Tennis Ball Machine Drills – Improve Your Forehand, Backhand and Volleys

Tennis Ball Machine Drills – Improve Your Forehand, Backhand and Volleys

Using a tennis ball machine is one of the best ways to improve your tennis when you’re alone. There are many different drills you can do on the ball machine and in this video lesson, coach Simon Konov of Top Tennis Training will show you ten different drills that will help you improve your tennis forehand, tennis backhand, tennis slice backhand, forehand volley, backhand volley and you tennis footwork and movement.

There are two common errors that tennis players make when they’re using a ball machine, the first one is they use poor footwork. Because we know where the ball is going, it’s easy to start cheating and forget about our split step, our footwork to the ball and the recovery from the shot. This creates a bad habit that is hard to break when you play tennis matches. The second mistake is late preparation. We know which side the ball will be fed to, so we can delay the racket preparation and wait for the ball to arrive quite close to us before we start the swing.

So when you are working out on the ball machine, focus on these two key things on every drill you’re doing:
1. Using good footwork at all times. This doesn’t mean you have to use fully intensity on every step but you want to be using a split step, a few steps to and from the ball.
2. Early preparation. By focusing on when the ball leaves the machine, you’ll be able to start your swing early and get into a good habit of preparing early for the shot.

Here are the drills you can use to work on each area of your game:

Drill One
Forehands with recovery steps. Place a cone just off centre and get the balls to land a few feet inside the singles sideline. Start behind the cone and run out to the ball using fast feet, hit your shot and then recover back to the cone. Go for 8-12 balls in a row then have a 10-20 second rest before repeating. Aim to do at least five sets of this drill which would be around 50 balls. Don’t forget your split step when doing this drill.

Drill Two – Backhands with recovery steps. The same method as with the forehand drill but this time you’re hitting backhands crosscourt and focusing on pushing off with your left leg (if right-handed).

Drill Three – Slice backhands with recovery steps. Similar to the forehand and backhand drill but now you’ll be hitting the slice backhand from further off the court so you’ll have to use more recovery steps and slow down the tempo.

Drill Four – Low forehand volleys down the line. Make the ball machine feed balls that are dipping inside the service box and start slightly behind the service line. Move forward to pick up the low forehand volley and aim down the line, make sure to get down low using your legs to lunge into the ball. After you hit the volley, recover one or two steps back and repeat. Work on cutting under the ball with your strings opening up towards the sky which will help you produce underspin which will keep the ball low.

Drill Five – Medium height forehand volleys. Set up the ball machine to feed you mid-range balls and focus once again on producing good underspin on the volleys. Now you can start working on using the two-step footwork pattern which would be loading up on the right leg then stepping onto the left leg as you hit the ball.

Drill Six – High forehand volleys. Set up the machine to feed you higher balls on your forehand side. In this drill, your targets will open up and include the down the line shot, deep crosscourt and also the short angle crosscourt. Focus on transferring your body weight through the volley and then recover.

Drill Seven – Low backhand volleys down the line. Set up the ball machine to feed balls that are dipping inside the service box and start slightly behind the service line. Move forward to pick up the low backhand volley and aim down the line, make sure to get down low using your legs to lunge into the ball. After you hit the volley, recover one or two steps back and repeat. Work on cutting under the ball with your strings opening up towards the sky which will help you produce underspin which will keep the ball low.

Drill Eight – Medium height backhand volleys. Set up the ball machine to feed you mid-range balls and focus once again on producing good underspin on the volleys. Focus on using the two-step footwork pattern which would be loading up on the left leg then jumping onto the right leg as you hit the ball.

Drill Nine – High backhand volleys. Set up the machine to feed you higher balls on your backhand side. In this drill, your targets will open up and include the down the line shot, deep crosscourt and also the short angle crosscourt. Focus on transferring your body weight through the volley and then recover.

With all of these drills, your focus should be on hitting the ball in the court consistently and making sure you’re keeping good intensity throughout.

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