10 Essential Tennis Drills Every Coach Should Know

When it comes to tennis, a sport that requires intense concentration and a high level of athletic abilities, it’s important for coaches to know what to practice and work on with their players. Listed below are drills that every coach should exercise with their players to help maximize their tennis play.

Warm Up

Before playing tennis, or any sport for that matter, it’s a good idea to have some form of cardio as a warm-up. Running is an excellent way to get the blood flowing and ready yourself for the battle ahead. I suggest taking a few laps around the court before moving on to arm exercises or practicing technique.  

1.  Improve Communication and Precision

 For this drill, you should have at least three tennis players. Keep in mind, the more players the better. Spread out in a circle, the further away the better. One player starts with the ball and randomly hits it to another player. The goal is to only let the ball bounce once before being hit again. Try adding objectives like having players call out the name of the person they are passing to before the pass. To make it more competitive, have anyone that fails an objective sit down for the remainder of the drill. Last player standing is the winner.

2.  Improve Ball Control with the Bouncing Ball Drill

This is a simple drill that will require teams. If you have less than ten players, then get into groups of two. If you have more than ten players, get into two teams. Once the teams are set, have them spread out along the baseline so they are facing the net. Mark a cone that faces each team and place it near the net. The goal of this drill is to dribble the ball with your racket from the baseline to the cone near the net without losing control of it. Once players circle the cone and make it back to baseline, they will tag the next person on their team. Repeat until each team member has gone. The first team to finish is the winner.

3.  Increase Accuracy with the Crosscourt Drill

This drill will require players to pair up and have a court to themselves. One player will start as the “server” and the other one will do the hitting. The server will hit the ball accurately to the other player’s forehand or backhand side. That player will then attempt to hit the tennis ball crosscourt. Repeat this for a set amount of turns with the server counting how many shots are successful. Once the first player has finished, switch positions. Try to beat your opponent and also try to beat your own high score each time you attempt it.

4.  Incorporate “Simon Says” into your Drills

This drill is simple to perform and also very beneficial to a tennis player’s backhand and forehand strokes. To start, have your players line up horizontally along the service line, with the coach on the opposite side of the court. The coach’s job is to feed the balls to the players. Before the ball reaches the player, he must yell out whether the player should volley it or groundstroke it. By doing this, tennis players will build a better reaction time and will also improve their stroke techniques. 

5.  Improve your Serving Technique and Accuracy

With this simple serving drill, tennis players will gain the ability to pin point where they would like to serve it. This will become very handy during a match. This drill can be done with or without a partner, but if you decide to do this drill alone you better make sure you have a good amount of balls with you! To set this drill up, draw a good-sized circle in each of the four service boxes. These will be your targets when you serve so put them in different spots. The goal is to serve the ball into the circle you created. If you serve it outside of the circle, count it as a fault. If more than one person is included, make it a competition by seeing who can hit the circle the most.

6.  Mini-Games of Tennis Help Simulate Real Match Play

This drill is simple and will help you be more accurate when playing a match. You will need either two or four people to this drill. The game will be played like a regular tennis match, except the double match line won’t count. If the ball enters anything but the service box, then it’s a point to the opposing team. Try to keep the ball in the service line as long as possible to try and defeat your opponent.

7.  Hand-Eye Coordination is Key to Tennis

For starting this exercise, have one player stand on the end of the service box and another player positioned on the baseline. Begin by throwing the ball to your partner, letting the ball bounce only once. Try to stand in the same spot while doing this to improve accuracy. After that, throw the ball to your partner, but have him hit the ball back to you. Try to catch it after he hits. After a few rounds, switch positions and do it vice versa. Finish up by hitting it back and forth, letting the ball bounce only once. 

8.  Become More Agile and Quick on the Court

To begin here, have your players get into pairs. Have one player stand in the center of the court on the service line. Have the other player stand opposite of him. Your partner will start by hitting the ball to the far side of the court (they choose the side). You must then chase after the ball and hit it back to your partner. As soon as you hit it back, return to the middle. Repeat this back and forth, switching positions every now and then.

9.  The Serving Game

This next drill is a serving game. It’s very easy, but also a good way to improve your serving. Split your team up into two teams. Have them stand on opposite sides of the court ready to serve. Have one team serve one by one, counting how many are successful and how many are not. Next, have the other team serve. Whichever team has the most successful serves, wins.  

10.  Serve and Volley Style

Despite the serve and volley approach becoming less common, many of the elite players still have it in their arsenal, including the great Roger Federer. I’m not stressing to use it 100%, but it can help develop a more well-rounded player. For the drill, you need one player on each side of the court. Have one player serve the ball and then the other player can return it with a number of different shots. No matter whether it’s a crosscourt forehand or a lob, the serving player should rush the net and look to hit the ball before it bounces. After the server receives around 10 reps, then switch roles. As a side note, remember the surface you’re playing on. For games on clay, you might want to play out longer rallies, as opposed to hard or grass.

Don’t Be Afraid to Try Something New

All of these drills listed here serve a purpose of improving one’s tennis abilities. However, it is important to continuously be working on different exercises that focus on what your team needs. If your team is consistently getting double faults, then serving drills increase in importance. At the same time, don’t be hesitant to do a little research on your own.

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