When I teach lessons, people often ask me about practice methods they can do at home, especially when they don’t have a partner to play with. It may seem like there’s not much you can do to improve your tennis game if you don’t have a hitting partner at home, but the truth is that there’s a lot that you can do to build your tennis skills and improve your overall fitness (which will definitely contribute to increased performance).
A great thing to practice at home is your serve toss, which is a small but essential part of your game. Think of it this way: your serve could either be 1) something that costs you point after point in a match, 2) just another stroke used to put the ball in motion, or 3) one of your best weapons against your opponent. In order for your serve to become a true weapon, it has to become effective and consistently reliable.
You can find a lot of different serve toss drills on YouTube that will help you hone various parts of the toss, and most of them are drills you can do by yourself. Here’s an example of a drill you could do: start by taking your serve stance and then placing your racket on the ground in front of the forward foot. Do your toss and let the ball fall naturally. The goal is to consistently get the ball to land on the strings of your racket. To help measure your improvement, keep a running tally in your head of how many tosses in a row hit the racket face.
Egg in the Frying Pan
Another drill you can do at home is Egg in the Frying Pan. There are a lot of variations that can be done with this drill, and the basic goal is to increase hand-eye coordination. If you’re experienced with sports, this drill might feel very basic, but if you’re a beginner or if it’s been a while, it’ll be great for you. In this variation, hold your racket in your dominant hand (like a frying pan) and put a ball (an egg) on the strings. Gently start to move the racket up and down so that the ball begins to bounce. Try to keep the ball bouncing as long as you can. It might be fun to have a clock so you can see yourself improve as you repeat the drill.
If you’d like a hitting partner, look no further than your local backboard or concrete wall (the side of a brick or stucco house might work too!). Practice hitting balls and keeping them going with a backboard-type wall, and that’s a hitting partner that will never get tired or annoyed with you for missing a lot of shots. Keep a mental tally of how many hits you can make before you miss one and keep on trying to beat that number.
These are just a few tips for practicing tennis on your own without a lot of fancy equipment, in fact you can do most all of them at home in your garage or driveway (or even at a local park). I’ll be doing more posts soon about how to improve your game at home, so stay tuned!
– Coach Strauss