One of the most difficult parts of being a tennis player is training the body to move quickly from sideline to sideline. Cardio routines and strength work can boost endurance, but it's important to train specifically for action on the court.
It only takes a moment for a ball to squeak past your racquet and land in for a winner. "Improving tennis athletes' technique and efficiency will give them that extra split second to get set up for the shot," says Corey Stenstrup, a Combine360 Master Trainer who works with top junior and pro players at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy.
The Three-Ball Drill can help improve reaction time and make reading and responding to incoming shots easier. The important aspect of the drill is to maintain good form. "The goal is to facilitate proper full speed movement applications," says Stenstrup. "The end objective is to move in one fluid action, so all movements are linked together seamlessly."
- Partner stands in the middle of the court, just inside the baseline, facing you and holding two balls in one hand and one in the other
- You stand behind the baseline facing the net
- Partner feeds a ball underhand to one side of you
- Slide laterally to catch the ball off one bounce—with one hand, if possible—and toss it back while recovering to start position
- As you return the first ball, partner throws another one to the opposite side; typically, two balls are in play at the same time
- To increase intensity, vary the tempo and location of each ball
Sets/Reps: Can be done for time or reps, either 8-15 seconds or 6-10 tosses per set
"I like to end each bout with a short ball," says Stenstrup, "so they have to approach the net to visualize and simulate a volley winner at the net."
Source: Corey Stenstrup
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock