How to Practice Tennis By Yourself: 8 Ways to Train Alone

Practicing tennis has incredible health benefits. Studies have shown that people who practice the popular sport had a 56% lower risk of dying of heart disease or a stroke. 

Practicing tennis at home or on your own can be a great way to boost your health when you can’t hit the court. Here’s how to practice tennis by yourself!

1. Practice Your Serving Drills Solo

In general, a serve is the starting point for every tennis match. You toss the ball into the air and hit it to your opponent with a racquet. 

The serve is a vital part of playing the sport. The more you practice on your serves, the greater the chance you can weaken your opponent’s return.

You can track the serves that you make or miss by keeping score. For example, add a point for making successful serves, and deduct one point if you hit a fault or two points for a double fault. Both a fault and a double fault are unsuccessful serves where the ball does not land in the opponent’s service box.

Use cones, saucers, or painter’s tape to section off areas of the service box that you want to target.

Here are some of the following tennis serves that you can practice:

  • Flat: Ball is hit straight through with a racquet. The flat is the first serve that tennis players learn. 
  • Slice: The ball is thrown slightly to the right (or left if you’re left-handed), and the player hits it at the 3:00 position. 
  • Reverse Slice: Player’s racquet arm is pronated, and the racquet is swung across the player’s body to hit the ball. 
  • Kick: This is a type of serve that players use for the second serve. The player first tosses the ball up over his/her head, then the racquet grazes up and through it from approximately a 7:00 to 1:00 position. 
  • Underspin: Beginners use this serve. The ball rotates backward.
  • Topspin: The back of the ball brushes against the strings at an angle between 7:00 and 1:00. In a topspin, the ball rotates forward.
  • Pat-a-cake: Used by beginners, you do not swing the racquet behind the head.

2. Improve Your Footwork Skills

One of the simplest ways of how you can practice tennis alone involves your footwork. Tennis requires constant movement. Therefore, how you move about on the court is an essential factor in striking a tennis ball. Practicing your footwork will provide the following benefits:

  • Footwork can help you to recover quickly.
  • You can hit the ball early.
  • It will prepare you for the next shot.
  • You will become accurate in hitting the ball.
  • Your movement on the tennis court will improve.
  • It will prevent you from making errors on returning the ball.
  • You get a wider variety of shot options.
  • It will allow you to play for long points.

Running line drills are great for improving your speed, and they make great warm-up exercises. You can do the following running drills to help you with playing tennis:

  • Shuffling
  • Backpedaling
  • Sidestepping
  • Sprinting
  • Stopping

To improve your endurance, try doing long-distance running. Good footwork will give you the speed that you need to play tennis like a professional. You will also achieve a better balance. 

3. Work on Your Self-Feeding Drills

Self-feeding drills are great for players at any skill level. All you need to do is let the ball bounce once on the ground and hit the ball to where you want it to go. Self-feeding drills can help you improve on various tennis shots. The key to this practice is to focus on the target areas you want the ball to go. 

A great idea for practicing your self-feeding exercises is to use cones, tape, or discs to create different targets to aim at. 

4. Use a Ball Machine for Practicing

tennis ball machine

If you want to know how to get better at tennis, this is the answer. Ball machines are an efficient way to practice tennis alone because you can use a wide range of skills and practice every aspect of the game. You can also get more consistent shots with a ball machine than with a trainer or a coach. 

One of the main downfalls that come with practicing with a tennis ball machine is the price. Tennis ball machines are costly. However, it will be cheaper to rent or borrow a ball machine from a sporting goods store or a facility. When looking for a good tennis ball machine, here are some factors to consider:

  • Ball speed: Look for a machine with a minimum speed of 20 mph and the maximum speed of 60 mph for beginners and 80 mph for intermediate.
  • Spin: A ball machine with a spin feature will apply topspin and backspin, which will allow you to practice different ranges of strokes. 
  • Capacity: The best capacity range for a tennis ball machine is between 120-200 balls.
  • Feed rate: Look for a model that launches a ball from every 1 to 12 seconds. You can adjust the feed rate to any intensity that you want. 
  • Random swinging: Search for a ball machine that will throw in various directions. 
  • Weight: The best models weigh between 34-50 pounds.
  • Portability: Look for models with wheels for easy portability.
  • Remote control: Find a ball machine with a remote control. Remote controls provide convenience by eliminating the need for another person to operate the machine. 
  • Power supply: Most ball machines come with rechargeable batteries, and they can last from two to eight hours. 
  • Programmability: Look for a model that provides different modules that help you with your tennis skills.

If you are thinking about purchasing or renting a ball machine, check out the Spinshot Player, one of the best tennis ball machines you can get. It allows you to customize your practice. There’s even a compatible smartphone app that will enable you to set and control the ball machine from a distance. 

Make sure that you also invest in a tennis ball hopper. After a long and hard day of practice, you don’t want to put more strain on your body. A tennis ball hopper can help you pick up tennis balls quicker and with convenience. 

Shop for a tennis ball hopper that is lightweight and easy to assemble. Choose ball hoppers with long adjustable handles to prevent yourself from bending over. Check out a tennis ball hopper to make your solo practice easier and more enjoyable.

5. Use a Wall or Backboard to Practice On

If you want to improve your strokes but don’t know how to practice tennis by yourself at home, practicing on a wall or a backboard is a great way to hone your skills. 

With a wall or a backboard, you can always aim at the desired target. Practicing with a backboard or a wall can also help you challenge tough opponents and improve your muscle strength. 

The best part about using a wall or backboard for practice is that it’s free. Look for a tennis court with a backboard, or you can purchase a backboard online or from a sporting goods store.

Another option is to find a building that has an area with a concrete or asphalt floor and no nearby windows. You can also go to an indoor gym with a racquetball court or a wooden floor for practice.

6. Practice Shadow Swings

Shadow swinging is practicing your swings without a tennis ball. This exercise might seem useless, but it will keep you focused on your swinging technique and how you hold a racquet. Even though a few tennis players practice shadow swinging, you obtain the following benefits:

  • The time to make a stroke quickens
  • Strengthens the muscles and improves muscle memory 
  • Enhances eye-hand coordination
  • Learn how to get comfortable with the speed of the swing
  • Improves the timing of the swing
  • Builds arm muscles that are needed to swing the racquet correctly
  • Corrects the racquet face angle 
  • Makes the swing an immediate reaction

7. Bounce a Ball on the Racquet

Cute female child in sportswear playing tennis and smiling while standing against gray background

Bouncing a ball on top of a racquet is a great practice drill for tennis players who are just starting to learn the sport—bouncing a ball on a racquet is known as the frying pan method because you hold the tennis racquet like a frying pan. You place the ball on top of the racquet, and you steadily bounce it on top of the racquet. 

The frying pan method helps you improve your hand-eye coordination.  

8. Study Professional Tennis Players

Watching and studying professional tennis players doesn’t require any physical activity, but it will provide you with visual information about improving your serves, strokes, and footwork skills. 

A great thing about studying professional tennis players such as Serena Williams, Rafel Nadal, or Naomi Osaka is that you can copy their techniques, which shortens your time doing practice. Check out YouTube videos for even more tips (some from the pros) on how to practice tennis alone.