Like anything in life, practice makes perfect. That is especially true for tennis. Practice allows you to develop a comfort level on the court and is an easy way to start building confidence. Tennis techniques need quick thinking and strategizing, from your serve, to how to shift your body weight, to know when to hit cross-court or down the line, or when to go for the winner.
But as a beginner, it’s hard to instinctively know what to do for effective practice. That’s why we’re here to help with some drills that will specifically be helpful for beginners. Let’s take a look at our six best drills to help beginners level up their game quickly!
The dribble is an important tennis drill. It’s an upside-down version of the frying pan (see tip 2). For the drill, hold the racquet in your dominant hand with the tennis ball in your other hand.
Next, drop the ball in front then hit it towards the ground. When you do this, the ball will move towards the ground then bounce up. Continue hitting the ball until you get a consistent dribble. This drill is a great way to develop a feel for your racquet and bouncing ball.
As you progress with this drill you can change the speed and difficulty level.
2. The Frying Pan
(Here is a great example of The Frying Pan drill, as well as a great variation with cones to increase difficulty)
The frying pan is yet another important drill for beginners. It’s helpful for eye-hand coordination and continuing to develop a feel for the racquet.
For this drill, you need to hold your racquet in your dominant hand – the same way you would hold a frying pan. Then place the ball right on the racquet’s face and then slowly start moving the racquet upwards and downwards allowing the effortless bouncing of the ball. Kind of like a bounce-back paddle ball, without the string.
Once the tennis ball starts bouncing, see the number of bounces you can make. Or you can go for time, say three to five minutes. You can also compete against your friends with this drill!
As you progress with this drill, try turning the racquet at 180 degrees in between the bounces.
3. Groundstroke Drill
For this drill, you’ll need a coach, partner or friend along with a basket of balls. Your partner will toss the ball in front of you for a forehand. Once the ball bounces, catch it and throw it back. Then, the person throwing the ball immediately tosses it to your backhand, which you once again catch and throwback. This drill allows you to develop a feel for moving about the court, transiting from your forehand to your backhand.
As the drill goes on, your partner should up the speed and distance.
Once you have the motion of your tennis strokes and side steps down, you can add your racquet and start hitting the balls instead of catching and throwing them. Try to time up your steps as you did when you were catching the ball. Focus on those perfect reps!
Note: If you don’t have a partner you can use a ball machine for this drill as well.
4. Volley Drills
The ability to keep the ball in play is vital to your development. To practice your volleying, stand at the net while a partner feeds you different kinds of volleys from the baseline.
Another variation involves both players standing at the net, volleying to one another and keeping the ball in the air for as long as possible. Like the dribbling drill, you can go for a number of volleys or time.
As you progress in this drill you can increase the difficulty by having your partner feed balls directly to the center of your body. This makes you decide in the moment whether to perform a forehand volley or backhand volley. After all, many of the best tennis players rely on their instinct and ability to make decisions in a split second.
5. Doubles Alley Drill
One of our favorite drills, aiming for the doubles alley will help increase your aim and touch on the court - two vital skills for your game!
For this drill, you’ll need a partner. Once your partner begins the drill, you just need to strike the ball across the net and keep it within the double’s alley. Although this may seem like a simple concept it’s still a very difficult drill - so remember to have some patience with yourself!
6. Serve and Volley
Building off the Doubles Alley Drill, this drill will take your aim, touch, and decisiveness. Keep a basket of balls behind the baseline, and each time you serve to your partner, immediately rush the net afterward, trying to win the point against the returner. Do this drill from each service side, then switch so you can practice returning against the serve and volley. This is a great way to continue to develop your confidence as well as getting your game used to aggressive, fast-paced movements.