There’s a reason you’ll see a wooden backboard behind many public tennis courts. The backboard can serve as a training partner of sorts when you don’t have a live body to work with. You can also improve your skills on an empty court without a backboard if you bring the right tools. Either way, the hard work you do on your own can pay off big time when you're playing against a real person.
Hit balls against the backboard on a tennis court, the wall in a gym or any other appropriate wall you can find. Simply hit the ball against the backboard, then position yourself to hit the rebound back. Stand 10 to 25 feet away from the wall to practice flat or topspin shots, 10 to 18 feet away for slices or 6 to 10 feet away to work on volleys. Have a plan before you begin. For example, either count your strokes or set a specific amount of time to hit flat forehands, flat backhands and so on. Or you could practice hitting a forehand at a slight angle to your left -- if you’re right-handed -- and then turning around and hitting a backhand on the rebound.
Bring a ball machine to an empty court to practice your groundstrokes. The machine makes it easier to balance your practice between different shots because you’ll know how many balls it can hold. Set up targets on the court -- such as cones or empty tennis ball cans -- and try to hit them to improve your accuracy. Practice all of your groundstrokes. If you can time the machine correctly, charge the net from different positions to practice volleying on the run.
Place some balls in a large basket and hit serves on an empty court. Practice hitting a variety of serves from both the deuce and ad courts. Simulate first serves by hitting with maximum velocity, as well as second serves, which you’ll try to spin into the service court. Set targets at the back of the service court, including two just inside the far corners, and try to hit them with different types of serves.
- If you’re practicing on an empty court, make sure your shots won’t interfere with players on nearby courts.
- If you’re new to tennis, consult your doctor before you begin practicing, particularly if you’ve been inactive or you have any health issues.
M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.