Over 1000 years later, tennis remains one of the most popular court games. Here’s something you might not know though – that the game of tennis is theorized to have first been played by the monks. They played the game against the monastery’s walls and referred to as “je de paume” meaning the game of the hand. It’s also said that these monks shouted “tenez” every time the ball was served. “Tenez,” in this case, meant “to take,” and it’s clear that the game has since evolved significantly.
Over the years, tennis gained popularity to the extent that King Louis IV and the Pope tried banning it. Still, on the history side of things, it’s important to note that the design of the tennis racquets has changed over the years from the very strange-looking paddle-type thing, into a wooden frame with a string, and finally into the modern version we all know and love.
The tennis balls have also evolved from wooden balls to the vulcanized rubber designed in 1850 by Charles Goodyear to the sophisticated leather-filled balls.
Now that we have the history of the game of tennis covered, how do you win from the start? If you’re new to tennis, you’ll realize that there’s so much you don’t know about the game. And without the basics, you’ll be in the beginner’s category for longer than expected. Since you don’t want to be one of the guys who says “it wasn’t for me,” this article focuses on all the tennis drills you should know about.
Why drills? Learning drills is an important step when learning the basics of tennis, and also for the development of the right techniques. Drills are also essential for the development of consistency and confidence.
Each tennis stroke represents a detailed process of bringing together the right movements for you to win. Practicing the strokes is important if you want to perfect the game.
So, which are the basic drills you must learn?
Here are the 10 Tennis Drills for Beginners
1. Running lines
Running the lines drill is important for two reasons – it warms you up while teaching you the tennis lines’ names. Coaches often change the lines of the game from the single lines to the double lines. Knowing how to run the lines is also important because the warming up runs to keep the blood flowing.
How to run the lines
Jog towards the net, backpedal to that baseline, then sidestep to your left towards the sideline, and the jog back towards the net. Then backpedal towards the baseline and then, sidestep to your right, jog back towards the net, and finally backpedal all the way to the court’s baseline.
2. The frying pan
The frying pan is yet another important drill for beginners. It’s helpful for eye-hand coordination. While experienced players often overlook this drill, it’s fundamental to the success of the players.
For the Frying Pan, you need to hold your racquet in your dominant hand – the same way you would hold a frying pan. Then place the ball right on the racquet’s face and then slowly start moving the racquet upwards and downwards allowing the effortless bouncing of the ball.
Once the tennis ball starts bouncing, see the number of bounces you can make. You could also compete with other players to test your potential to bounce the tennis ball.
Having mastered this, try a variation involving turning the racquet at 180 degrees in between the bounces.
Besides enhancing your hand-eye coordination, the frying pan allows you to familiarize yourself with the tennis racquet’s feel.
3. The Dribble
The dribble is the other important tennis drill. It’s an upside-down version of the frying pan. For the dribble, you have to hold the racquet in your dominant hand with the tennis ball in your other hand.
Next, drop the ball in front then hit it towards the ground. When you do this, the ball will move towards the ground then bounce up. Continue hitting the ball until you get a consistent dribble.
With time, you can change the speed and difficulty level.
4. Backhands and Forehands
For this move, one player should be at the end of the tennis court and positioned at the service line’s center. This player can take the backhand or the forehand stance.
In this drill, the coach remains standing off the center and in front towards the side holding the balls. The coach will toss the ball, one after the other, allowing the ball to bounce before you at the waist height for the player to hit the right stroke.
Once the basket of balls is hit, and after counting the number of balls that have gone over the net, the coach will switch to the other side then the player will change the stroke. You’ll have to keep track of the number of balls going above the net.
5. Side to side drills
For this, the coach stands on the net’s other side then calls out the players to know if the players play backhand or forehand. Here, the player’s quick reaction is important and they must move into the right position to play. The coach ensures that the players’ racquet goes up high, just in time for the shot. In a variation of the game, the coach might not inform the player about the shot to take.
6. Ball Toss
A ball toss doesn’t sound like something you need a drill for, but if you wish to succeed in tennis, you should consider learning the ball toss drill. For this drill, the player stands at the center of the courtyard’s service line. The coach will stand off on the side, then toss the ball short to the player. You will have to run towards the tennis ball then hit the shot, and run back to the line before they hit the next shot. For this drill, players have to make excellent contact with the tennis ball, while maintaining their footing.
7. Hit & Catch
This tennis drill is excellent for beginners and even kids. It involves having the student stand at the service line’s center, waiting for the forehand.
For hit & catch, you have to stand at the service line’s center, halfway between the service line and the net, a few balls in your hand and in the pocket. The coach will toss the tennis ball right to the player forehand, and the player has to hit back the ball off the cone for the coach to catch it. The variation of this drill involves the coach not telling the player about where they’ll throw the tennis ball.
8. Service Toss Accuracy
If you’re learning to play tennis, then you must learn how to serve the toss with accuracy. You must develop a powerful toss. So, with your basket of tennis balls, head out to the service line on the courtyard’s side. Next, position yourself as if you’re getting ready to serve right into the deuce court, and also right and behind the service line’s center.
To make serving the ball a less daunting idea, you have to serve at the service line. Also, the player should be standing in the closed stance with the bottom of the basket sitting on the ground, ahead of him. This position gives you a smooth movement for a clean release.
9. Toss and Block Volley
This tennis drill involves the use of volleys, and every player holds the racquet as you would if you’re holding the hammer. As the player, you must be at the tennis court’s end. The coach stands on the opposite side of the service line. The coach will toss the ball right above the net with the player keeping the racquet on the side of the player, before hitting the ball. Note that the shot is a stop and block shot, and not a swing.
10. Split-Step Shots
This drill starts off with the player at the center of the tennis court’s service line. In this drill, the players’ knees are bent slightly getting the player ready for backhands and forehands. And to punch the ball forward, the player has to step forward on their opposite foot, then hit the ball. Once mastered the forehand, repeat in the backhand.