Tennis footwork exercises and agility drills can benefit every tennis player regardless of age. Many players make mistakes in their tennis footwork because they fail to do the proper training with tennis footwork exercises.
In professional tennis, tennis footwork is considered as one of the most important for execution in matches.
Proper footwork in tennis will allow you to get into the right position to execute the stroke in balance, leading to a better overall shot. In addition, proper tennis footwork will also allow you to recover after returning a ball. Thus, if you want to play tennis effectively, a player must learn and practice not only the correct movements but also engage in agility drills to improve their performance on court.
Below are some tennis footwork exercises for you to develop and improve your footwork execution.
Jumping rope tennis footwork exercise
The objective of this tennis footwork exercise is for the players to improve their alertness and endurance. This is also important to develop the players hand and body coordination and also timing.
Everybody is familiar with how to do execute this jumping rope exercise because it is a very old exercise. This exercise may be outdated, but it is a very good way to tone up all the muscles in your body and develop your footwork. If you have not done this exercise, it might be a bit difficult for you in the beginning but as you practice it every day it will just come naturally.
This exercise should be done in a hard surface that is free of any movement when you do the jumping part of the exercise. You can also do the exercise in a soft but stable surface like grass. This is ideal especially for beginners because it is less hard on your feet and ankles.
For beginners or for players who have not done any jumping rope exercise before, you can do a short interval first. A 20-second rope jump followed by a 5-second rest interval is ideal. As you go along, you can increase your time interval between the rope jump and your rest period. Once you have mastered this tennis footwork exercise, you can do a three-minute rope jump and 60-second rest period interval, for at least four sets. You can do many sets as you can but remember not to overdo it.
Split step tennis footwork exercise
The split step is one of the most common footwork used when you play tennis. The objective of this split step footwork exercise is to develop your anticipation capability because in a tennis game, good anticipation as to where your opponent will hit the ball is very important. This exercise will also improve your agility when you are already on the court.
The split step is normally done by tennis players anticipating the return of their opponent. This is done by jumping at about 1 or 2 inches from the ground. However, to do this jump you have to time it perfectly that when you land on your toes, you opponent has just made contact with the ball.
Once you are up in the air, you have to spread you legs apart. The width of the spread depends on how comfortable you are when you land on the ground. Some players like to have their legs spread wider but some prefer to have their legs closer to each other. Ideally, the gap between the legs should be about the shoulder width. As mentioned above, you should be comfortable enough the way you speed you legs, because it is very important that you are ready to spring towards the ball when you land. To give you more stability and readiness to spring towards the ball, you should also bend your knees when you land.
At the start of the exercise, you must position yourself on the baseline (center) facing the net. From the position, execute the split step (as described above) imagining that have an opponent in the other side of the court. When you do the split step, make sure not to be off balance when you land. Upon landing, run to the right corner of the doubles alley and from there; go back to the center of the court using shuffle steps. Once you are in your initial position, run to the other side of the court (left corner of the doubles alley) and go back to the center with same side step. Repeat the exercise three times and take a rest for 60 seconds and do the same process for three sets successively.
Agility Ladder tennis footwork exercise
The main purpose of the agility ladder exercise is to improve your foot speed and to improve your body control.
Just like the jumping rope exercise, you need time to develop confidence in doing the ladder agility exercise. But as you continue with your workout, you will realize that it is not as hard as you think. You just have to be persistent on doing the exercise until you master it. Another reminder when you do this exercise is to do it slowly, take time to rest if you’re exhausted. Soon, you will realize that you are able to develop your body movement accordingly.
Before you can perform this exercise you have to purchase the exercise ladder which is very cheap. However, you also have the option to make it yourself with the use of rope or just a piece chalk. Below are some basic ladder agility exercises:
Single leg run
This tennis footwork exercise is performed by moving up the ladder with only one foot stepping each ladder step. Just imagine you are going upstairs to the second floor of your house. First you step with one foot on the first step of the ladder then you step with your other foot in the second step. When you do the exercise, do it quick.
Double leg run
this ladder agility exercise is performed by moving up the ladder with your two feet stepping on each of the step of the ladder. Same as the single leg run, this exercise has to be done in a fast speed.
Double side step
this ladder footwork exercise is accomplished either by single leg run or double leg run. However, instead of going forward with your body facing ladder, you have to do the exercise in sideways position.
to do this agility ladder exercise, you have to step with your left and right foot on each step of the ladder. You can either step with you left foot or right foot first. Instead of going straight to the second step after your feet have stepped on the first step, step your left (if you step first your left feet) outside the ladder to the left. Then continue with double leg run in the second step. Again before going to the third step of the ladder, you have to do a side step outside the ladder and this time you have to do it with your right foot (if your right foot did the second step on the first step of the ladder).
Continue the drill up to the last step with an alternate sidestep (left and right foot) outside the ladder along the way.
Things to remember when you do tennis footwork exercises
Spread you legs at shoulder-wide apart and do not land on your toes but on your foot balls. Do not just put your hands you your side but try to move them while you are doing the exercise. Position your elbows near to your body and don’t look down but always have your head up. Just glance every now and then in the ladder.
Lateral-movement tennis footwork exercise.
This tennis footwork exercise imitates the footwork use in actual tennis matches. This footwork exercise is performed with the use of the same ladder above. In this exercise, you have to start at the left corner of the first step of the ladder. Then step into the first step with your left foot first and the right foot. Now your two feet are in the ladder (first step). The next stage is to step out of the ladder to you right with foot right first and then left foot. The next stage then is to step to the outside left of the second step. This means that you have to move your feet diagonally. Then step inside the ladder and repeat the same process until you reach the top.
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