Tennis by its very nature is a 2 (or 4-person) sport.
That makes practicing on your own fairly difficult. To make matters worse, the world has gone a bit crazy the last couple of years, which has only increased the need to train on your own.
Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place, as we’re going to show you how to practice tennis alone.
We’ll share some useful ways you can train by yourself, as well as several drills you can practice when you next train solo.
Let’s get to it.
How to Practice Tennis Alone
1. Work on Your Fitness
First things first, tennis is undeniably a physically demanding sport.
Matches can be a long, grueling affair, so it’s always a good idea to have your body in the right shape to both cope and excel in these situations.
Not only do you need to have good cardiovascular endurance, but you also need to be quick and explosive to make it round the court in time to return those wide shots down the line.
Considering this, there are several different aspects of your fitness that you can work on, most notably, your endurance, speed, balance, and flexibility.
So, what kind of training can we do on our own, that will benefit our fitness in a way that will translate into our ability on the court?
- Cardiovascular training – running, biking, rowing.
- Speed – sprints, hill sprints, and weighted sprints.
- Muscular endurance training – bodyweight exercises such as press-ups, sit-ups, plank, tricep dips, squats, and lunges.
- Yoga – great for balance and muscular endurance.
When all is said and done, any kind of physical activity is not only going to help aid your ability to play tennis but offers a ton of both physical and mental benefits.
2. Try Out a Ball Machine
There’s nothing like good old fashion technology to get you training on the court.
A tennis ball machine is an awesome tool that can allow you to practice for hours on end, without needing a training partner.
Some of the top-end models come with a ton of customizability, which can allow you to work on specific areas of your game – they can lob, drop shot, hit with spin, and alternate between each type of shot.
There are a few downsides to using a tennis ball machine though. Firstly, they’re pretty expensive, with some of the better models selling for around $1000.
Secondly, is cleaning up. I’d recommend getting yourself a tennis ball hopper, as it’ll make collecting the balls a ton easier.
I would also recommend checking out our article on different tennis ball machine drills you can try out when you’re practicing on your own.
3. Make use of a Wall/ Rebounder
Sometimes, there’s no need for technology or even a training partner. Finding a wall can offer a pretty good training experience in itself.
Yes, it’s limited, but continuously hitting a tennis ball against the wall can help develop your timing and hand-eye coordination.
A handy tip is to place a bit of masking tape 3ft high along the wall (the same height as a tennis net). This will help create a bit of visualization and at least allow you to know whether or not your shots would be hitting the net. Just be sure to take the masking tape off when you’re done.
4. Work on Your Footwork
Footwork is an integral part of tennis.
At the end of the day, how many pros do you see tripping over their own feet on the court? Watch Nadal, or Federer, or any pro on the ATP Tour, and they’ll move around with balance and speed.
There are several drills that you can do on your own that translate perfectly to moving around the tennis court, which we’ll share in just a second.
All you ready need is a good amount of space to run around, however, having some cones or some kind of markers allows you to do some more intricate drills.
Solo Tennis Drills for Footwork:
The following drills will require some kind of markers on the floor, such as cones, tennis balls, or any other item you want to use.
Drill 1: Figure of 8
- Set up 2 cones approximately six feet apart
- Sidestep in a figure of 8 around the cones, making sure you’re on the ball of your feet.
- Continue the figure of 8 movement for 30 seconds.
- Rest for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
You can repeat this drill as many times as you like to suit your endurance level.
Drill 2: Triangle Forehand & Backhand
- Set up 3 cones in a triangle, approximately six feet apart.
- Start in the middle triangle
- Run to the right cone, shadow stroke either a forehand or backhand depending if you’re right-handed or left-handed
- Run back to the middle cone
- Run to the left cone, shadow stroke either a forehand or backhand depending if you’re right or left-handed
- Repeat this 5 times
- Take a break
Again, repeat this drill as many times as you like, however, I find 5 times to be a good number.
Drill 3: Side to Side, Forward & Backward
This drill is easier to do on a tennis court, as you’ll have a visual line that you can use. That said, it’s not completely necessary, so don’t worry if you want to do this drill at home, it’s still possible.
- Set up 2 cones next to each other, around eight feet apart. Ideally, place two the cones on the same line of a tennis court, the baseline for example.
- Using the ball of your feet, shuffle back and forth over the baseline whilst moving to the right cone.
- Again, using the ball of your feet, shuffle back and forth over the baseline whilst moving towards the left cone.
- Repeat this for 20 seconds.
As always, repeat this drill as many times as you like, however, 3 sets tend to be a good amount.
5. Practice Your Serve
Being a confident server is incredibly important. It sets the tone for not just that point, but the entire match.
Setting an hour or two aside to focus solely on your serve is a great way to help iron out any kinks you may have. Perhaps your serves to the body are a weak aspect of your game? Then focus on landing your serve dead center in the service box.
Alternate your serves between wide, to the body, and down the middle. The beauty is that you’re in control of your training.
Again, I’d recommend getting yourself a hopper for this, as it’ll save a good amount of time (and your back) picking up a ton of tennis balls.
Solo Tennis Drills for Serving
As you’d expect, the following drills require no training partner at all and can be done on your own.
Drill 1: Ball Toss Practice
- Throw the ball above your head with your non-racket holding hand
- Keep your hand in the same position as when you released the ball
- Catch the ball in that hand, without moving your arm or hand to catch it.
Drill 2: Making Contact
The goal of this drill is to hit the ball at the peak of its height after the ball toss. This drill is designed to develop your timing and get a feel for when the ball is ready to be hit.
- Throw the ball above your head with your non-racket-holding hand.
- When the ball is at its highest point, swing with the racket and make contact with the ball.
Drill 3: The Second Serve Game
This is a fun game I like to play when I’m training on my own.
The idea is to pretend that you’re always on your second serve, and see how many serves in a row you can land inside the service box.
If you fail, then start again from 0.
The goal here is to get used to serving under pressure and become familiar with serving knowing that if you miss, you’re going to lose in some form.
6. Use Shadow Swings
If you’ve ever watched a Rocky movie, you’ll be familiar with shadow boxing. This is the same thing, however with tennis.
Shadow strokes allow you to connect mentally with your movement and technique, focusing solely on positioning yourself correctly for the best contact and placement of the ball.
Admittedly, you’re not going to become the next Nadal solely by implementing shadow strokes into your training. However, you will find that it allows you to have a better feel for the correct technique, as well as instill the movement into your muscle memory.
I finding shadow stroking a great way to warm up and get me in the ‘zone’ for training. You can alternate between forehands and backhands, and I’m sure you’ll be surprised by how much looser and fluid your technique feels when on the court.
If you’re wanting to practise tennis at home, you can always do this in front of a mirror. This will allow you to see your technique, and visually pick up on any faults that you’re making.
7. Warm Up with Keepy Uppys
Much like shadow strokes, hitting the ball up and down with your racket isn’t going to magically turn you into a professional tennis player.
It does however offer a great warm-up, especially for beginners who are still struggling to hit the ball with the sweet spot of the racket.
8. Watch Instructional Videos Online
The internet has a plethora of useful information online, perfect for learning tennis alone. I’ll list a couple of great YouTube channels below that offer a ton of useful tips and guides for beginners to advanced players.
- Essential Tennis – Great instructional videos for a variety of skill levels.
- Feel Tennis – Some fantastic technique videos here.
- Tennis Warehouse – more of a focus on tennis gear, but they do have some great instructional videos as well. Definitely worth a binge.
- Play Your Court – these guys are great. I love their strategy guides and definitely recommend giving them a watch.
A little tip here. It’s all well and good watching these videos but be sure to implement what you learn. I’m often doing this myself, not just with tennis. I’ll watch a video on something, think it’s great, but not implement what I learn.
Be sure to use what you learn when you next practice, especially if you’re training on your own – there’s no one to be embarrassed in front of!
9. Work on Your Mental Game
As with any sport, tennis is as much a mental game as it is a physical one.
You can be ahead one minute, then 2 games down the next. Being able to cope with this and overcome these situations is just as important as knowing how to execute a drop shot.
With that in mind, there’s a couple of approaches you can take:
- Gain a better understanding of sport psychology – This will help massively in coping under pressure during a match.
- Learn up some new tennis strategies – Knowing various tennis strategies and tactics is not only good for improving your game but reading and anticipating what your opponent is going to do next.
Although tennis is a two-person sport, it doesn’t need to be when it comes to training.
While there is no replacing a training partner completely, implementing some of the drills and tips mentioned above will help supplement your regular training when there’s no one to practice with.
Hopefully, you’ve got a better understanding and some actionable advice on how to practice tennis alone.
If you’ve got any questions, please feel free to get in touch via the contact form below.
Thanks for stopping by.