No doubt about it, times are tough for everyone, and tennis is no exception. If you are fortunate enough to have a tennis racquet and a pair of athletic shoes, you have access to some fun, low cost exercise. We have seen top pros practicing against a wall, and participating in volley challenges on social media. The USTA has produced “tennis at home” content for players to enjoy tennis away from the traditional tennis court. Here are some suggestions on how to tennis from home.
Low Compression Balls = Safe Inside Play
First things first, one thing none of us can make is a tennis ball. For knocking the ball around in the backyard or the drive way, you don’t need a fresh can of Wilson US Open. In fact, some environments are better suited to slightly “dead” balls, or better yet, some of the lower compression red or orange balls that are typically utilized by younger juniors. They won’t fly as fast or as far, and it will help everyone keep up with their social distancing measures. For indoor environments, slightly larger foam balls are a clear winner. Not only are they much quieter than a felt ball, they also won’t do as much damage to that antique coffee table, or glass vase. If you are attempting the Federer Wall Challenge against the garage door, I would recommend the lower compression or foam balls (shown above), which will reduce or eliminate noise complaints from the neighbors.
Any Racquet Will Do
Any racquet can work for tennis at home, even if it is a little bit older. Junior racquets can be excellent options for driveway drills and can make it more interesting during games/drills. Consider putting a new grip on the racquet so it can stay comfortable in your hand.
Pop Up or Imaginary Nets
Though the portable pop up nets are awesome, you may not always have them at your disposal. Use your imagination: even a crack in the driveway can be the net, a strip of masking/painters tape, or a ladder on its side are perfect substitutes. Sidewalk chalk is another simple, but suitable solution for court lines, targets, and drills. If you have kids, let them help you create and design the court. It can be a creative and fun activity that the kids can take some ownership in.
Most of us can’t fit a 78 foot tennis court in our house or driveway, so use the space you have and focus on some of the more finesse skills of tennis. Work on your touch drop shots and lobs, if you have a hard time with your backhand volley, force your self to hit more of them, so when the courts open up again you will have more confidence. Here are some games and drills to keep you skills sharp.
Fun Games to Play
Drop Feed Mini Tennis
- Drop feed the serve and play games to 7 points (2 out of 3 games for a match).
- To increase the difficulty, every shot after the feed must be volleyed out of the air.
- Implement new rules as you go. I.E. Have a “Only hit cross-court” rule making the game much more about smarts and finesse.
- For additionally difficulty stipulate that players can only hit forehands, or only hit backhands. This adds some strategy, and critical thinking to the mix.
Fun Drills to Practice
Groundstroke to Volley SeeSaw
This drill will get the blood pumping, and it will be great practice at quick-burst movements.
- Ball is drop fed in.
- Players have to hit a groundstroke, followed by a volley, then back up and play a groundstroke until someone misses.
Volley to Volley with Lunges
This is more of a fitness focused drill than a technical drill. However, it’s very good at working your hand-eye coordination so you can get really good at the net.
- Start volleying back and forth maintaining a good rally.
- After about 10 hits start to lunge in-between each volley.
- If that’s still too easy, try to move side to side.
This drill focuses on your accuracy and precision which will translate to better strategies when you play.
- Set up some targets to aim at (Old hats, shoes, and buckets are easy to find garage items that make effective targets).
- Then try to hit different strokes aiming for the targets (Forehands, Backhands, Serves, Volleys, Tweeners, etc.)
- For more difficulty add some distance between you and the target.
Although we’ve gotten use to being stuck indoors, a little creativity and ingenuity can go a long way. You can bring tennis to your driveway or backyard, and get those exercise endorphins flowing again. If you find yourself needing some supplies for your home court, we carry it all: Portable nets, balls, racquets, grips, throw down lines, and targets. Stay safe out there everyone.