Guide to Tennis Drills

When you play tennis, there is a lot going on each time you hit the ball. Whether it is your footwork, hand-eye coordination, ability to judge distance and speed, or choice of racket grip, you will be making numerous almost instantaneous decisions. One of the best ways to improve all of these individual elements is to practise tennis drills.

Tennis drills break down various skills you need to play the sport successfully and make you practise them over and again. Over time, these movements will enter your muscle memory and help improve your game.  

Let's look at why you should do this form of training, then explore some key tennis drills for beginners.

Benefits of tennis drills

Adding some tennis drills into your training routine can bring many benefits to your overall game. Here are just some of the key benefits of tennis drills for beginners:

  • Muscle memory: By performing the same actions over and again (such as gripping the racket or placing your feet), your body will remember how to do the action without you needing to spend time thinking – and that means you react faster.
  • Hand-eye coordination: Tennis requires advanced hand-eye coordination - tennis drills help you to control the racket and ball better.
  • Improve your timing: Performing tennis drills helps you to better judge the right moment to strike the ball depending on its speed and position in the court.
  • Boost your confidence: Doing tennis drills allows you to practise specific skills until you feel more confident doing them and can weave them into your regular gameplay.

5 key tennis drills for beginners

There are many different kinds of tennis drills you can include in your practice, but the following five exercises focus on elements that will help your all-round development. You can do some of them alone, while others will require a partner.

1. Dribbling

Dribbling is one of the most useful tennis drills for beginners. To dribble the tennis ball you simply drop it on the floor while holding your racket face down to the ground. You then simply bounce the ball between the ground and your racket.

How it helps: This tennis drill is particularly useful for improving your hand-eye coordination, as well as your timing.

2. Forehand and backhand groundstroke drills

This is a great tennis drill for groups - or just one on one with a friend. Your partner stands in the middle of their service box while you stand on the baseline. They then toss the ball towards you so it bounces once and you simply return the ball with either a forehand or a backhand depending on where your partner throws it.

How it helps: This is a great tennis footwork drill as it forces you to switch between a forehand position and a backhand position. It is also a great way of improving your grip and hand-eye coordination.

3. Volley drills

Tennis volley drills work in a similar way to groundstroke drills. Your partner stands in the middle of the court and tosses the ball directly at you. Then, you attack the ball mid-air holding the racket with the continental grip.

How it helps: Volley drills are great for improving your grip and handling of the tennis racket. They’re also great tennis footwork drills.

4. Tennis serve drills

In a tennis serve drill, the goal is to improve your confidence and accuracy when serving. To begin with, you stand two metres behind the net and serve the ball into the opposite service box. Once you have served three balls correctly you step back two metres and perform the same action again, then continue until you are serving from the baseline. If you miss more than two serves in a row, you must go back to the beginning and start again.

How it helps: Tennis serve drills are great for improving your accuracy, footwork, hand-eye coordination, and your muscle memory.

5. Tennis agility drills

There are several different kinds of tennis agility drills (which are a form of cardio tennis drills) which are all designed to get you moving quickly around the court and improve your footwork. These include:

  • Spider drills: In a spider drill, you run forward and backwards in eight directions from the centre of the baseline. Facing the net, you first move sideways to the right-hand tram line and back to the centre. Next, you sprint diagonally forward to the front right of the net and back, then straight towards the net and back. You keep on running to and from the baseline until you have covered all angles.
  • Zig zag drills: This is another cardio tennis drill where you start sprinting forward from the back right of the tennis court to the net, step back diagonally to the centre of the baseline before sprinting forward and so on.
  • Side to side tennis agility drills: These drills are about practising your footwork as you go left and right along the baseline whilst facing forward. It’s important to wear stable tennis shoes when doing this kind of drill, to avoid slipping. 

How it helps: Tennis agility drills are fantastic for your footwork, spatial awareness and for improving your fitness.

More tennis tips: Head over to ASICS’ Tennis Academy and learn tennis skills 

Even the pros practice tennis drills

Tennis drills are essential if you hope to improve your skills at the game - even the world's greatest players continually practise tennis drills to improve their skills. By building a few different drills into your regular practice, you will soon start to notice the effects they have on your game.