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How to Practice Tennis Alone

By Michele M. Howard

It takes hours, months and sometimes years of practice, hitting the same shot over and over with the correct technique to perfect your tennis strokes. Finding a hitting partner or someone who enjoys drilling is not always easy, but don't let that stop you. It’s possible, with a few tennis training aids and devices, to improve your consistency and timing while practicing on your own.

Solo Serving

With a hopper of balls and a few small cones for targets, you can easily practice the ABC's of serving. Simply place three cones deep in each service box, one toward the outside corner near the alley, one in the middle near the service line and one toward the inside corner where the center service line and service line meet to form the letter T. Practice your wide, or "A" serve, by aiming for the cone near the alley. Serve toward the deep middle cone for the "B" serve -- the body serve. For the "C" serve, aim for the cone near the center service line, where the lines form a T.

Ball Machine Practice

Many tennis clubs and centers have ball machines available to help you practice your ground strokes, returns and volleys. Some machines can vary the velocity, spin and direction of the ball. If you're a beginner, set the machine to shoot the balls straight toward you at a comfortable speed with no spin. Work one side at a time -- forehands only and then backhands. You can also practice your volleys by simply moving closer to the machine and hitting the balls before they bounce. Advanced players can set the machine to deliver a ball with spin and more pace while varying the direction. This not only helps you practice your strokes, but can help improve your footwork and movement.

Beat the Backboard

Just like the ball machine, the backboard helps you develop muscle memory, improve your consistency and groove your strokes. A good way to practice is to give yourself a target using a few strips of painter’s tape to make the letter X or a square on the backboard. Practice sessions can be for a certain length of time or a specific number of hits. By standing about 20 to 25 feet away from the backboard, you can practice your ground strokes. For half-volleys, stand 10 to 15 feet from the wall, and to practice your volleys, move about 5 or 6 feet away from the wall. During your practice session, work one side at a time -- forehands only and then backhands.

Tennis Trainer Practice

A tennis trainer is an inexpensive device designed to help improve your hand-eye coordination and groove your ground strokes. While many brands are available, most have a tennis ball attached to one end of a long rubber band with the other end of the band attached to a heavy base, which helps keep it in place. The band stretches when you hit the ball and then retracts to return the ball to you so you can hit it again. The repetitive hitting helps improve your timing and consistency. These aids are very portable and can be used on or off the court -- on any hard surface.

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