Improve Tennis Speed
Make no mistake about it, if you’re going to be a good tennis player you better have a solid game. You need good strokes, to learn the strategy behind hitting certain strokes at correct time, a serve that is a weapon not a detriment, the ability to finish points at the net, and the ability to return serve. Yet, if you have great tennis speed, all your skills get even better. You now become a different kind of threat to your opponent.
If your opponent knows they must hit the perfect winner to hit the ball by you, you will win many points due to unforced errors. You can play head games on your opponent by just being fast!
So, how do you get faster on the tennis court? The first thing you must understand is what type of speed is needed to become faster on the court. Even though you need short bursts and change of direction quickness you can still benefit from training sprinting. Sprinting improves ground reaction force, stiffness of feet and ankles, and is considered one of the best forms of plyometric exercise you can perform- plus a host of other coordinative factors. So even though a tennis player doesn’t sprint 30-40 meters in one straight run- they can greatly benefit from it. For this article though, we will focus on the short quick multi-direction speed.
Tennis Straight Ahead Speed
Listed here are some great drills to improve the specific straight-ahead speed of a tennis player. Straight ahead speed is important when chasing after short shots or drops shots.
- Active Athletic Stance (bouncing on the balls of your feet) and sprint 10 yards on the toss of the ball– The coach or partner will lob a ball in front of them cuing the athlete to come out of their active athletic stance and chase the ball down before it bounces twice. Perform 3-4 sets with a 30 second recovery.
- Lateral Shuffle to Straight Ahead Sprint– The athlete will shuffle from the right side toward the left bouncing on the balls of the feet, when the coach or partner drops the ball from about 5-6 yards away the athlete will accelerate quickly to catch the ball before the second bounce. Perform 3-4 sets on each side with a 30 second recovery.
- Wide Angle Ground Stroke Return and Sprint– Mimic a wide ground stoke as if it were outside the doubles alley and immediately follow it with a 10-yard sprint toward the opposite corner. Perform 3-4 sets on each side with a 30 second recovery.
Tennis Lateral Speed
The following program will develop lateral speed in tennis. This is important when shuffling sideways or using the lateral run to cover greater distance laterally.
- Alley Shuffles- The athlete will stand in the middle of the doubles alley in an athletic stance (return of serve stance). The coach or partner will point to the right or left and the athlete must shuffle quickly with both feet moving outside of the lines and recover back to the middle waiting for the next direction. Perform for 3-5 sets 7 to 10 seconds with a 30 to 45 second recovery.
- Lateral Run Drill- The athlete will start in an active athletic stance in the middle of the court at the baseline. The coach or partner will point to the right or left, and the athlete must perform lateral run steps to the alley and back. Once the athlete gets back to the center of the court, they are active and ready for the next direction. Perform 2-4 sets of 2-3 reps with a 45-one minute recovery.
- Lateral Shuffle to Lateral Run Drill- This drill is set up just like the lateral run drill. The coach or partner will point to the right or left, the athlete must laterally run out to the alley and shuffle back to the middle. Follow the same set, rep, and recovery as the crossover drill.
Tennis Recovery Speed
Many times, the tennis player will be at the net and have to recover back for a lob shot. The ability to accelerate back is vital to get to the shot.
- Hip Turn and Sprint- The athlete will perform a Hip Turn (quick rotation of the hips and feet) in order to apply quick force into the ground and accelerate. The coach or partner will point to the right or left and the athlete must turn in that direction and sprint for 10 yards straight back. Perform 3-4 reps on each side with a 30 to 45 second recovery.
- Hip Turn and Lateral Run Step on an Angle- The athlete will be standing in front of the net with the coach or partner on the other side pointing to the right or left. The athlete will perform a quick hip turn and lateral run steps on an angle to the alley. This resembles going after a short overhead. Perform 3-4 sets on each side with a 30 second recovery.
- Split Step and Recovery- The athlete will perform a split step going into the net, when the coach or partner points to the right or left the athlete must perform a hip turn and sprint to the base line. The coach will point to the right wide or over head or left wide or over head. The athlete must run either to the corner of the baseline or to the center of the court. Perform 2-3 sets on each side with a 45 second recovery.
This is a great workout to improve the multi-directional needs of a tennis player. The ability to escape the current space they are in and attack a new space is critical to being FAST on the tennis court.
Enjoy these drills and be sure to check out CTSS.co and be first in line to get information on my NEW Certified Tennis Speed Specialist course…coming Fall 2020!