Tennis Drills - The 5 Best Exercises
For Each Level of Player.
Tennis drills are essential for every tennis player of any level – not only to improve your game but also to maintain tennis’s fundamental principles.
Like playing scales when learning a new instrument, doing suitable tennis drills can finely tune your body to become more efficient and effective; your muscles remember how they are supposed to react to be even more precise.
There are many tennis drills to choose from, and they vary according to level.
With the proper knowledge, beginner, intermediate, or advanced players can use the correct type of drills to get the results they are looking for.
Below you’ll find the 5 best tennis drills for whatever type of player you are.
You might want to mix and match to keep your drills alive and entertaining.
What Do Tennis Drills Accomplish?
For beginners, tennis drills are a necessary part of learning. Without tennis drills, it is hard to learn tennis’s fundamental plays.
No matter what age or experience in sports, a beginner player will undoubtedly take some time to adjust to the new feel of the racket.
Tennis drills are necessary to generate strength when swinging, and this can’t be done without a steady, routine, and repeated movement.
Intermediate players have the confidence and know-how to make moves well.
However, they might still lack the precision and hand-eye coordination that more experienced players have when it comes to serving the perfect strike.
Tennis drills can also serve as an excellent warm-up for a game. As the player improves, the number of tennis drills they can successfully do should also increase.
This means the player will know how to react better and play even more complex shots.
Drills for advanced players are beneficial as well and should not be overlooked. Certain drills can be used to improve in specific areas, including footwork, speed, and endurance.
Tennis drills can be hard work, but they can also be tons of fun!
Many can be done while the player is on their own, but going through tennis drill sets with a friend, coach, or even a group of people can be much more enjoyable.
Players of all ages can have fun and get good exercise through the right drills, even those who have never been on a tennis court!
5 Best Tennis Drills for Beginners That are easy and fun (for adults and kids)
Learning tennis can be daunting at first, especially for a younger player. Getting used to holding the racket, hitting the ball, and aiming correctly can be hard.
To make it easier on a new player, there are many tennis drills that not only teach the basics, but are fun to do.
This drill is the first for nearly every player, and for a good reason. Much like how a basketball player dribbles the ball with their hand, a tennis player does the same with their racket.
This teaches control, and gets the player used to the feel of the racket and the ball’s elasticity.
The player should start by bouncing the ball against the ground with their racket, trying to keep it at waist height.
Most beginner strokes will be hit from around waist height as well. Though it may sound easy at first, a lot of control must go into keeping the ball bouncing smoothly.
- The Frying Pan
The frying pan is a fun way to learn more control over wrist movements. The player flips their racket over and bounces the ball on it.
These bounces should be smaller, and the player should try to hit the center of their racket every time.
The difficulty of both the dribble and frying pan can be increased by walking while doing the drills.
- Tennis Forehand and Backhand Drill Strokes
Forehand and backhand groundstrokes and volleys makeup four of the six basic strokes in tennis, and should be learned first.
These can be practiced alone but are better done with a partner or coach. The ball must bounce once on the ground and be hit once they reach about the waist-height of the player.
First, take the proper stance. Legs should be wider than the shoulders, slightly bent, with both hands on the tennis racket, standing at a slight angle towards the net.
To hit a forehand groundstroke, swing the racket up and to your other side, and shift your weight to your non-dominant leg.
To hit a backhand groundstroke, do the same but with your body facing the opposite way, so that the back of the dominant hand is up while making the stroke. This can be done with a one-handed or two-handed grip, though a two-handed grip may prove easier to a beginner.
To get a visual idea on how these strokes work, try watching this video:
Once the player has this down, the player can ask their coach or partner to call out either forehand or backhand as they toss the ball to correctly choose their swing without having to think.
- Ball Tosses
The player is tossed balls and must run from the service line (or any other spot on the court), hit the ball over the net, and run back to add more movement. This will help improve footwork and get any player warmed up to the feeling of hitting a moving ball.
- Split Step and Toss and Block Volleys
Volleys are another essential type of stroke in tennis, where the ball is caught in the air before it can bounce off the ground. If it bounces off the ground first, it is a groundstroke.
These can be harder to do, so starting closer to the net and with a wider, slower toss to ease into it is a good idea.
Though it can be scary having to hit the ball midair, the player must keep in mind to keep their swing short and efficient rather than swing hard and with full movement.
When these toss and block volleys are completed, more movement can be added. Like with other tennis drills, side-step volleys let the player improve their footwork, timing, and coordination.
This is better done with a coach, who can toss the ball in different directions. The player should start side-stepping with bent knees to reach the ball, alternating strokes to block hits.
Tennis Drills for Intermediate Players
When a player is ready to move beyond the basics, these drills can become both a warm-up and further practice to reach an advanced level.
Knowing how to perform these drills well means the player can become more consistent and accurate with their movement.
Unlike the beginner drills, these drills can be changed to match the player’s wants much more. How many hits, the points to hit from, and how swiftly the drills are done can all be changed.
This drill can be played with a partner or with a ball machine on a fast mode.
With a partner, the player is fed shots at random. The speed at which they are thrown can be made even faster, until the player is being ‘peppered’ with them.
The goal? To hit back as many shots as possible! This improves hand-eye coordination, speed, and technique.
- Hit the Ball Deep
This drill is perfect for maintaining a good length of a shot, correct serving swings, and keeping the player consistent.
This can also be played in partners. When hitting the ball deep, the player aims to hit high above the net, but hits a point between the service line and baseline.
- Playing Down the Alley or Pyramid
This drill keeps players aiming for certain points of the court to improve accuracy.
The players can stand on various court positions and aim for small areas opposite them over the net, hitting several shots at it in a row.
These areas can be made smaller as the accuracy improves, and the player can also move around the court.
Want to see this drill played live? Watch it here:
- Serve Drills – Motion, Power and Consistency
The serve is another fundamental tennis stroke.
These tennis serve drills can be split into three to improve motion, power, and consistency of your serve in that order.
To improve motion, face the net and focus on serving the ball while using the right muscles in the correct order.
For a more powerful serve, the arms and legs’ muscles have to be used to their full potential.
Warm up by practicing the serving motion while doing jumping squats over the court lines, or cones. Then focus on the muscles used while serving.
Now that the player has both motion and power, they can focus on consistent serves.
Serve ten or twenty balls aimed at one box of the court, or an even smaller area marked by cones. Aim to get the best scores possible.
For an excellent demonstration of these drills, watch here:
- Defense and Attack Drill
This drill will get players used to a more aggressive playing method.
First, the ball is sent in a wide arc to the corner of the court, and the player sends it back down the middle.
The second is strategically thrown into the other corner, so the player must run and switch angles.
To get a look at the agility necessary for this drill, watch here:
Tennis Drills for Advanced Players
If a tennis drill has already improved a player’s movement, precision, speed, and power, what else can be done?
Advanced tennis players may have more need for tennis drills, to maximize the results they get from practice.
Without a drill routine, an advanced player’s skills might decline!
When doing these more intensive tennis drills, keep in mind your goals. What specific points need to be improved based on your previous matches’ performance?
- Volley and Smash
The player should hit one volley and one smash into the same corner of the court, consecutively.
The corner of the court that is targeted, and the number of cycles from which shots are taken, can be changed; however, it is excellent to get more than 15-20 shots of well-aimed shots.
To test endurance, a player could keep hitting shots without taking a break between sets and see how many they can achieve in good form.
This drill requires a partner and will focus on keeping a player’s shots steady and strong.
The two players hit the ball back and forth, and try to keep it rising through to the baseline (the farthest line) of the court.
These are difficult to attack back at when done properly, but a weak baseline shot could quickly turn into the perfect opportunity for an opponent.
To understand how these two drills are done, watch here:
- Feeds from Behind
In this tennis drill, the player keeps close to the baseline and hits groundstrokes at about waist height. The ball will be thrown (and bounced once just in front of the player) from behind.
The player must keep their eye on the ball, react quickly, move forwards to hit it over the net, and then run back in time for the next shot.
This tennis drill is great for learning how to shift weight during a difficult play properly.
- Creating Space
This drill is perfect for simulating a tough match when wider angles are needed.
A player will take a wide stance from each corner of their court, hitting the ball into the opposing corners with groundstrokes.
The player should side-step quickly to the other corner with every ball, so the balls go in an X formation across the court. Or, the player could remain in one spot of the court and hit balls in a V formation instead. The stroke should be fast and sharp.
- Slice and Kills
This dangerous-sounding tennis drill will bring a player’s rallies to a new level.
The player can be fed balls by their partner from the side of the court, mixing up the pacing of their hits.
The stroke should be a smooth, graceful movement slicing through the air.
If able to do this correctly, the opponent will begin to feel pressured and may end up hitting a short ball back. This means the player can swoop in towards the net, hit the ball back with added strength, and fluster the opponent into a loss.
To see how the last three of these advanced tennis drills are practiced, watch this helpful video:
What Other Tennis Drills Are There?
There are many more tennis drills for every level of player – so many it would be difficult to list all of them in one place. However, many of those drills are simply variances of the ones listed above.
Keeping in mind, these drills are variable, and their pacing, angles, and intensity can all be adapted.
This is beneficial for any player who is striving to get their tennis drill routine exactly right, to achieve their goals. Whether it is learning the basics, practicing alone, or trying become a pro, these drills will definitely be helpful.
Playing Tennis For Fun? What Drills Should You Do?
Now that you are well-informed on various tennis drills that can be adapted for any type of tennis player, you might wonder what tennis drills there are for people who don’t play regularly.
If you only play for fun, or are looking for enjoyable activities to do together, many tennis drills can be perfect for any size of group!
To make these even more entertaining, a point system can be added so the drill becomes a game.
The drills can also be made more or less difficult according to the group’s ages. These drills are also an enjoyable way for young kids to get them to understand tennis without getting bored.
- Dodge Ball
This drill is played like a normal game of dodgeball. It is best played with a larger group, who will line up in front of the net. The game should be limited to the court – so all players will have to remain inside the white lines.
Another person (or two) will gently but quickly throw balls from outside the baseline, or use a racket to hit them from side to side.
Because tennis balls are smaller and have more of a chance to bounce, this should cause quite a bit of movement among the players. The last one to remain on the court without getting hit is deemed the winner!
This game can also help younger kids with their footwork and reaction speed and can be taught how the court, racket, and net usually work.
- Balance Course
This is fun for all ages, and can easily be made much harder for advanced players or for older kids.
Start with the ball on the racket in the frying pan position, and keep it balanced as the players walk to and from the net to the baseline. For children, this may already be challenging enough.
If the ball is too hard to balance, they can use a bean bag. To make this harder, ask the players to bounce the ball (like the Frying Pan drill) while running or even jumping over cones.
The ball could also be dribbled on the floor – the important part is the control players can exert over it!
- Serve Targets
This tennis drill can also be seen in the video for Volley and Smash. This game would be best played by intermediate and advanced players, through anyone could try it!
Play serves with one target available out of the four main serve goals. Have each player hit ten serves (or five if the group is bigger) and count how many they make. Anything above six is a great score!
To make this game even more fun, and easier for younger or beginner players, place two more targets closer to the net and at a wider angle, which will be easier to hit.
The easiest target can be worth half a point, the second hardest one point, and the main target worth two. This will make the point system work more in their favor for kids.
They will also see their progress in hitting the right target with their serves as they play over several rounds. One person can take turns keeping track of points to find the winner.
- Foursquare or Figure Eight
At least four players are necessary to play this game, and if the group is much larger, players could be swapped out after one cycle is completed.
In Foursquare, stand four players in clockwise-numbered squares. Have Player 4 serve the ball to Player 1, who can pass it to whoever they want. If a player misses or hits the ball back outside of the four squares, they can be eliminated (or replaced with a new player).
In Figure Eight, the same rules apply, only the boxes now take up each corner of the court. To make it easier, they could pass only to the player on their left.
- Volley to Volley
This can be difficult but is super fun for players of any level.
Have two players stand closer to the net and play a match of only volleys – trying to keep the pacing and intensity of their strokes consistent, so the opponent can match it.
Aim for as many volleys as possible, each counting as a point. Whichever player drops the ball first can be switched in with another, if playing as a group. This drill is a wonderful way to train for more control over a difficult stroke.