Footwork tends to be a training component that can be overlooked when it comes to improving your overall tennis skills. If you study a player on the court you can see that, to get from one shot to the other, whether receiving or returning, they need to have precise footwork to position themselves and hopefully make a winning shot. According to the ATP tour statistics on unforced errors, more than 70% are attributed to poor footwork.
To focus on footwork you need to stop putting to much focus on running everywhere on the court. Running is only necessary if you are a long way from the ball. Apart from this, most movements on the court are short and sharp, including shuffles, lunges, crossover steps and large and small steps.
Focusing on your footwork with these movements will help improve your flexibility, give greater variety to your game by allowing you to mix up shots and movements, and create a much stronger and more creative game plan. You will also find greater improvements with your overall agility, balance and co-ordination (all vital components of a strong tennis player).
Here are some drills to help improve footwork:
• Cone drills – This involves using very short, sharp movements. Set up 5 cones with one in the middle and the others positioned so one is in front, one is behind and the others are on either side, all about 2 metres apart. Start jogging on the spot in the middle of the cones, then sprint forward and back to the surrounding cones as fast as possible.
• Ladder – Use different variations running through an agility ladder: high knees, quick feet, bottom kicks, jumps and side-to-side movements
• Hurdles – Set hurdles up a small distance (1-2 feet) apart. Bound, jump, hop and use side-to-side movements over the hurdles.
• Short, sharp sprints
Personal trainer, Tavia Ambler