Tennis players do not always have the luxury of having a partner to play with every single time they had the urge to hit the courts. When that is the case, there are still ways to practice tennis and learn some of the skills needed to succeed in matches.
All of these drills below are great to do as either a warm-up, or for a full workout. Be sure to be a little creativity at times to find the best place to practice completely alone.
The first few drills are for people who have no partner, but they do have access to a tennis court. After that, there are a few drills that can be done even without a tennis court. With these drills in mind, a person will never have the excuse that they can’t play tennis on a particular day.
Drills On The Court
Having access to a tennis court without a partner opens up a lot of great opportunities for tennis players of all levels. Not only can people get a great workout, but some key components of the game can be focused on.
1. Serving Drills
This is perhaps the best drill out there when it comes to solo training. The server is the one shot in tennis that a player has complete control over, so it really does not matter all that much that there is no one on the other side of the net.
Attempting to hit hard serve after hard serve when practicing is one thing, but making it into more of a game-like scenario is the better move. People can start to put pressure on themselves by trying to hit first serve and second serves, and then switching every time they get one in. Advanced players can also work on placement inside the box, and spin that works best.
Serving is pretty hard to practice without a court, since it requires so much precision. However, if a person does find a wall that has a net line on it, a person can practice hitting a very specific part of the net to mimic landing balls in.
2. Ball Machine Work
Out of all suggestions here, this is the toughest for people to pull off since it requires a machine. However, it is also perhaps the best training method for a solo player, so it must be included.
A person can get very close to the same work out as playing against an actual opponent if they have access to a ball machine. There are plenty of workouts a person can try out with the machine, and advanced options can mimic almost any type of player.
Some people have the luxury of owning their own ball machine, and it is a worthy investment if a person plans on training a lot by themselves. Most will opt for a rental instead, as most tennis places will have something available to the general public. If you are thinking about buying one, I wrote an article about the best tennis ball machines on the market right now. If there is a specific stroke a person wants to practice, setting the machine up is easy to do for that purpose.
3. Drop Feeds To Yourself
This is a step up from just working on strokes without a ball. Now, a ball is implemented, but it is only dropped in front so that a person can practice their form without having to react.
This can help with specific skills so that people are feeling a lot more comfortable when they are ready to play an opponent. It is also a way to experiment with different grips and putting spin on the ball so that they can later be tried out against an opponent at a later time. This is just another way to build muscle memory, and it works best if a person can have access to a tennis court. This way, a person can start to work on hitting a ball into specific areas of the court, giving themselves an edge.
4. Cone Drills
Think of this as the advanced version of drop feeds. With cones, a person can force themselves to move around the court and hit different shots on the move, while also feeling more and more tired.
Sure, this is not going to mimic how everything goes in an actual match entirely, but it is worth giving a try for those who are bored standing around and hitting a lot of solo shots. It is a much better workout than one might expect.
Drills For Anywhere
Not everyone has access to a court to practice tennis by themselves. That is when a person needs to get creative if they want to get better. A lot of the drills below can be done at home, or anywhere with a little bit of space. Be creative, and there are always ways to improve, even if it just means the basics.
5. Bounce The Ball On The Racquet With Different Grips
This might seem like a fundamental drill only for beginners, but it is a way for even advanced players to warm up a bit. It is more of a challenge than people might think, and it can be done just about anywhere to improve the hands.
The first thing to do is to grab a forehand grip, and then hit as many balls up as possible. If a player can do this with relative ease by not putting a spin on the ball, the next step is to cut each ball just a little bit to mimic topspin or underspin.
Switching to the backhand can also help a person develop a general feel for the ball coming off a racquet. It might not seem like it translates too much to ask for match play, but it just helps a player feel like they have better control of shots. It also just happens to be a pretty good workout, even if people do not think of it that way initially.
6. Shadow Swing & Practice Footwork, With Video
One of the biggest advantages people have these days with any sport is access to video. Whether it is watching video training, or taking a video of a player, these options are available without having to put much effort into anything at all.
Videos of instructors, as well as top professionals, are easy to find online. Once a person studies certain strokes, it comes down to working on that footwork and shadowing what they do. To see if everything is matching up, there is no reason not to record while at home.
Footwork and proper stroke form without the ball might not seem like it would be that much, but it builds up muscle memory. By being able to analyze actual video, it will make people identify what is going wrong, and fix it sooner rather than later.
7. Wall Drills
A lot of tennis places will have a wall available for people to hit against if they are looking to improve their game without playing with a partner. While these setups are ideal, not everyone will have one close by. That is when some improvision is needed, and any wall will do for some type of practice.
Once the practice area is secured, different strokes can be practiced rather easily. Start up close and work on volleys, but do not be afraid to step back and hit some ground steps as well. The wall is probably going to hit the ball back a little faster than most people are used to, so that can help a person improve timing and put themselves in vulnerable positions at times.
Serving practice is also possible with a wall, and it just requires measuring things off properly. Before heading to any wall, measure off a tennis court close by to see how many steps it takes from the baseline to the net. The wall essentially becomes the net, so a person wants to line up similarly to mimic playing as much as possible.
8. Ball Toss Practice
If the serve is so important, a ball toss needs to be perfected. So many people overlook this part of the serve, and what they do not realize is that it can be practiced virtually anywhere.
The key to a good serve toss is to be as consistent as possible every single time. Instead of throwing the ball up in the air, it almost needs to be lifted and pushed in a very controlled sense. A lot of people run into trouble when they start tossing too high, as it can be very hard to get any level of consistency on the serve.
Practice at the courts, at home, and even without a racquet. The goal is to get it as consistent as possible that a person does not even think about it when serving.
9. Stamina, Fitness, & Footwork Drills
This final suggestion does not involve picking up a racquet, but it can vastly improve a player’s game by working on specific movements that are found on the court. Going through a tennis workout at home or the gym is pretty easy, and a person will notice a change in the game almost right away.
The higher level of tennis, the more it becomes a battle of fitness. Players must be able to last hours on the court, and that means training for tough conditions. A few exercises that are very good for tennis include:
- Jumping jacks
- Agility ladder workouts
- Squat jumps
- High knees
- Hip rotations
When breaking down points, it comes down to a lot of fast movements followed by a little bit of rest. When doing these exercises, try doing quite a few rounds with very few reps each time. This builds up that same type of stamina needed for tennis.