intensity and seriousness of the drill. Before you know it, you and your friend will be masters of this difficult shot, although it will take longer to master the backhand shot than the forehand one. Lots of topspin will enable you to hit the side pocket more frequently.
Tennis Workout Drill #5: Drop Shot Contest
This particular tennis workout drill serves to improve a player’s drop shot. The feeder stands at the baseline and hits shots of normal depth that the returner attempts to hit as a drop shot. A successful drop shot will be judged as one that bounces at least three times before crossing the service line. Shots that are hit higher than six feet, and thus easily returnable, are automatically disqualified in the contest.
The feeder and returner can alternate every five balls or so. Score can be kept in a variety of ways, as described above.
In order for a set of tennis workout drills to be effective, they must be fun and must work on parts of your game that usually do not get a lot of attention. The tennis workout drills described above meet both of these criteria. Each shot or stroke that is tested is vital to a complete game. The return of serve always needs polish, as does the serve placement. The drop volley could be the toughest shot in tennis, if the side pocket shot is not. The drop shot can be a great weapon in the course of a match, but when do you get to practice it? Answer: when you adopt the quick and easy workout plan of tennis workout drills outlined in this posting.
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