How to Improve Footwork in Tennis

Injuries will come to you when you play tennis. Scary as it may sound, but this can all be true if your footwork is lame and weak. 

You do not have to be a pro before learning the tennis footwork drills that can strengthen your legs.

Read on and find out how you can do tennis footwork just like a professional tennis player

1. Do the Split Step

What is a split step? This move would be a fundamental move in tennis but a crucial one as well. A player takes a small hop as your opponent is hitting the ball back to you. 

This becomes important because it prepares the player to head to where the ball is to land.

Technically, this is the ground movement for every player, which a coach typically starts training them with that allows them to move around and quickly get to the ball.

You cannot position your feet just firmly on the ground because tennis is a game of constant movement. Your success relies significantly on how you perfect this technique through footwork drills.

After the split steps, the first step takes effect where you lean your body forward to whichever part of the court you are going.

You are incorporating this with prep steps which are small but controlled as you prepare to take a shot. 

This part occurs when you are approaching the ball after the opponent returns it to you. 

These three steps go hand in hand as it develops tennis agility and balance.

2. Improve Your Sprint

You have to remember that in tennis, you need to move your body quickly, from one side to the other, towards or away from the ball, or else you will lose to your opponent. 

Your skills in backhand, forehand, or even a killing drop shot will not be worth anything if you cannot sprint towards your target. 

Your entire performance in a match relies on how fast your feet can get to the ball and hit it. 

To bear in mind, sprinting may involve speeding up, but it all starts with slowly warming up the body, feet, and legs especially.

It would only mean “Injury waiting to happen” if you do not take time to stretch your muscles until you start speeding up with your other routines.

Running is a very effective method for improving your sprint. While you are warming up, you can simply run in slow motion after stretching.

Tennis players often just run around, doing their drills, on the tennis court before they start with their practice games.

After warming up, you have to cool down as well, which is precisely the reverse movements of what you had done when you started with your drills.

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3. Practice Deceleration

Accelerating is vital in the game of tennis as you will always be after the ball. Speed is essential in this game, but so is deceleration. 

A tennis player must learn how to absorb force by flexing their knees, ankles, and pelvis and tilting the rear part of their body opposite of where they are accelerating. 

In tennis, accelerating is as constant as decelerating. Having your footwork drills will prepare you at all times.

How you started when you speeded up will be the basis of how you cool down as well.  

Tennis players need to focus on strengthening their muscles since this is a vital part of executing proper deceleration, and this is where tennis footwork takes place.

It doesn’t have to be complicated or heavy workouts. Reaching higher speed can help you decelerate and help you greatly in getting more balls during games. 

Straight posture will give strength to the lower back, which will help with your good footwork drills.

Your arms should also have the same amount of effort exerted in exercising it. It will help to oppose the lower body’s movement, which helps in absorbing force. 

Once you get used to this, you will get more balls in no time.

4. Enhance Your Crossover Step

Learning the proper footwork is very important, just like learning to have powerful shots. One of the footwork drills that you need to learn and enhance is your crossover step. 

A player commonly does this when changing movement sideways. You can do tennis footwork drills to enhance your shuffle step since it goes along with crossover. 

Most players do not have much difficulty doing the cross-step drill inside the court. Just like what the name says, players cross over the other one to get to the incoming call swiftly. 

crossover

Your ability to shift your weight to your other leg as you make your movement will improve as you practice frequently.-This will increase your endurance and agility.

You can spend more time on side step exercises and practice how you can get balls faster this way. 

Start practicing the exercise from the service line to the middle of the court. 

You can use cones as your guides on both sides, or you can work with other tennis players and perform drills by lining up behind each other during practice.

You can also do this as you are moving backwards. You will save time in getting the ball rather than turning your entire body if the ball is heading to the back part.

5. Do the Fast Foot Tap

These types of footwork(1) taps are practiced by other athletes, not just tennis players. This still enhances endurance which is the core of the exercises performed.

Usually, these footwork exercises are part of warm-up exercises in court, but they can also be a strength workout. 

This will aim at your lower extremities, hamstrings, hip flexors, quadriceps, glutes, and calves. 

Instead of the usual where you will need a platform, you can do this by simply tapping your toe on the ground as you point it at the opposite side, one at a time.

Upon starting, the right position would be your left one on the ground and lifting the right one mid-air. Switching the two and increasing rate as you gain steady balance and momentum. 

Balance is essential in good footwork. A common mistake of beginner tennis players would be when they lift their heads too soon, causing them to lose their balance.

Additional Tips From Our Experts

tips

Just like what Roger Federer was quoted with, “The key to exploring my potential is improving my footwork… It’s always what I’ve been working on.” 

He has a good point since this is an essential part of enhancing your tennis skills. 

You can learn various footwork drills that will end up with great output, summarized with these stages.

  • Having the ideal position- to help you get to the possible area where the ball will land. 
  • Placement of your feet – positioning your body to take the next shot
  • Gaining momentum – preparing your entire body for the move, you will be doing
  • Recovering – hitting back the tennis ball and placing it in the right direction

FAQS

Tennis footwork is no different from what other physical games require. It allows the player to be in the proper position to take a shot. It will also allow us to strike harder by throwing out body weight when we swing the racquet. Lastly, it will keep us away from potential injury. 

With the proper movement, the player can hit balls and remain balanced as they play.

This will depend if you are a righty or a lefty. The coach will always say that you must be in your optimal position before a player hits the ball while bouncing slightly.  

A great player would always be ready with their racquet out in front, ready for the shots from their opposite side.   

Once ready, begin with the dominant one, planting it steady and taking a step forward with the other ones, you make a shot at the ball.

Improving your Footwork in Tennis

We couldn’t reiterate the importance of footwork in this field of sports. 

Your skills in doing backhand shots, a volley, or a slice will not be helpful unless you can get the next ball returned to you.

Tennis footwork drills are crucial in developing your agility and control in playing this game. 

Begin practicing tennis footwork drills, and in the least amount of time, you will see that your skills will match if not exceed some individuals you know who played the game ahead of you. 

You can also learn proper footwork if you watch videos and get exclusive offers from coaches online.

References:

  1. http://www.playerdevelopment.usta.com/Improve-Your-Game/Sport-Science/116188_Technique_Footwork_Drills_for_Tennis_Players_on_the_Road/

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