Practising tennis alone – can it really be done?
Let’s not kid ourselves, tennis is very much a sport that needs a minimum of two players to participate and compete.
However, it’s not always possible to find a partner to play with, whether for practice or competition. Therefore, many people start to wonder how to actually practice tennis by themselves, which is exactly what I’d like to show you in this piece.
To clear things up right off the bat, yes, it can be done, it just takes a little creativity and know-how – something I will share with you through the information contained within.
I guess the real beauty of this piece is that throughout my tennis career, especially as a child/teenager, I didn’t always have someone to play with.
Perhaps you are experiencing the same thing?
And I didn’t always know what I could do to solve the problem. Of course, these days, over the course of my 20+ years playing the game, I’ve picked up a few tricks and tips on what to do when finding a partner to practice with seems impossible.
Some of the things you can do to practice alone are quite beneficial too, which is something that not everyone thinks about. So, without further ado, let’s get started with the different things you can do to practice tennis alone.
Different methods of practising by yourself
I believe that there are four different things you can do to improve your tennis without having a partner, and I’ve described them in detail below:
I have to make a confession here, serving practice was never something I was a huge fan of, despite the fact that it is one of the most important elements of tennis.
Something about going out there and hitting serve after serve, particularly on a cold winter day in the UK just didn’t sit right with me.
I preferred to go out there and run around, using as much energy as possible, but seriously – practicing your serve is critical.
All you need is a basket of balls, ideally with plenty in so you’re not spending all of your time picking up balls, and yourself.
The great thing about serving practice is that it is one of the few areas of tennis that you truly can practice by yourself, and it’s realistic.
After all, you always start a point with a serve – there is no outside influence, only yourself.
Something I used to do when practising serves is to put cones out on various areas of the box, aim for the cones using various spins, and take note of my overall accuracy.
Of course, you don’t have to do the same thing, but it can be useful to both develop your serve and assess your improvements.
Hitting against a wall
Again, it’s difficult to go out there and choose to hit against a wall, but there are many great benefits of doing so.
I can remember as a kid that I was so eager to play that I would go and hit balls against the garage wall of my parent’s house when I couldn’t make it to the local club, much to their delight (not).
And while I didn’t really think about it at the time, this is a great way to mold your strokes and groove your technique, mainly on groundstrokes and volleys.
Another thing – the ball will keep coming back, I promise you, so there is no need to get upset with your opponent making too many unforced errors!
Sure, the ball isn’t going to come back at you like a regular groundstroke might do from your opponent, but at least you will hit plenty of balls.
You can always work on your take-back, contact point, body positioning, and so much more. But with this said, ideally you should try and find a hitting wall at your club, as this will give you plenty of space to move around and practice your swings.
Practice using a ball machine
If you’ve never used a ball machine before, you’ll probably find this section quite entertaining.
We have many great minds involved with tennis, and some clever people not so long ago came up with a solution to our absent hitting partners – which is when they developed the very first ball machine.
Fun fact for you, the first man to create a tennis ball machine was none other than Renee Lacoste, back in the 1920s. However, the first ball machine that needed nobody to operate it came in the 1970s.
You can even see the first machine in the video below:
These days, tennis ball machines are a little more advanced, thankfully!
These machines do come with hefty price tags depending on what you want from the machine, but they can be worth it in the long run.
Basically, you load up the machine with tennis balls, place it down the other end of the court, and then choose what you’d like to practice.
The better machines even allow you to pick different drills, spins, and you can alter the speed of the feed too. They really are impressive!
I have compiled a list of top tennis ball machine.
The final thing that you can work on by yourself is footwork drills.
Now, this kind of practice obviously doesn’t involve hitting any balls, but arguably, this form of practice is just as important.
After all, the very fundamentals of being able to hit a good shot in tennis start from your actual positioning for the ball.
If you’re too close, too far, or worse, you don’t get to the ball at all, your performance will suffer. You don’t need to load up on a ton of expensive equipment for these footwork drills either.
In fact, you can pick up a floor ladder and some cones for a relatively cheap price online, and this is something I’d recommend if you don’t have them already.
Place the cones however you please on the court, and then you can work on explosive first steps, particular footwork patterns, and much more.
I did this with my fitness coach more than I care to remember back in the day, but I like to think that it paid off, and I’m sure it will for you too!
Are you feeling more confident about practicing tennis alone after this article? Do let us know in the comments below.