There are times it’s tough to practice tennis outdoors, and this could be for a variety of reasons – including the 2020 pandemic which made it rather difficult for people from every strata. What can you or those around you do to practice tennis even without access to tennis courts, i.e. to train for tennis at home without the use of tennis courts?
If you or your children love the game of tennis, then you will know exactly how to practice tennis without a court. It’s easy. You pick up a racket, you stand in the middle of the living room, and you practice your different tennis shots.
Serve, forehand, backhand, volley and smash. And repeat.
Of course you run the risk of hitting the vase off the dresser, hitting the dog who jumps up to see what you are doing, or driving your tennis racket through the glass window.
And while you can practice your shots in the living room, if the living room is big enough, we do suggest you clear the living room first! And this may not exactly suit the rest of your family.
On a serious note, there are a lot of really good ways of practicing tennis at home, either in the lounge, in your bedroom or in the back yard. And of course, if you have the space and the expertise, or the money to hire a builder, you can build and design a tennis wall for yourself.
Let’s take a look at how you can practice tennis at home without a tennis court.
How to Practice Tennis at Home without a Court?
There are multiple ways in which you can improve your tennis even when you are stuck at home without any access to a tennis court. Below is an exhaustive list of drills you can perform to get going with your game as you look to take advantage of remaining at home as a tennis player.
Practice your Tennis Grip
You do not need a lot of space to do this.
Stand with your feet planted firmly in the ground, as you would to receive a forehand or a backhand, or as you would to serve, and practice holding your tennis racket correctly.
Tennis players use different grips for various tennis shots, and you need to practice these grips. You also need to practice changing from one grip to another.
You can do this tennis drill without a ball and you only need enough space to do an ‘imaginary’ forehand, backhand, volley or serve. Remember, keep it the way you have been taught, so you don’t get into any bad tennis habits at home.
Work on Your Hand-Eye Coordination
Pick up a racket and a tennis ball and do a whole lot (a few hundred) bouncing ball drills. This is an excellent at-home exercise for new tennis players and for younger players, just to work on that racket / ball connection.
It’s also excellent for experienced tennis players, not only for the connection but for upper arm muscle strength and for wrist strengthening.
Basically you hold your racket out in front of you, with your palm facing up. Bounce the tennis ball up and off the strings, and then keep bouncing.
The ball is not allowed to touch the floor. When it does, you start again. As you get more confident, you can do it by alternatively turning the racket around. Palm down, hit, palm up, hit, palm down, hit, palm up – and keep going.
You can do this on your forehand only, on your backhand only, and then alternatively between your forehand and backhand too.
It comes naturally, after a while. Note you can also do this without the tennis ball, just practice holding the racket out, moving it up and down, palm up and down, and forehand to backhand. It is really good for your all round muscle strength and exceptionally important to warm up and strengthen your wrists too.
Forehands, Backhands and Volleys
Chances are, your tennis coach is teaching you a variety of forehand and backhand shots, with slice, with top spin or just with great ferocity.
You can practice these shots, as well as volleys, lobs and smashes, without a ball. Again, ensure the indoor space that you are using is clear of any obstacles, stand with your feet planted firmly in the ground, with your knees slightly bent as they would be for tennis, and practice your shots.
Pretend you have a ball.
And of course, if you have a garden, this is even better. Do each shot thinking of what your coach would tell you, and don’t stint on the follow-through.
If you do not have enough space, rather find another drill. You want to practice tennis, but you do want to practice your shots properly.
And remember you can always watch a Youtube tutorial first; there are plenty of tennis tutorials on the internet.
Find a Wall, Draw a Line on it, Play Tennis!
If you are lucky enough to have a backyard with a wall, make it into a temporary tennis wall. Paint a line on it, or ask your parents to do this, at the same height as a tennis net would be.
It’s helpful if there is a concrete slab, otherwise the ball is not going to bounce after hitting the wall. Either way, having a wall that you can play against (perhaps in the garage) is fabulous and you can practice your serves, even if they don’t come back to you.
Remember to keep the ball under control when you are playing against a wall, pretty much as if you were playing against a court.
By the way, there are professional tennis backboards that you can have specially designed and made up. You can get a builder to make one for you or you can do it on your own, as long as you have the space and the materials.
Having a backboard is an excellent way how to practice tennis without a court, and it is brilliant for your tennis shots and for your fitness.
If you do not have space, find a tennis club nearby that does have a tennis wall. You only need your tennis shoes, a racket and a ball or two, and you can play to your heart’s content. If you are serious, then:
- 3 minutes of forehand tennis strokes
- 3 minutes of backhand tennis strokes
- 3 minutes of a forehand tennis slice
- 3 minutes of a backhand tennis slice
- 3 minutes of tennis serves, including the first and second serve
- 3 minutes of tennis volleys.
You can build up from this, practicing for longer and practicing a variety of tennis shots, or you can just play and have fun.
Tennis boards are great for practicing doubles too, and not nearly as exhausting as playing singles.
Practice your Footwork
You can do this holding a tennis racket or without the racket. You know the stance that you use for a forehand, and you know how quickly you hit the shot and then run back to the middle of the court or up to the net.
Practice these moves, including serving and running up to a (imaginary) net. You can also buy equipment like specialised ropes – tennis coaches use them – and use them in your garden or living room.
Basically you practice jumping or moving from section to section quickly and seamlessly, excellent for your tennis skills and your fitness.
If you do this holding a racket, you can practice standing, hitting a ball (without the ball), pivoting on your feet, and getting ready for the next shot.
All these drills may sound complicated but if you are a tennis player, practicing tennis without a court will come naturally to you.
You will know exactly what to do, and if you don’t, you will ask your tennis coach to give you a few ‘at-home’ skills, or you can use the Internet. It’s easy to practice volleys (again, with or without a ball) and you can practice your punch volleys, drive volleys, drop volleys and half volleys, in the kitchen or the bathroom too.
Look after Your Fitness
General fitness is really important too. Never under estimate how good a jog around the neighborhood is, how important it is to do push ups or weight training, as well as those stomach crunches.
This is not tennis but it is good for tennis strength and fitness. Before you start, make sure you are doing the exercises correctly.
Go to a trainer for a once-off fitness session, or if you find it easier or cheaper, use the Internet to find the right at-home fitness training routine for you.
Find a Partner and Do Tennis Drills Together
Again, you need to be aware of space. If you are in an apartment, it may be quite tricky to volley the ball back and forth at one another, especially if your mom is wandering around with dinner in her hands.
But if you can clear a space, or use the garage or garden, or the school field or park, you and a partner can volley the ball to one another. You do not need to have a net, and as long as you keep your strokes the way they would be in a real game of tennis, do it for as long as you can.
What are you waiting for? Practice makes perfect.
Good tennis players play the game often and they practice often. New players may need to ‘get into the swing of things’ slowly, and that is just fine.
Nobody wants to put undue pressure on any tennis player. But for those tennis players who are driven and really want to improve their game, practice at home, practice in the kitchen (sorry mom), practice standing in front of a mirror so you can see your shots clearly, and play against any wall you can find.
You only need a tennis racket, a tennis ball (don’t let the dog get it) and a little bit of space.
Lastly, if you want to understand how competitive and professional tennis is getting panned out during the coronavirus pandemic, here’s our exhaustive guide on it.
Final Words on Practicing Tennis Alone at Home
While the best way to practice tennis is get outdoors with your racket, ball and a few of your friends or coach, it’s not always possible or feasible to do that.
To ensure one remains in touch with the sport, and is constantly learning and making the sport a part of your muscle memory, one can also practice tennis alone at home and the above piece lists all the ways in which one can do that to get going.