We’ve all had to learn what it’s like to be away from the tennis court for an extended period of time in 2020. Our quest for never-ending improvement on the tennis court has been halted, but there are still ways you can practice tennis alone and improve your game without a tennis court.
We constantly get asked questions about how to practice tennis alone, so we thought we’d write an article on it at this poignant time of lockdown.
The answer is, there are always ways to improve your game when you’re away from the court and even when you don’t have access to a racket or ball. The reason is, tennis is one of the most mentally challenging sports out there, and you always have the ability to improve the mental and tactical sides of your game no matter where you are.
Here are some of our favorite ways to improve your tennis, even when you don’t have a partner and don’t have access to a tennis court.
Improve the Mental Side of Your Game
So much of tennis is played in our heads. The unique scoring system of tennis means that no matter what the score is, you’ve always got the potential to win, and you’ve always got the potential to lose. However, the nature of the game puts lots of mental pressure on us, and it’s those players that can handle their emotions the best that normally excel.
There’s lots of great literature out there about the mental side of the game, one of which is Sports Psychology Tennis, which gives you a great basis to improve your game from.
You don’t need to be on the court to learn the techniques that can help you win more tennis matches, you’ve just got to be focussed and work on strategies to improve your performance. While your opponents are spending their time away from the court kicking back and relaxing, you can be practicing your tennis alone by brushing up on the mental side of your game.
Start small today and learn how to approach pressure points!
Take Your Tactics to the Next Level
Tactics can make a massive difference to your results and you don’t have to be anywhere near the court to learn them.
Tennis is a sport of fine margins – it’s eminently possible to lose a match despite winning more points than your opponent, which means tiny changes can make a big difference to the outcome of a game. Stacking the statistics in your favor by using the right tactics in any given situation is one of those small changes you can make that will have a huge impact on the result.
You don’t have to be on a tennis court to learn which serves give you the best probability of winning the point, or where you should place the first volley to give you the best statistical chance of winning the point.
All of these things can be learned from the comfort of your home, and allow you to make a huge difference to your game without touching the tennis court.
As we mentioned, tennis is played in our heads, so we can practice alone by brushing up on our tactical approach to the game.
When I was training at Sanchez Casal Academy I absolutely hated it when it rained because it meant one thing – shadow strokes. You would see a hundred out people out on the courts shadow stroking away and as a kid, that’s not your idea of fun.
However, those players with better mentalities than myself recognized this was just another opportunity to practice their tennis and make improvements.
Shadow strokes are a great way to practice your tennis alone and give you the opportunity to get a better feel for your swings and footwork. When you involve the ball in the shot it becomes much more complicated, making it more difficult to focus on doing everything right.
When you take the ball out though, it allows you to focus on making the right steps toward the imaginary ball, getting into position and swinging through with good technique. It’s clearly not the same as hitting the ball, but it can be of great benefit and can keep you sharp even when you don’t have access to a court.
You Don’t Need a Partner to Practice Your Serve
The serve plays an overweighted part in the destination of where the point goes because it is the first shot of the rally. It offers the server the opportunity to take control of the point and this advantage more often than not results in a hold.
Despite this, we tend to be much more focussed on practicing our groundstrokes and this often comes at the expense of the serve. If you have access to a court, but don’t have a partner, then this is the ideal time to practice your serve though.
Grab a bucket of balls and just spend your time hitting serves.
However, one of the important things is that you don’t just randomly hit serves. Structure your practice by mixing up between first and second serves and giving yourself targets to hit. A great way to replicate a real game is by alternating between first and second serves and including a “punishment” (say 20 push-ups) if you double fault.
If you can make solid improvements on your serve, then it can make a massive difference to your game. The serve tends not to get enough practice, so not having a partner to play with might just be a blessing!
Grab a Ball Machine
Ball machines can be a good way of getting some practice in if you don’t have someone to play with. With the top ball machines, you have lots of different settings to help replicate real play, and this can be good to practice your strokes in a low-pressure environment.
Just like with the shadow strokes, sometimes it’s good to be able to practice without the pressure of an opponent at the other side of the net and that’s exactly what a ball machine allows you to do.
Focus on getting your footwork right, and really zoning in on the swing and making sure you’re practicing good technique.
Hit Against a Wall
You don’t need a court or a ball machine to feel ball on racket, and a simple wall gives you the opportunity to practice your tennis on your own.
It might not perfectly emulate a shot coming from an opponent, but it’s more than adequate to practics a few swings. Again, the great thing about this is that it allows you to practice your technique and your positioning without any pressure and it doesn’t matter if you get it wrong.
Relax, hit a few balls, and get used to the feeling of the ball on the strings again.
You Can Always Improve Your Fitness
There are so many facets to tennis and another important one is fitness. Being fitter than your opponent can give you the edge in a tight match and you don’t need to be anywhere near a tennis court to practice it.
There are lots of different courses you can find with specific exercises to improve your tennis, but there are also plenty of basic fitness exercises you can do at home. Tennis is a combination of good cardio, strength, speed, flexibility, and balance, so make sure you’re keeping fit, so that you can dominate next time you’re on the court.
Article by: Will