How To Improve Footwork In Tennis?

Footwork, in tennis, is one of the core foundations upon which, players pay close attention to. We often wonder as to what makes players like Roger Federer and Serena Williams stand out from the competition. Could it be their technique or the level of skill they possess? It may as well be. However, all of these factors are pretty much useless unless the player can improvise and move accordingly. For this reason, we find it critical for all beginner and expert players to continuously work to improve footwork in tennis.

Despite being a luxury sport, it comes off as a relief to know that footwork training is economical and can even be done at home. There are mainly two types of equipment required: training cones and agility ladders. In an overall sense, both of these items are relatively cheap and can be used in a long-term sense. It is unlikely that you’ll need to purchase another set of cones or a ladder unless they’re destroyed or worn out. The average total cost of buying train cones and agility ladder is approximately $35.

ItemAverage Price ($)Average Price Range ($)
Training Cones (Set of 20)16.611-25
Agility Ladder 18.312-30
Average price

What Is Footwork?

Before we can discuss ways to improve our footwork, it is important to understand what footwork, itself, stands for. By definition, footwork, in tennis, relates to how well a player can control their movements during a match. Your success, as a tennis player, primarily depends on how quickly you’re able to get to the ball and respond to your opponent’s strike.

Tennis strategies often require players to accelerate, slow down, and suddenly shift momentum in general. Being able to control your movement will give you the edge of reaching the ball and striking it in a way that can exponentially increase your chances of earning a point. Your goal should be to make sure to strike the ball in such a way that the opponent fails to reach it on time.

This can only be done if you reach the ball quickly enough yourself, and improvise the strategy or technique you imply during your practice sessions.

Another important factor is how improving footwork greatly reduces a player’s unforced error ratio. Tennis experts have suggested how most players suffer defeats because of their inability to organize themselves during a match. This makes it far more difficult for players to judge and mark their timing accordingly. To counteract this issue, players tend to focus a major portion of their time and effort to improve footwork in tennis.

Types Of Footwork in Tennis

It’s Best To Start Practicing Footwork From A Young Age

The tennis court is a large area that requires players to move around in all directions. It’s easy to watch international tennis players move on screen but to be able to reach that level of grace, it’s important to understand the hours and hours of hard work they put in behind the scenes.

If you actively watch tennis matches on your mobile or television screens, you should be able to notice how all players follow a certain pattern of movement.

Tennis footwork begins from the very start of the match. There are evidently different types of footwork movement that are applied according to the situation.

To make it easier to understand, every time the player adjusts themselves to strike the ball, we can call that to be footwork too. How? It’s simple!

When the opponent strikes the ball towards the player, the first thing to think about is where the ball is ultimately going to land. Once that part is determined, the player automatically moves towards the position and adjusts their position to make sure that the shot they play, lands within the court boundary.

This entire process of movement and adjustment comes under the category of footwork. If the player is unable to follow all these actions within a certain timeframe, they will likely either fail to hit the ball or be unable to reach it together.

Alternatively, players need to be ready for all shot variations. Let’s suppose a player strikes a ball and expects the opponent to strike back in a similar style. But wait! Instead of doing that, the opponent cleverly plays a drop shot. In such a scenario, the player would need to accelerate and bend over to be able to hit the ball properly.

As unusual as it may seem, the time and accuracy for the player to move and adjust themselves accordingly are accredited to their efficient footwork.

Why Do Players Bounce The Tennis Ball Before A Serve?

This is, perhaps, one of the most frequently asked questions by beginners. Interestingly enough, the answer also has everything to do with footwork!

The reason why players bounce the ball is that it sort of helps them get into the right rhythm and shape. The ball bouncing is a technique that supposedly triggers muscle memory for players which, in turn, allows them to adjust their footwork.

The bouncing technique enables the player to mentally focus and recall their training and exercise drills to ensure efficiency and balance.

In other words, the bouncing technique refers to a player who attempts to prepare for the round by adjusting their footwork.

Ways To Improve Footwork In Tennis

Countless training methods have been defined to improve footwork in tennis. Different coaches set up distinct tennis footwork drills that may vary depending upon your experience. However, this article mainly addresses beginners and amateurs. We’ve compiled a list of basic and advanced tennis footwork drills that you can perform to improve footwork in tennis!

1. Split Set

This is the foundation of every footwork drill. The split set is when the players make small and consistent jumps as they stand there waiting for the opposition to make their move. This is done by using your toes to push your body slightly above the ground in a manner that you’re able to make sudden movements in any given direction.

The split set sort of gives an energetic vibe. Players can gain enough momentum to react according to how the opponent serves or strikes the ball. Amongst all the others, the split set is one footwork drill that is the easiest to do at home.

2. First Step

This step is also referred to as the act of acceleration. More often than not, you’d be required to run at a fast pace to get to the ball. Consequently, you should be able to run across the court in different directions. This is part of tennis footwork patterns that you’ll need to practice regularly.

One crucial element of the first step is balance. When running at full speed, you need to be careful of the steps you take as to not fall in between and end up injuring your body.

Many beginners are so determined to improve their runtime that they completely ignore the positioning of their legs.

The first step is all about maintaining your confidence and physical prowess. You’d want to excel but not at the cost of losing your balance. For this reason, it is highly recommended that you make a habit of asserting additional force onto your legs when committing to this drill. Your speed is only as good as your aggression in the game!

3. Crossover Step

This is a drill that involves the players moving sideways in the court. Your opponent isn’t going to hit the ball in the same direction every time so you’ll be needing to manage sideways direction efficiently. This is what the crossover step does by objectively putting you in a position of power through dynamic movement.

The crossover step basically makes you move to a neutral position in the court. When you strike a ball, it’s a bad habit to stay in the same position.

Rather, you’re supposed to move towards a position where you’re able to pick the ball from anywhere within the boundary. This action is taken right after you strike the ball towards the opponent. One can even call it a recovery step!

By practicing this drill, you’ll develop the habit of movement automatically, right after you hit the ball with your racquet. As a result, you’ll be needing to put in relatively less effort and force when covering the area of the court.

4. Body Position

If you’re planning to play tennis for a long time, then know how posture is key! Many coaches and academies are so engaged in striking techniques and acceleration that they forget to focus on a player’s posture.

Maintaining a proper stance is one factor that you’ll need to be consistent with. The posture itself is not too difficult to master. As a player, you would be needing to stand in a manner where your spine supports your body weight. Otherwise, it won’t be long before you end up with cramps in different parts of your body.

Holding your posture throughout your match is what you should be aiming for. There should be no breaks in between. Whether you’re serving or accelerating, the moment you lose your posture will be the moment your chances of lasting in the game will deteriorate.

Thus, this principle needs to be highly prioritized and can be practiced with all the other drills simultaneously.

The Cost Of Equipment To Improve Footwork In Tennis

Crossover Step While Maintaining A Suitable Posture

Footwork drills at home are economically feasible compared to other equipment and accessories used in tennis. Where racquets and memberships can go up to $1000, it seems fair to think that basic practice equipment like cones and an agility ladder costs a measly amount of $35.

At the same time, by using the agility ladder and the set of cones, you’ll pretty much be able to practice all the necessary drills required. The cones and be reused and adjusted according to the drill set whereas, the agility ladder is a durable item that doesn’t wear out for a long time.

Conclusion & Tips

Pro Tip: Balance Is The Key To Progress

The principles of footwork are what can separate you from the competition. If you aspire to compare yourself to the likes of Roger Federer one day, you need to read up on his struggles in life. To be able to achieve such a level, it’s important to recognize the hard work and consistency involved.

The drills mentioned afore are mainly designed to train beginners. To improve footwork in tennis, it is mandatory to follow all the prescribed guidelines on a routine basis.

It is equally important to perform these drills correctly. Otherwise, you’d just be wasting your time. To help with your training, you can always ask someone to preview your posture by matching with videos you may watch online or through a professional coach.

Let’s not forget how tennis footwork equipment is also somewhat necessary. They are what makes your training precise and useful. If you can master the basics, you’ll be able to jump miles ahead of the competition. Think of it as a shortcut that brings you closer to become a future tennis star!

For more information on the basics of tennis, please click HERE as we talk about other accessories that may give you an edge in the game.

Recent Posts