17 Best Tennis Drills

These drills are all possible with the help of just one other person. The great things is, both players benefit from the training in most cases as well. No one has to pretend they are an instructor for too long.

Tennis players are always looking for ways to improve their game on the court as much as possible. The problem is, it’s just not going to be financially feasible to sign up for lessons and spend a lot of money on improvement for most.


1. Crosscourt Forehands

1. Start in the same formation as serving in the deuce court.

2. Feed the ball to the opponent, working on hitting deep groundstrokes crosscourt using forehands.

3. Play points out to add a different element to the drill.

What It Works On

Even though it’s commonly referred to as crosscourt forehands, this is just going from side to side on the deuce court. If a right-hander and a left-hander are practicing together, the appropriate stroke has its focus to hit crosscourt.

Not only does this work with consistency on a certain stroke, but overall control as well. Players know what is coming, and they can begin to focus on putting balls in the right spots. It makes some players a bit uncomfortable at first, but it pays off to learn how to use crosscourt angles appropriately.


2. Crosscourt Backhands

1. Start in the same formation as serving in the advantage court.

2. Feed the ball to the opponent, working on hitting deep groundstrokes crosscourt using backhands.

3. Play points out to add a different element to the drill.

What It Works On

Having the ability to hit crosscourt backhands consistently is just as crucial as forehands. Once a player figures out that their opponent can’t hit particularly well on one wing, they tend to really focus on that. By building up consistency on the weaker wing, it’s much easier to start seeing results.

Make sure to take the opportunity to move up in the court a bit at times as well. It shouldn’t always be about focusing on groundstrokes from the baseline.


3. 20-Ball Rally

1. Line up in the middle of the court near the baseline.

2. Feed the ball to the opponent, playing out the point.

3. Focus on hitting balls in with high-percentage strokes.

4. After reaching 20, both players try to win the point.

What It Works On

This is one of the best ways to work on shot control and endurance as well. To be a successful tennis player, there must be a way to keep up with long rallies. It only takes a few of these to really tire out even the most in-shape players.

Make sure to take some time between each rally, but a proper amount as well. Try to simulate match play as much as possible. It makes no sense to do this once, and then sit down to drink some water and rest. Do these in sets of four or more, and then have the opportunity to take a slight breather.


4. 5 Great Shots

1. Line up in the middle of the court near the baseline.

2. Feed the ball to the opponent, playing out the point.

3. Look for angles early in the rally, setting up a potential winning shot on the 5th.

4. Move up or down a stroke for an added variance.

What It Works On

As great as the 20 ball rally is above, the reality is that a tennis player who can hit five great shots during appoint will often win the match. It might seem fairly simple, but against high-quality players, it becomes a challenge.

Try to make the first few shots pretty high percentage, looking to extend the rally or forcing an unforced error from the opposition. By shot four, the focus should be turning to offense, unless a player find themselves in a very vulnerable position anyway.


5. Volley-to-Volley

1. Start at the service line and feed the ball to the opponent. 

2. Exchange volleys in a similar manner as standard rallies.

3. Set target numbers to work on consistency.

What It Works On

What’s great about this drill is that both players can benefit from it at the same time. So many volley drills only help out one person at a time, but this can turn into a mini-game of sports. Players are always trying to keep up with each other and keep a rally going for a long time.


6. Serve & Volley

1. One player serves, while the other receives.

2. Server’s focus is on getting the serve in, and then moving up towards the net for all additional shots.

3. Attempt to make every shot after the serve a volley.

4. Take turns serving and receiving.

What It Works On

Not that many people play a serve and volley type of tennis game in today’s world. The way technology is, it can be very tough to use the strategy against good players. However, it does allow people to train and use it as a surprise method of sorts.

Training how to play serve and volley makes players feel a bit more comfortable with their movement. It no longer feels foreign to pull something like this off when moving in.


7. Cone Serving

1. Line up cones in certain corners on the court. Make sure to focus on serves up the T, and out wide.

2. First round of serves should have a lot of space between the cones. Each additional round, shrink the target area to focus on additional precision.

3. Turn cone serving into a game with a partner, giving points for serves within the cones, and a bonus for hitting a cone.

What It Works On

Everyone focuses on power with their first serve, but location in the service box matters just as much. In fact, a hard serve right at an opponent is much easier to return that one that hits the line.

Cones can be moved around between first and second rounds for interested parties. Getting consistency down will make service games that would easier.


8. Alley Rallying

1. Line up on either doubles alley with a partner across the net.

2. Start the point out with a simple feed.

3. Only shots inside the alley lines are good.

4. Add a scoring element for more competition.

What It Works On

The doubles alleys are tiny windows for players to try to hit inside. It requires pinpoint accuracy to keep a rally going in such a small area. Constantly trying to improve on the number of shots that fall in the area is a great mini-game to play. If shots are missed, it is still easy to keep up with the point instead of stopping play.


9. Three Volley

1. Both players start at the baseline. One person starts out as the volleyer. 

2. After the initial ball, move in to hit volleys at different parts of the court.

3. Close out the final volley at the net with an attempted winner.

4. Switch roles

What It Works On

Volleys come in all shapes and sizes, so it doesn’t make much sense to stand in one spot. It is effortless to hit volley after volley standing in one place, so this gets a person moving quite a bit. It helps out the returner as well, because they still need to hit quality shots that are in the court to cause a player to volley.


10. Overhead Practice With Movement

1. One player feeds a ball from the baseline to the other player at net. The feed is a lob over the head of the net player.

2. The net player runs back and hits the overhead. 

3. After hitting the overhead, that player then runs to the net to tap it with their racquet. After tapping the net, the goal is to locate and hit the next lob.

4. Drill works with just one ball, or a bucket of balls.

5. Alternate between players after 10 reps.

What It Works On

Overheads seem like very easy shots, but they need practice just like everything else. One of the best ways to simulate standard play is to add movement to the mix. If a player is staying mostly stagnant, it becomes a lot easier to hit balls. Don’t be surprised to be a bit tired after this drill.


11. Slice Points

1. Start the drill lined up on opposite baselines. The goal is to play the point out with forehand and backhands slices.

2. Focus on a set rally number of 8-10 shots before going for a winner.

What It Works On

Hitting a slice is very important in the game of tennis. A lot of times, this is used as a defensive shot, and it also helps to change up the pace in a long rally. Being able to hit a slice on both sides can really help add some variance to a game.

Slices are very versatile in that they can help push the ball deep into the court, but also drop balls in for winners in that regard. Getting just the right touch on a slice shot is important for any player to progress their game to a new level. Not having this shot is going to hinder any players ability to play defense. It is also going to make a player a bit more predictable if the opponent knows exactly what is coming off of the ground every single time.


12. Two-Shot Tennis

1. One player serves to the other, either in sets of 10 or in the same format as a regular match.

2. The server’s goal is to win the point on either the serve, or off the return.

3. The receiver automatically wins the point if they get the second shot back into play.

What It Works On

This is very similar to serve and volleying, but a player doesn’t necessarily have to move towards the net. Instead of playing a conservative type of tennis, this drill helps players take a few more risks. There might be a lot of errors in the beginning, but the focus should be on building confidence with a very tough second shot.


13. Inside-Out Practice

1. Player’s line up on the side of the court they normally hit backhands on (right-handers would line up on the advantage side).

2. Instead of hitting backhands, the focus is on rallies running around the ball and hitting inside-out forehands.

3. While as many inside-out forehands as possible should be attempted, when not possible, hit a more typical shot.

What It Works On

Having the ability to hit an inside out forehand can provide quite a bit of value on the court. Some players might want to go for a big shot and a possible winner by taking the extra bit of time to run around to hit a forehand. It may not be used that often for some players, but it’s a great tool to have when necessary.

Hitting an inside out forehand also really helps out players who might not have the best footwork. This forces a player to think about their footwork a bit more and work extra hard to get to where they want to be. Indirectly, this drill helps quite a bit with footwork and makes players move around more than ever before.


14. Short Ball Practice

1. One player serves while the other receives.

2. The receiver attempts to hit a drop shot or short ball on the return.

3. Server moves in and tries to end the point quickly on a short ball.

What It Works On

A great first serve is easily spoiled by not having anything to back it up. Short ball practice can allow players to focus on making sure they win those easy points. It also helps with movement, as some players stay a little to still after their initial serve.

When a player sees a short ball in a match, they should be really excited about it. This is a relatively easy ball to handle, as long as a person sticks with the right technique. Those players who struggle with short balls are usually getting a little bit too anxious when they are approaching. Instead of staying calm and driving through the ball, they find it to be a bit more of a challenge.


15. Second Serve Practice

1. One player serves while the other receives.

2. Server only hits second serves.

3. To add scoring to the drill, each missed serve is one point lost. This drives home the importance of accuracy.

What It Works On

A lot of people believe that a tennis player is only as good as their second serve. If a player can hit their second serve in with high accuracy, they have a chance to stay in any match.

To build consistency, sometimes it takes working on the second serve exclusively. Getting in a rhythm is essential for any type of player, and it can lead to quite a bit of success.

This is a chance to hit the second serve with different types of spin as well. Some people focus on hitting balls with a lot of topspin on the serve, but side spin works well for some players as well. The important thing is getting that muscle memory down, because it just becomes second nature to hit a second serve. Once a player has that skill, it is always going to be reliable when the first serve is not clicking.


16. Lob Returns

1. One players serves while the other receives.

2. The receiver is looking to lob the return, much like they would in doubles. 

3. Lobs should be deep and to either corner of the court. 

4. After the initial lob, the rest of the point is played out as usual.

What It Works On

It might not make as much sense in singles as it does in doubles, but this can still be worked on with just two people. Look to lob a ball deep into the court so that a player can’t move in and take the ball out of the air. If the ball is too short, the server will be able to move in and hit a pretty easy overhead.

Remember to focus on hitting the ball over a typical net returner by going over their weak shoulder. For the majority of opponents, that will be lobbing the ball over their left shoulder. This allows for a bit more margin of error, because they won’t be able to take a full swing at it if the ball is not placed exactly where it should be.


17. Drop Ball Practice

1. One player participates in the drill, while the other feeds ball close by.

2. Forehands and backhands are easy to practice, and best done with a basket of balls.

3. Focus is on proper form, knee bend and plow through on shots.

What It Works On

One of the most basic drills two people can work on other than just rallying is to refine each stroke by some simple drop balls. Players are focusing on making sure they have the right form, and also generating their own power. There will be some that use this as a great warm-up, while others will just do this if they feel like their form is slightly off.

Never be afraid to ask for a few of these from a hitting partner from time to time. Chances are, just about any player could benefit from this simple drill on the forehand or backhand. Most players struggle with getting low and driving through the ball, and this hammers it home.


Why Drills Matter

As much fun as it is always to go out and play points or even hit simple rallies, tennis players don’t progress unless they worked on a few things specifically. Drills don’t have to be boring, and they also don’t have to cost a lot of money. Instead of hiring a tennis professional to help out, these are all perfect for people who just have one other person to play with. The best part is, both players can step away from a drill session and feel like they improved their game.

Mix in a few of these drills in the beginning or end of a session to feel a lot more comfortable on the court. Most of these drills mimic real match scenarios, so it will all click once it all comes together in an actual match.

Here is the full list of the best tennis drills right now

  • Crosscourt Forehand
  • Crosscourt Backhand
  • 20-Ball Rally
  • 5 Great Shots
  • Volley-To-Volley
  • Serve & Volley
  • Cone Serving
  • Alley Rallying
  • Three Volley
  • Overhead Practice With Movement
  • Slice Points
  • Two-Shot Tennis
  • Inside-Out Practice
  • Short Ball Practice
  • Second Serve Practice
  • Lob Returns
  • Drop Ball Practice

Fred Simonsson

I'm Fred, the guy behind TennisPredict. Apart from writing here, I play tennis on a semi-professional level and coaches upcoming talents.

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