Tennis pros such as Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are what some would call "scary good" at their game, and much of it is due to their uncanny ability to move practically anywhere on the court in what seems like an instant. While many would attribute this skill to great anticipation – and that's definitely a part of it--what often goes unnoticed is how exceptional these players are at moving their feet. Great court coverage is connected to great footwork, and if you haven't yet mastered this part of your game, you will regularly find yourself in the wrong position at the wrong time, unable to return shots due to the ball being just out of your reach. If you would like to improve your tennis footwork (and who wouldn't?), try putting these tips into practice to help you start moving like a pro on the court.
1. Add short sprints to your training regimen.
While jogging is good for building endurance, sprinting is designed to improve your speed. Try sprinting short distances in a variety of directions, similar to the types of movements you would make during a regular tennis match. Shoot for sprints that are 10-15 seconds in length, with a brief rest period between them. Keep in mind that when you're playing in a match, you are essentially performing these types of short-burst, short-distance sprints all the time, as you constantly have to accelerate to the ball from different positions.
2. Practice side shuffles.
Most tennis coaches will teach you that your main priority after returning your opponent's shot is to head back to the center of the court as fast as possible. This will keep you in a position to respond properly to the next shot, whether it lands to your right or to your left. Side shuffles are the best way to accomplish this type of lateral movement, as they allow you to remain facing your opponent while keeping your eye on the ball. One basic side shuffle drill is to start at the center mark behind the baseline, and start shuffling your feet sideways (basically like a crab) towards the sideline. Once you hit the sideline, side
3. Never stand flat-footed as you're waiting for your opponent's shot.
When you carefully watch the footwork of professional tennis players, you'll see that they never just stand there like a statue while they're waiting for their opponent to serve the ball. Instead, they try to remain in a semi-crouched position, almost like a coiled spring, because that helps them to "load" their body up for an explosive movement in the direction of the oncoming ball. The best pros typically keep their feet moving at all times, and they're already springing into action as soon as their opponent's racquet is making contact with the ball. In other words, they're not waiting for the ball to cross over the net before they start moving their feet. Instead, they enter into the "split step", which is that small
4. Keep those feet moving even after you hit the ball.
It's easy to become so enamored with your shot that you just stand there and watch it travel back over the net, but this is not the way to win tennis matches. Professional tennis players always keep their feet moving, even after they hit the ball. The key to improving your on-court mobility is to never stop moving, so keep those feet in motion both before and after your shots!
If you want to become a better tennis player, it starts with your footwork. Keep the above footwork tips in mind to help you boost your court coverage and play the game like the pros do.