How To Practice Tennis Without A Partner: The Complete Guide

How To Practice Tennis Without A Partner: The Complete Guide

Currently going solo when it comes to tennis practice?

Life gets in the way, and sometimes your friend or better half can’t make it to practice, but that doesn’t mean you have to avoid it altogether; you’ve still got a skill to refine.

One of the best ways to practice your tennis game is with a tennis ball machine, and at least an hour to get used to the feeling of how it serves.

It can take some getting used to, but don’t worry; we’re going to go over all the reasons why you should be using one, as well as the best practice drills to build your skills.

You could hit against the backboard if you want, but a tennis ball machine has clear advantages and proves to be the best way to practice alone.

7 Benefits of Tennis Ball Machines

Tennis ball machines are the way to go, and we totally understand if you’re hesitant about buying one.

Without it, the background is basically your only option for practice, and it doesn’t bring you many benefits.

Instead, tennis ball machines can help you train better than ever with the following benefits.

#1 Consistency is Key

Female Tennis Player And Tennis Ball Machine

You need to stay consistent, or you’re not going to get anything done.

You’re here for the long haul, not to quit early, so stay at it.

Tennis ball machines help you with that, but they also help keep engagement up since you won’t be bored out of your mind.

With all the different modes that you can set this to, there’s no shortage of different speeds and different modes to try out.

With any skill, there has to be a weekly (or sometimes daily) minimum threshold of practice applied to any skill.

If you don’t stay consistent with something, it’s never going to pay off.

Maintenance costs on tennis ball machines are low, and they allow you to get endless hours of practice without being a big expense.

The only thing is you also have to be consistent with how much you replace the balls, which can be a bit of a pain.

#2 Endurance Training

Tennis ball machines are, well, machines—the goal is to train you to be like one as well.

The more balls you can hit in a successful set, the higher your endurance will be.

Imagine that you’re in the longest match of your tennis career, on an unbelievably hot day, and you have to keep going.

A lack of endurance is going to tire you out and ruin your chances of success. You need to be strong the entire way through.

A tennis ball machine aids you in endurance training by just relentlessly firing ball after ball at you.

Do you want to outlast your opponent during a stalemate match?

This is how you do it. Depending on the capacity of your tennis ball machine, you’ll be able to just let that thing fire repeatedly without having to stop.

#3 Repetition Helps With Skill Mastery

Using Tennis Ball Machine

You want to stay consistent in your tennis schedule, but consistency isn’t the sole reason people get better—you need repetition, something that tennis ball machines are specifically good at.

Repeating the same thing over and over again allows you to learn it to a tee.

Sure, your opponents aren’t going to serve balls the way that a machine does, but what if it comes close?

What if they serve similarly enough and you’ve spent a hundred hours fighting against a machine? Repetition is how you become a master in something.

Your innate skill is only going to get you so far; you have to put in the hours to retrain your muscles, your muscle memory, adapt to new playstyles, and more.

You’ve got what it takes, you just have to put in the work.

#4 Playing Solo Anytime You Want

Your buddy’s got to work this weekend, and your other friends are going out of town.

Well, what are you going to do, just not play tennis?

Nope.

With a tennis ball machine, every minute of the day can be game time.

If you’ve followed our guide on DIY tennis courts and you’ve made one yourself, then you’ll have an entire court to yourself with nothing to worry about.

They say that when you really want to get good at something and focus on it, sacrifices need to be made.

Whether you have nobody to play with or you simply want to fine-tune your skills, sacrifice that outing or that video game time and play some solo matches with your tennis ball machine.

It’s going to make an impact on your overall skill, in a good way.

#5 Worry-Free Teaching

Couple Playing Tennis With Machine

If you’re a newcomer to the world of tennis, then it can be a little daunting to get started on a public or private court.

That’s okay because a tennis ball machine is basically your perfect answer.

Private, nobody to watch you, no anxiety floating around while you try to figure out your perfect form—it’s fantastic.

It’s worry-free practice as far as we’re concerned, and it’s something that you can’t find elsewhere.

It’s important to have a calm and easy time learning, otherwise, you eliminate the fun from it and spoil the whole experience for yourself.

Skill without passion is just upsetting, and nothing will suck the passion out of it faster than anxiety and self-doubt.

#6 Helps You With Your Stance and Swing Form

If you’re playing a match against someone, your stance and form are going to be tested.

You’ll have to switch it up and keep your opponent guessing. With a tennis ball machine, you can individually practice each stance type by setting it to different modes.

From there, you’ll be able to master them one by one and improve your game.

When you’re in a round of tennis and you’re about to serve, your opponent, if they’re skilled enough, can look at your stance to determine what type of serve you’re going to hit them with.

You don’t want to give away all your secrets; practice each of them, and learn how to keep them subtle by going through the motions again and again.

#7 Save on Club Costs

Training At Tennis Club

Clubs are pricey, and even then, you still have to have someone go with you.

Either that or you end up paying for a tennis teacher, which can cost you a hundred bucks an hour (and sometimes more).

More clubs don’t have or won’t allow tennis ball machines, so you’re only paying a one-time cost to get one for yourself instead of club membership.

Initially, a tennis ball machine is going to cost you a pretty penny, but it will quickly pay for itself.

Some clubs have $200 or more in monthly costs (not including all the extras that they want to have you tack on), and initial upfront costs can exceed five figures.

Yeah, we’d pick a tennis ball machine and a DIY court over that any day of the week.

How do You Practice Your Serve?

There are multiple ways you can do it, but for the sake of tennis ball machines being fairly predictable, this is how you’re going to want to improve your base serve technique.

  • Practice your toss. Your swinging arm might be excellent, but you’re never going to know if you’re serving yourself crummy tosses. The beautiful thing about tennis is that you control your own serve, so you dictate how it goes down.
  • Focus on the center of gravity. This is one of the most important aspects of your serve. If your COG is off, then it’s going to force you to lean forward when you land. That throws off how you chase when your opponent hits the ball back during a regular match.
  • Keep your thoughts and focus on hitting the ball, not on what your opponent is doing. This is another reason why tennis ball machines are great for practice; they take all the stress and pressure away.

7 Drills for Practicing with a Tennis Ball Machine

Now it’s time to put this new machine to good use.

You need to put in the hours if you want to be the greatest, or at the very least improve your game for the club circuit.

These are the 7 best drills you can do with tennis ball machines to make that happen.

#1 Consistent King

Tennis Ball Machine Training

This drill is essentially the very best thing you can do with a tennis ball machine, and it works for a mixture of skill levels from newcomers to experts.

You want the ball in an alley of the court (narrow rectangles on either side of your half of the court).

From there you want to keep it on about half power, or at least between 40-60%. Let it start firing down the alley, with you standing all the way on the other side.

Simply hit the ball back, and repeat the process.

Try to angle it slightly towards the net so you don’t crack one of these back towards the tennis ball machine, but hey, if you do that just means your precision is getting stronger.

To increase the skill level, move closer to the machine by about three feet at a time until it feels a bit faster.

#2 The Cross-Courter

Standing far back on your side of the court, you’re going to knock these balls in a criss-cross pattern.

On the other side of the net, the tennis ball machine will fire at about 70% power right over the net.

Lean to the right and knock the ball so it crisscrosses over the net and goes on the opposite side of the tennis ball machine.

For the next ball, lean left and knock it to the appropriate side of the machine. This trains your arm radius pretty well, while also focusing on hand-eye coordination.

During this exercise, you’ll find out what your dominant leg feels like while it’s in the throws of consistent training.

Focus on your dominant side and strengthen it. For an added challenge, increase the power from the machine.

#3 The Sequencer

Training With Tennis Ball Machine

This is a fun one.

While standing on the opposite side of the court, have the ball machine center, but angled slightly by a degree or two so it’s not aimed perfectly straight at you.

This helps out because, in an actual tennis match, your opponent isn’t going to shoot perfectly straight—that would be too easy for you.

When you lean in to hit the ball, you want to aim at four different positions.

The first ball should go to the side of the machine, the next on the other side closer to the net, and the last two behind the machine on either side.

This can get a bit tricky, but the point is to repeat this same pattern again so you get used to the different ways that your opponent may fling the ball towards you.

#4 The Depth Demon

You’re going for depth here, but that should come as no surprise.

Depth in tennis hits is best measured in how much of a curve you can hit your ball at, so for example, you’ll be hitting the ball and having it curve around the edge of the net.

Stand straight, hit to the side, and have the ball curve around. The point of this drill is to understand how the ball reacts to certain hits.

While the aim is to curve it to the side and have it land behind the net in a legal move, your hit isn’t going to be the same every time.

This is an excellent primer for matches against other players.

#5 The Approacher

Tennis Ball Machine Drill

Straight shots, curved hit.

This is like a lesser version of the Depth Demon, but you don’t have to make it meet the same point of contact on the other side of the net.

Instead, your goal is to position the tennis ball machine on the halfway point of the adjacent court and take up a mirrored position on your side. Kick it on at about 60% power.

Now you’ll just hit the ball so that it curves slightly to the left, then slightly to the right.

Instead of the cross-courter, where you’re heavily leaning into this, you don’t have to move your entire body with the approacher.

If you positioned everything correctly, you can remain stationary while the machine lobs the balls towards you.

#6 Deep Driller

This one’s a fun drill because you’re going to use it to test out your power and quick reflexes.

Positioning the ball machine in the center point of the opponent side court, you’re going to stand against the backboard of your own court and let the machine hit at 100% power.

These will be fastballs, but that’s what you want. Alternate between right and left, and absolutely pound these.

You’ll try to get the left and right side of the ball machine, but there’s a twist: pick one side to hit with a curve, and another to hit straight.

Either way, the ball should go against the backboard at the other end of the opponent court and fizzle out. Hit these with power as your championship depended on it.

#7 The Volley-Baller

Tennis Ball Machine Training

You’re going to win this with fancy footwork.

You need to keep your feet planted and steady, and then shift slowly when you go to hit these balls.

Set the machine at the back end of the court near the backboard, and on your side, stand close to the net.

The second these come over the net, you want to hit them in an alternating pattern. You want to swing about 45° to the left so that it goes back in a similar angle to the backboard.

Alternatively, you want to repeat the same thing on the right side, alternating between them at a rapid pace.

The point is that you can’t move your feet to a different spot; you have to work with the stance and positioning that you have.

From there you need to hit these as quickly as possible, so if you have the option, set your tennis ball machine to a faster speed.

Solo Training for the Big Day

Ready to hit the ground running?

We’ve covered the best tennis ball machines for singular person use, as well as the best drills to get you going.

All that’s left to do is put in the time and effort to improve your skill to the best of your abilities. You’ve got this.

Practice the drills we’ve outlined, and you’ll see massive improvements in a short amount of time.

Tennis isn’t the most difficult sport to learn, but it does require some of the most diligent practice out there to remain on top.

Your steps, stance, and swings all have to be precise; a tennis ball machine is how you get that done.

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