Learning how to become a skilled tennis player requires much more than learning how to swing a racket and hit a tennis ball.
It’s definitely part of it, but there are many other factors as well. If you want to compete at a high level, you must develop your agility and learn how to change directions while maintaining your balance.
Tennis is a fast-paced sport, so improving your ability to move around the court quickly and effectively will do wonders for your game.
While there is no replacement for match play and putting in the hours on the court, tennis footwork drills will help you with your positioning, balance, and speed.
To improve your on-court footwork and movement, we have highlighted three simple drills you can use to increase your agility and improve your overall tennis court movement.
You do not have to perform these drills on a tennis court, so they are great for those who want to improve their tennis skills from the comfort of their own home, the gym, or any outdoor space.
Drill #1 – The Ladder Run
Ladder run drills are popular amongst all types of athletes.
Not only are they an excellent warm-up and a great way to get your muscles moving before a match, but practicing a ladder run will also improve your footwork by improving speed and foot
– placement accuracy.
How to Perform the Ladder Run Drill
As the name suggests, a ladder run drill involves quickly moving through a series of boxes one foot at a time at a fast pace.
While running through an actual ladder is an easy way to roll an ankle, you can find agility ladders made for these drills. You can also use sidewalk chalk or any other markers to create boxes on the ground.
Ladder drills are usually performed by quickly running through the ladder and only placing one foot in each space. You can also mix things up by navigating your way through the ladder using a sideways shuffle or by skipping a box with longer strides.
We recommend picking up the Teenitor 13 Rung Agility Ladder. It is made from high-quality materials and is available at an affordable price. It also comes with a convenient carrying bag, so you can even take it to your local tennis court to warm up before matches.
The footwork pattern of ladder drills helps strengthen your muscles, ligaments, joints, and tendons, which will help you avoid injuries on the court. They also help with cardiovascular performance and are an excellent way to improve speed, coordination, and focus.
When performed correctly, this tennis drill will improve your reflexes, balance, speed, and overall agility. All of which is important for the sport of tennis.
Drill #2 – The Cone Slalom
Cone slalom drills are a great way to improve agility and speed.
The side-to-side split step movement is useful for many sports but is particularly helpful in tennis as players must be able to quickly move laterally.
How to Perform the Cone Slalom Drill
Place a series of cones, or similar objects, in a straight line with about two feet between them. Once you have laid down your markers, start at one end and weave your way through using small, sideways steps.
Move forward slightly with each sideways shuffle. With proper footwork, you should be able to weave your way through the entire series of cones in a shoelace pattern while always facing directly forward.
As you practice, your speed will improve. Once you have built up your skills, you can perform the same movement but backward using a backpedaling movement.
Cones are useful in this drill. But, as long as you have a marker, you can perform a cone slalom without them.
If you would prefer the convenience of having a set of cones, we recommend the GoSports Low-Profile Agility Training Cones. Each pack contains 20 cones, and they are both flexible and highly visible. They also stack and come with a convenient mesh carrying bag.
Practicing the cone slalom drill regularly will improve your ability to change direction quickly. It is beneficial for coordination and body awareness. You can use them as part of a warm-up routine or to improve stamina, muscle strength, and agility.
Working on your ability to perform sideways movements quickly is both practical and beneficial for the sport of tennis. If you want to improve your hand-eye coordination as you do this drill, you can perform it with your tennis racket and swing each time you weave through a new cone.
Drill #3 – Sprinting Cone Calls
For the following drill, you will need a partner. This drill involves running to a specific location on command, then returning to the starting point as quickly as possible.
When you are running to the called position or returning to the starting point, you always face forward, like you would on a tennis court.
How to Perform the Sprinting Cone Calls Drill
Start by setting up four cones or markers in a square shape. The cones should be about seven feet apart from each other.
Assign a number to each of the four cones and then stand in the middle of them. Have your partner call out one of the four numbers randomly.
Once a number has been called, sprint to that cone as quickly as you can. Remember, two of the cones will be behind you, so you should run back to them when your partner calls those numbers.
Once you have touched the cone, you should return to the middle point as quickly as possible. Imagine you are on a tennis court and a net is in front of you. Always face the imaginary net, no matter which direction you are running.
After returning to the starting point, your partner will call out another number, and you will repeat the process.
While cones work well, they are not necessary. As long as you have four clear markers, you can perform the drill.
You can use tennis rackets, equipment bags, items of clothing, or anything else that will stay in place as you perform the drill.
This drill will help you improve your speed, reaction time, and ability to run backward and forward interchangeably. It will also improve your ability to change direction quickly.
It is a great drill to work on if you plan on playing singles, as you will need to cover the entire court on your own. It is also excellent for improving your cardio and stamina, so it is worth practicing at least once per week.
Incorporate Tennis Footwork Drills into Practice Sessions
Improving upon your tennis footwork is a never-ending endeavor. Staying light on your feet with body awareness will help you immeasurably with your movement on a tennis court.
It took more than one practice session to learn how to serve, so you can’t expect your footwork or court movement to improve without consistently working at it.
Forehand drills and backhand drills are likely a consistent part of your weekly practices. Make these three footwork drills a part of your routine as well.
Try them out for a few weeks and I’m sure you’ll see improvement.