Tennis and golf are among the most popular individual sports of all. They have several characteristics in common – they can be played until an advanced age, they are both very social sports, and they can be played with only a few players. These characteristics appeal to athletes of all ages, and they are the reason why so many people adopt these sports as their favorite hobbies.
When we compare golf and tennis, one of the advantages of golf is that golfers can practice more easily than tennis players in their own backyards, and some people will even work on putting in their living room. On the other hand, what can tennis players do inside their homes safely that will help their game?
If you’re wondering how to practice tennis at home, there are a lot of ways you can do so. You can practice specific areas you tend to neglect – footwork, volleys, hand-eye-coordination, mental game, and even your serve. Practicing these skills at home will help you transfer them to the tennis court and improve your overall game.
If you’re hungry to improve and you don’t want to waste an opportunity to get better, this article will be a good fit for you. Below, we will cover some of the most popular (and effective) ways to practice tennis at home.
Work On Your Volleys At Home
Before you read any further, we want to point out something very important: you may not want to use a regular tennis ball for the following drill, because you may end up breaking something – and if that happens you may need to say goodbye to your at-home tennis practices. A good alternative to a regular tennis ball is going to be a foam ball because the risk of breaking anything in your house goes down significantly.
Now that we got that out of the way, we’ll cover one exercise you can do at home to help your tennis indoors whether it’s on a rainy day or during the winter months when it’s hard to get into our court time. Since your space for practicing will usually be limited, we suggest that you stick to practicing your volleys – as they require very little space.
All you need to do is find a sturdy wall in your home, get your racket and foam ball, and get to work. Our favorite 1-player volley drills are the Wall Ball 1 and the Wall Ball 2 (follow the links for detailed instructions). These drills are excellent for developing fast reflexes and volley consistency and control, and practicing with a foam ball will have very similar results to practicing them with a regular ball. These drills are great for players for all levels, and working on them will ensure you’re improving your tennis game even during rainy days.
If you want to exercise something else, here are a few other things you can work on.
One of the most powerful tools you can use for your tennis game is visualization. And most importantly, you can work on it from your living room or bedroom. Since your mind – physiologically speaking – cannot tell the difference between what is “real” and what is vividly imagined, you can use visualization to improve your game.
So during rainy days, you can work on visualizing a tennis match. You should try to do so in a quiet environment, and you should focus on shots you want to hit, moments of the game you need to work on (like serving out a match), and emotions you feel through the game. By visualizing these skills, you will be able to transfer them to the tennis court later on.
Tennis very much depends on the dexterity of your hands in relation to the acuity of your eye. The hand-eye coordination drills you’ll learn in the video below will help sharpen that connection.
Even though the 3 drills mentioned above are a good starting point, there are so many variations you can practice when you are at home.
Movement dictates everything in tennis. Practicing your footwork with an agility ladder will make you faster, lighter on your feet and ultimately allow you to get to more balls. The video below shows a few footwork exercises you can work on when you’re at home.
Billy Jean King’s Eye Coach
Finally, what does the majority of tennis players have in common? We take our eyes off the ball. Even some of the pros do this – it’s human nature. As soon as the ball leaves our strings, we want to see how good of a shot we just hit, and we want to start to see our opponent scrambling to try and get to it. It’s hardwired into us. The problem is that when we pull our head off the ball, our balance suffers and it becomes this domino effect that leads to the dreaded shank.
One of the best things you can do at home to improve your tennis game is to use the Billy Jean King’s Eye Coach tool. This machine literally eliminates the distraction mentioned earlier. The ball is going to stay right where it is, which allows you to really dial in all of the technical stuff that you want to work on.
Because if you think about it, there’s literally only one moment in time in which we can influence where the ball goes – and that’s at contact. What this machine does is it allows you to feel the difference between solid contact (hitting the sweet spot) and a careless, lazy shank where the ball flies over the fence.
At the end of the day, the last 3 feet when approaching a shot are what matters. As the ball is approaching the contact zone, that’s where we either hit a stinging forehand that hurts our opponent, or a ball floats harmlessly over the net and is crushed past you for a winner.
Now yes, when you rally or play, the ball is traveling at you from a further distance, but once you can feel what it means to hit a perfect forehand on this machine, you will have developed great muscle memory. It becomes significantly easier to recreate that shot in a live setting.
What this machine is really really good at is letting you feel the difference between a cleanly hit ball on time and a ball that is off the sweet spot – and you and I both know that the sweet spot really matters.
The drills mentioned above will help you get better, and there are so many more drills you can come up with that you can work on at home. As long as you have the will power, you can get better in any environment – whether that’s the gym, the court, or your own home. The best players have that kind of hunger, and they are willing to get better no matter how.
Stay tuned for more drills and exercises you can work on at home, as we will be publishing more of them soon!