Quality Drills for Intermediate Hitting Partners - Part 2
If you have a hitting partner or someone to practice with and want some variety and direction, try the 3 drills following.
Lets get straight into it.
First up if you missed Part 1 check out the Hitting Partner Drills click here.
Lets get straight into it.
Tennis Drill 1 - Figure 8's
This drill is one of my favourites to do but also to watch how players hangle it. Figure 8's teaches recovery, timing, shot selection, fitness, and brutal toughness to just keep going and retrieve one more ball! The drill is very difficult to do well and takes a lot of practice. Your heart rate will shoot up within a couple of minutes so stagger the drill timing. Maybe 4-10 rallies then 30 sec rest.
Using the full singles court Player A can only hit down the line (DTL) and player B can only hit crosscourt (CC). The result is the ball does figure 8’s around the court. Practice hitting CC and DTL for 10-15 minutes each.
Progression 1 - Rally
Start by rallying the ball and setting goals of how many rotations you can get. Every 4 balls equal 1 rotation. Start slow, aim for 3-4 rotations and build up from there. As your consistency improves you want to be getting 6-10 rotations more often than not.
This will build stamina, fitness and consistency.
Progression 2 - Competition
Same format of drill however you play the point out. If you’re hitting DTL the ball must bounce in that zone otherwise it’s out. Score mini sets of first to 11 then swap shots CC with DTL.
Progression 3 - Rally/Comp
Give a goal of rotations before the point can be played out. Example: You have to play 3 rotations then play the point out in the figure 8 format. Score mini sets of first to 11 then swap shots CC with DTL
Progression 4 - Groundstroke vs Volley
The same progressions and formats can be played with the baseline/ground stroker vs volleyer. The baseline player will have to work overtime.
Tennis Drill 2 - Forehand Winners
It’s a dog eat dog world and a simple rule in tennis is play your strengths against your opponents weaknesses. That’s what I want you to think about with this drill.
90% of tennis players have a stronger forehand (FH) than backhand (BH). Most players work this out pretty quickly about their opponent and of course hit most balls there during a match.
This drill is all about that scenario.
Feeding the ball into play you only have 2 simple rules:
1. Full singles court
2. You can only win the point on a FH shot
That means hit it to your opponents BH as much as possible. If they start waiting on the BH side too much play to the FH to keep them honest. This will help open up the court for the next shot anyway.
You want to be looking for the FH. Any balls in the middle of the court or you think you can run around, do it! If want practice getting the feet around balls, playing the off FH, inside out and inside in FH. Become the aggressor and force them to play BHs all day long, but remember they’ll be doing the same to you.
In the diagram, you can see when you play a deep shot to the opponents BH, if their return isn’t deep/wide enough back you can it a FH. Work on your anticipation and have fast feet. The area in blue is where you should be able to hit a FH if you want.
This is the key for BH defence is to hit it the ball early and out in front. If you can’t do that there is no hope of hitting a decent crosscourt ball and you’ll be giving the opponent a FH. Any late BHs are likely to be in the hitting zone shown in red.
Progression - DTL FH
When you get around the ball and are able to play a forehand, instead of being able to play it anywhere, it must be played DTL.
This means 2 things.
The first is you have to set yourself up to be able to hit FH they’ll struggle to get to. If the opponent is already standing in the middle of the court when you hit the DTL it’s an easy CC shot for them and you’re immediately on the back foot, playing a BH. You set it up by pulling the opponent wide on that BH, try to get their feet past the singles line, and then pounce on the FH DTL.
Tennis Drill 3 - Protect, Attack, Defense (Red Light, Orange Light, Green Light)
Every tennis coach has done some version of this drill sometime in their life. Protect/Attack/Defence (PAD) teaches players about:
- Decision making
- Reading the opponent
- Knowing your court position and what shot to play from there
- Pick your battles
- Give an insight as to what the opponent is thinking about their positioning
PAD is played full court singles, one on one. You need to call a word before you contact a ball describing what kind of shot you’re playing. You can use Protect (Orange), Attack (Green) or DEfence (Red). Some prefer to say colours in this drill. In the diagram below, you can see the general areas r what shot needs to be played.
The RED AREA is generally the defencive zone. Often you pulled out wide or playing balls off the back foot. When playing from these areas give yourself time to get back into position by giving the ball clearance over the net and slow the ball down by using spin. The ORANGE AREA if the neutral zone. You might come up with some strong hots from here but in all likelihood the opponent will be able to retrieve most returns. Stay in the rally from here by hitting deep and making the opponent play at least an Orange or Red ball.
THe GREEN AREA is the attack zone. If you’re pulled into the court you have to do something with this ball. you bodyweight is already moving forwards into the shot so take advantage. Remember the closer you get to the net the more angles you can play.
- If you pay an Attack shot, you want to opponent to return with a defencive shot. If you play Attack and they are able to play a neutral ball, the point can quickly change momentum and you’ll be playing a defensive shot.
- From the defensive position you want to force the opponent to play a neutral ball by hitting deep. Don’t go for an all or nothing hero winner from off the court. PLay a percentage shot to stay in the rally.
Progression - Competition
Once you have the hang of it, add some points into the drill.
- You can win a point by saying Attack before hitting the shot.
- However, if you say attack and make an unforced error, the opponent get the point.
- If you win the point on neutral or defence it doesn’t count.
- First to 11.
This make you think before pulling the trigger. Too many players attack at the wrong time or change their technique on the attack shot. This leads to unforced errors. A winner or true attack shot is when you notice to opponent is out of position or on the defence, and you capitalize.
These drills will boost your game if practiced regularly with your hitting partner. Our coaches do these drills and many of the same caliber during private lessons and adaptations for our group classes.
There are many variations for each of the drills above. This is a starting point but you can change rules or goal to suit your needs. Remember you want to be specific with your training and keep progressing. Don't just hit full court for an hour and call it a training session.
Click here if you’re interested in private lessons at Four Seasons Tennis or if want to check out our coaches out beforehand here they are.
Keep the practice up!
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