They will help you learn the basics, develop proper techniques and improve consistency. Tennis, like most sports, involves the coordination of several movements.
This is why we can help players learn proper techniques and break down complex movements into independent movements. Don’t be afraid to start jumping to groundstrokes at the baseline either you are a beginner. You will soon see them frustrated and flailing.
It’s important to create anticipation and get the blood flowing before your students hit the court. Teaching players how to control the lines on the tennis court is a great way to accomplish this. My article on running the lines in tennis covers the entire drill.
This drill is great for two reasons. It helps to get the player loose and warm, but it also allows you to point out the lines on the court. This will be useful throughout the drills.
It can be very beneficial for a beginner to learn the basics of tennis. Even though most players have been playing for a while, they take hand-eye coordination for granted. However, any player must be able to play well.
While the dribble is a simple drill, it can help your player improve their hand-eye coordination. It also helps them feel the tennis racquet and develop a sense of touch when touching the tennis ball.
Your player should hold their racquet face-up. Next, they should slowly move the head of their racquet upwards and downwards until it bounces on their strings. When it begins to bounce, let them continue to keep it going as long as they can.
This drill is easy for some players, particularly those who have mastered hand-eye coordination from other sports. You can identify your basic skill level by watching how your student does this drill.
The next drill is an upside-down version of the frying pan. First, Your player should have to hold the racquet in one hand and the tennis ball in the other. Next, they should drop the ball in front and hit the ground with the racquet. They should see the ball move towards the ground, bounce back up and continue to hit until they have a good rhythm.
Depending on the type of tennis racquet they use, it may be beneficial for your player to chomp down a little on the handle. This will make the drill less painful on their wrists and forearms.
To ensure that they keep the ball moving, encourage your player to move as the ball moves. To make it fun, have them continue the dribble for as long as possible and keep track of how many seconds they take. You can change the difficulty by having them begin at a slow pace, then increase their speed, and then gradually decrease to a slower dribble.
Simple Forehands and Backhands
If you practice the drills often, your player will develop hand-eye coordination slowly. They are easy to practice anywhere, so encourage your player to practice them at home. Next, position your player on the court in the middle of the service line.
This is where the center line and the service line connect. Your player can position themselves to either forehand or backhand.
The player holding the basket of balls should be positioned slightly in front of you and about 4-6 feet away from you. It is a good idea to show the players the different grips before they begin the drill.
No one grip works perfectly, but understanding the differences between the grips can help encourage your players to try a certain style. Next, show them how you want them to hit the forehand. To keep it simple, I usually avoid mentioning the backswing at this point and have the student begin their racquet at around waist height. Strong follow-through will be my main focus.
Once they are ready, have one tennis ball thrown in front of them, at about waist height. Then, let them hit their groundstroke. Start with the forehand and switch sides. Then, show the next stroke, proper grip and toss another basket. This drill takes the hard work out of groundstrokes.
It would be best if you did the following when you hit groundstrokes:
- Move your feet
- Your eyes can track your opponent
- A split step
- Judge ball speed, spin, and depth
- You can move forward or backwards depending on whether you want to contact the ball at the ideal height.
Ball Toss Forehands & Backhands
Next, we will take the forehands/backhands drill and add a ball toss. This will force your students to focus on timing, ball speed and movement. You and your students will feel like you are playing tennis.
Take your basket of balls and move to the side of the court. Then, stand on the middle service line about 2 to 3 feet away from the net. Your students should stand in the middle of the service line, ready to play a backhand or forehand.
This variation involves gently tossing a tennis ball towards the player so that it bounces in their face about waist-high. This may seem like the previous drill. But, the difference is crucial for the player. The ball was not moving in the previous drill and bounced in front of the player. This drill forces the players to assess the ball’s speed and adjust their footing slowly to ensure contact with the tennis ball.
Side to side Forehands & Backhands
Once our student has gained some confidence, we can continue the drill with a slight twist. Instead of tossing the ball directly to the student’s forehand/backhand, we can ask them to start in the prepared position and alternate between tossing the balls to their forehand/backhand.
I will often discuss the importance of keeping the racquet in a ready position, so they are prepared when I throw the ball. The split step is not something I will usually do.
You should now be able to assess whether the player is comfortable with the strokes. You can choose to keep the drill going or to take a break to allow them to practice the other drills until they feel more confident. It is important to challenge your students.
You can make it more challenging if your student excels at this drill by not telling them whether they’re going for a backhand or a forehand. Many beginner tennis players find it difficult, but they will be able to do this if they can move their feet and adjust to the correct grip.
Hit and Catch
We’ll change things up in the next tennis drill. This is great for kids and beginners. This drill will require you to have a cone handy. Your students should be ready at the center of the service line, waiting for a forehand.
You will need to stand on the middle service line with a few balls in hand and the cone in one’s hands. My goal with the drills is to get the player comfortable on the court and to teach them the basics.
After your student has become comfortable with the drills, you can use this drill to push them further. Ask them to direct their shots. Once you are both ready, you will want to toss your ball into your student’s hands and ask them to hit it back at you.
The cone isn’t anything special but adds a little novelty to the drill. It is also slightly harder to catch the ball than to use their hands. You can repeat this for their backhand and ask them if they want to swap positions with you.
The player should now throw the ball at you, and the catch should follow.
Forehands & Backhands
New players face the greatest challenge of judging the speed and distance of a tennis ball. This is something that experienced players have taken for granted. This drill will challenge the student to improve their sense of speed and depth with the tennis ball. They’d also experience a live rally.
Take your basket of balls and move to the side of the court. Then, stand on the middle service line, approximately 2 to 3 feet away from the net. Your player should stand in the middle of the service line, ready to play a backhand or forehand. This drill requires that you start by giving them a ball that isn’t too difficult to hit.
Serve Toss Accuracy
A great toss is a key component of learning how to serve. It can be very beneficial to begin teaching a beginner or a young student with a toss.
Take a basket of balls and head to the service lines on the opposite side of the court. Next, place your student on the service line to either the left or right of the center service line.
To make hitting a serve easier, we will have the player start at the service line instead of the baseline.
Next, stand in a closed position with the student and place the basket’s bottom on the ground in front at approximately 2 o’clock for right-handed students or 10 o’clock for left-handed.
Once the player is in position, show them how to toss the ball properly. This includes tossing from the shoulder and keeping a smooth motion. Also, show them how to hold the ball to ensure a smooth release.
Simple Service Motions
Once the player can feel their toss, it’s time to move on to this drill that will help them to master a service motion. The drill doesn’t require the player to use their racquet so they can place the ball on the side.
The court position should be the same as in the previous drill. Have the player hold the ball with their dominant hand. This drill will break down the service motion into three phases or positions.
Begin by having them move from one position to another, pause, and move on to the next. After each student has mastered the basics, they can link the movements together. Finally, they should incorporate the third position in which they lower their tossing arms, twist their bodies, and then extend their dominant arms until they are fully extended.
At that point, they can release the ball into their service box. You can ask them to repeat the service motion so you can give feedback and watch their form. This drill will help players make the service easier and more concrete.
Block and toss volleyballs
This drill will introduce students to volleys. Volleys, in their most basic form, are the act of catching the ball up before it bounces off the court and blocking it from returning to the opposing side. Volleys in practice can be complex and involve many movements.
We’ll start by making them feel comfortable on the net. Begin by making sure your player uses a continental grip. This means that the player holds their tennis racquet like a hammer.
Your student should stand at the service line in the middle, about 3 to 4 feet from the net. You can stand on the other side of the court or just a few feet away from the net. Before you toss any balls, review the basics of forehand volleyball. With their racquet at eye level and their knees bent, have them take their starting position.
Next, let them open their hands and move their other foot across their body. Keep their racquet in front of them to hit the ball. They shouldn’t swing at the volleys as this is an easy mistake for beginners. Once they feel comfortable with the movement, let them hit a series of forehands and then do the same for their backhand.
Some players find the backhand difficult and even painful for their arms. If their arm isn’t strong enough, encourage them to use two hands to help support the racquet.
Split Step Volleys
This drill will introduce students to the split step. It will help them to gain balance before hitting a volleyball. They can quickly move in the right direction to hit a backhand or forehand volley.
The drill will require you to position yourself the same as before. This time, however, your player will start in the middle. Explain the importance of the split step about volleys. Next, have them demonstrate how to do a split step standing up and repeat it several times.
Next, move forward in a couple of steps. Then, bend your knees slightly to go forward into a forehand/backhand. Once your students feel comfortable with the concept, you can have them return to the service line. You’ll be helping them learn many new skills, so it’s a good idea to practice only your forehand and backhand.
Take them a few steps forward, then shout “split” and toss it to their forehand. They should take the ball and step forward with the opposite foot to punch it. Your students should repeat the process for their backhand. You can make the drill more difficult if they are comfortable with it.
This is just one set of drills for beginners in tennis, but many other great drills can be used to help players get started. You may modify the drills depending on your player’s skill level and your student’s ability to do them. This will keep your student interested but not overwhelmed, leading to burnout.
It’s important to maintain a high energy level and encourage your students. This will help you keep your students engaged and excited. It’s also important to assess your player during every drill and adjust the drills based on their ability to pick things up quickly.