Tennis Footwork Drills

Tennis Footwork Drills

Playing tennis has so many benefits. It is a good sport for maintaining your health, fitness, body strength, and agility. It has social and psychological benefits too.

It is a game of constant movement. A tennis player makes an average of four directional changes per every short point. Moreover, it can range from a single movement to more than fifteen directional changes on every point.

Many times, during competitive matches, it is common for players to make around 1000 directional changes.

The movement patterns in tennis make the footwork play a significant role in supporting them.

Footwork fosters movement, making it possible for the player to hit the right shot at the right time.

This article will present a detailed discussion on footwork, with a guide to some footwork drills to be practiced.

Importance of Footwork in Tennis

Footwork is considered the key element of the game of tennis.

It is the base of everything that will be done on the court. Footwork is all about being intense with the lower body while keeping the upper body relaxed; this is crucial to good performance.

Intense feet mean you recover quicker, get to the next ball faster, and have more time to prepare for the shot.

Maria Kirilenko, a former Russian professional tennis player, states that everything in tennis begins with the feet. “If you get your feet moving quickly and into the right position, you can find that you can cut out a lot of mistakes from your game.

So, think about your feet and what you do with them – it is such an important part of tennis.”

You might think that most of the work in tennis is done by hand. But, little did you notice that without the movement of the feet, the hand’s actions are futile.

A tennis player can have strong groundstrokes, but without adequate balance when swinging the racket or inability to reach the ball, then the purpose of such groundstrokes is put into question.

Some of the main benefits of good footwork are listed below:

  • Good footwork transforms the whole game.
  • It reduces the number of unforced errors.
  • It allows you to run around your backhand to play an attacking forehand.
  • It ensures that the body is balanced when a player has to hit the shot.
  • It improves speed and reactions overall

What are Tennis Footwork Drills?

Tennis Footwork Drills are repetitive exercises that can sometimes require equipment.

These drills intend to stimulate the foot movement of the players.

Each drill that is practiced needs to be considered as a discrete activity. Initial drills were only meant to be a starting point from which to progress towards learning genuine techniques.

In the modern game, tennis footwork drills have become essential. Not only do they enhance footwork patterns, but they also result in the skill development of an athlete.

Elements of footwork that the drills will improve are:

  • Agility: The footwork drill improves agility. This allows you to move around the court with speed, as well as maintaining control over your actions. This prevents players from injuring themselves.

  • Balance: Footwork is the core of the performance in the court. Tennis footwork drills build up that balance and control in a player, which helps them better manage their actions and reactions.

  • Coordination: These drills polish up the skills of coordination and helps with time malmanagement for all kinds of shots and positions.

  • Conditioning: The time spent on footwork is time spent improving fitness. This will turn into better performance on the court. The improved fitness will better enable the player to cover a great distance and maintain a high level of skill on the court.

  • Mental Strength: Mental strength does not only require bodily strength, but a player needs to be strong mentally to support this. Tennis footwork drills also challenge the player’s mind to execute complex movements, which, in turn, allows for the learning of more valuable techniques.

Equipment required for Tennis Footwork Drills

There is no specific equipment for tennis footwork drills; the same equipment used to play tennis can be used.

But to be more specific with the exercises, the following equipment can be acquired:

Agility Ladder and Speed Cones

The agility ladder and speed cones are, without a doubt, the essential items required for tennis footwork drills.

Whether a novice player or a seasoned professional, it is the best tool to channel the footwork skills. Both the ladder and the cones help to build several valuable physical assets.

The agility ladder helps the player learn agility and mobility on the tennis court. It improves the speed of the feet. Speed cones build both the footwork and the top-end speed.

The consistent use of an agility ladder will help polish up the footwork.

TopspinPro - Tennis Training Aid

This is an essential tool, especially for those who prefer doing drills alone, without a coach.

A professional-level forehand and backhand topspin can raise the player’s level of performance from good to excellent.

The TopspinPro – Tennis Training Aid will help gain that topspin on shots required to reach the advanced level.

The tool is constructed to force a player to swing, bounce, or jump in various directions to hit the perfect shot, which helps to develop grip over the coordination between hands and feet and the shot of the ball.

Tennis Donut Links

This piece of equipment helps improve agility on the court and to learn various footwork patterns in tennis.

Anyone can use these tennis donuts at any skill level or age. These are most suited to beginners and young people who have just started playing tennis.

The rings help to solidify the proper footwork positions in mind. To fully benefit from these rings, it is really important to have a hold over the movement. Only then can it be translated into powerful and efficient groundstrokes.

Footwork is all that tennis is based upon, and these doughnut rings are the best equipment to start practicing the footwork drill with.

K-Bands (Speed and Strength Leg Resistance Bands)

These leg resistance bands are the best piece of equipment to develop coordination between feet and legs. It builds speed and agility by improving the explosiveness of the movements.

It improves the lateral footwork in the court by building resistance in the legs and strength in bend the knees. These bands play an important role in building the lower center gravity.

Click here for further information about equipment and to know about the places you can buy it.

Not only will you get detailed information about the tools, but the website also guides you about the pros and cons of using a particular tool.

Click here for specialized information about the Tennis Donut Ring and K-bands. These two sites will give you all the required information.

5 Most Valuable Tennis Footwork Drills for Tennis Players

In tennis, perfecting the techniques as well as the footwork goes hand in hand.

This means that tennis drills can have a major impact on the whole game.  Five of the most valuable tennis drills and the procedure to perform them are discussed below:

Spider Drill

This is a well-known tennis footwork drill that is practiced by almost every player, as it is a great way to improve movement and agility.

A player starts with the center mark of the baseline facing the net. The drilling technique is as follows:

  • Sprint right to the corner formed by the baseline.
  • Sprint back to the center mark.
  • After getting control over a single tight sideline, shift to the left single sideline, and practice this movement over again and again.

For more tips and tricks on spider drills, check out the video at the following link:

Cross Cones Drill

Cross cone drills enhance the agility and movement of the player, which collectively contributes towards improving footwork in the long term. The drill techniques are:

  • Place cones A and B five yards apart on the service line so that the center service line is in the middle of the two cones.
  • Place Cone C about 4 yards and Cone D about 7 yards from the center service line.
  • Start at T, and take the side steps between cones A and B.
  • Then sprint to C, and D afterward
  • Resume this shuffling for some time until you develop control over it.

For more tips and tricks on cross-cones drills, check out the video at the following link:

Figure 8 Drill

The figure 8 drill is the best option to improve the lateral movement of the feet, as well as the forward and backward movement. It also helps to develop side steps and makes small steps adjustments in the court.

The drill techniques are:

  • Place 2 cones about five feet apart.
  • Move around the cones laterally and diagonally, in a way that your movement makes figure eight around the cones.

For more tips and tricks on cross-cone drills, check out the video at the following link:

Service Box Crossover Drill

This drill improves the crossover technique. As well as adding to the agility and footwork, this drill also improves acceleration and deceleration.

The drill techniques are:

  • Start with one foot in the double alley and the other in a single court facing the net.
  • Using the foot in the double alley crossover in the front and move across the court sideways.
  • Decelerate and change your directions
  • Repeat the same movement with the other leg.

For more tips and tricks on service box crossover drills, check out the video at the following link:

Mini tennis Z Drills

Making short steps near the net is crucial. Sometimes the player needs to hit the ball from as close to the net as possible.

Mini Tennis Z drills are almost like a mini tennis game occurring in the box. It is essential in helping the player improve reaction time.

The drill techniques are:

  • The game requires two or more players
  • The players use underhand throws to toss the z-ball
  • The players must let the ball bounce once and hit it before it touches the ground again.

For more tips and tricks on mini tennis z drills, check out the video at the following link:

Tennis Footwork Drills for Beginners

If you are a beginner, these three tennis footwork drills are best for you to practice. The best thing about these drills is they can be practiced at home, making them very accessible to do.

Ladder Drills

These drills are the best way to work on the fast movements and the coordination required to execute them. 

In tennis, a player must cover almost all the court and take plenty of small steps before hitting the ball.

Practicing these small steps on the ladder can prove to be of great help. It’s not necessary to have an advanced level to perform this drill; for those who play tennis just as an extracurricular or simply because it’s a fun sport, practicing this drill will increase coordination and stamina.

Ladder drills can be divided into two types: a simple ladder run and a 2-step ladder.

The former requires running through the ladder by putting just one foot in the box and repeating the process several times.

In the latter, both feet can be put into each box to run across the ladder. This is a tougher exercise but will surely sharpen up footwork by making it clearer and faster.

For more tips and tricks on ladder drills, check out the video at the following link:

Lateral Quick Steps

The majority of the time on the tennis court is spent laterally, making it crucial to practice these movements.

Moving side by side is comparatively tougher than moving forward or backward. Whether you are doing it with holes or simply using some other surface, you can start it with one foot in each hole to two later on.

For more tips and tricks on lateral quick step drills, check out the video at the following link:

High Knees Drill

The high knee drills add to the quick lateral steps by cranking them up a notch.

This drill adds an extra layer of difficulty to the practice and is a good way to replicate the intensity and keep the heart pumping, allowing you to cover long points during the game.

As the drill gets intense, the player needs to keep the footwork precise to cope with the court’s demands.

For more tips and tricks on high knee drills, check out the video at the following link:

Structuring the Tennis Footwork Drills

Tennis is a sport that involves a lot of movement, so having great footwork will put a player in the best position to hit the ideal shot.

There is a big difference between hitting a shot on the spot without any movement and hitting a ball during a full run.

Tennis players should move in several directions with precision, speed, and coordination. Tennis footwork drills should incorporate a wide assortment of movements.

Single leg drills are especially essential to tennis players, as they should frequently stop, build equilibrium, and shift the body weight the other way from a solitary leg. A strong lower body is essential to viable movement training.

With a decent base, tennis players can advance into low-force plyometric training.

Click the following link to check out the video by Top Tennis Training mentor Simon Konov, in which he demonstrates five tennis footwork drills that will assist you with improving your footwork and development on the court:

Move like Federer by learning the following Tricks

Everybody who likes tennis will most likely look up to Roger Federer. You can become more like him by just following three steps:

  1. Split Step: This step is explosive. Federer uses the ground as a springboard. He uses it to bounce as much as he can.

    His split step is in sync with his opponent’s contact point. By the time his opponent contacts the ball, he is either in the air or close to landing, meaning he rarely misses the ball.

    The split step keeps the player balanced and ready to move in any direction as the ball comes towards them.

  2. Crossover Step: Roger Federer often uses crossover steps in his matches, as it is his favorite footwork technique.

    He uses it mainly during recovery from wider balls. A good crossover step allows you to cover a huge distance by just taking one or two steps.

    It saves time and will not consume much of your energy during competition or practice tennis matches.

  3. Cross-Behind Step: Roger Federer usually uses this footwork technique while recovering from deep balls.

    Here, the legs are not aligned; it is a lateral movementin which the opposite foot makes the first step. The players in this position hold the ball in sight and cross the moves to an optimal point for an accented hit from the above.

Practicing these three easy steps with determination and hard work can bring you somewhat closer to how Roger Federer performs in the game.  Check out how to do these steps by clicking on this, watching the video on the following link: 

Who has the best footwork in Tennis?

Although every player works extensively on their footwork, Roger Federer is considered to have the best footwork in tennis.

His footwork is the glue that holds his entire gameplay together. It allows him to defend in points when he has to and attacks when the opponent gives him a chance.

It is not just Federer, but the footwork of Novak Djokovic largely contributed towards his incredible success.

Justine Heninovercame her opponent because of the court coverage that right footwork provided her with. Jim Courier and John McEnroe also consider working on their footwork even at an older age.

In conclusion, it is very clear that footwork is an important part of the game of tennis.

There are different ways to practice footwork, as demonstrated by the drill examples effectively.

To ensure good performance and a winning game, footwork cannot be neglected.

Even though it might seem a little tedious at times, it’s crucial to make time for practicing tennis footwork.