Simple Forehands & Backhands
The first two drills, if practiced frequently, will begin to develop your player’s hand-eye coordination slowly. Since they are easy to practice virtually anywhere, encourage them to practice the drills at home to improve their skills.
For this next drill, you’ll need to position your player at one end of the court at the center of the service line, where the center service line and service line connect. Have your player position themselves for either a forehand or a backhand.
You should stand slightly in front and 4-6 feet to the side of the player with a basket of balls. Before you start the drill, it can be a great time to explain the different grips and have them find one that feels natural.
While there is no perfect grip, having an understanding of the different types of tennis grips will help you understand the limitations of various grips so that you can encourage your player to use a particular style.
Next, demonstrate how you’d like them to hit their forehand. At this point, I typically avoid mention of the backswing and have the student start their racquet at about waist height to keep things simple. My main focus will usually be a strong follow-through.
Once they’re ready, toss one tennis ball at a time so that it bounces in front of the player, about waist high, and have them hit their groundstroke.
If you started with the forehand, simply switch to the opposite side, demonstrate the next stroke and proper grip, and then toss another basket of balls. Keep track of how many you can hit over the net to make a game out of it.
The great part about this drill is it takes much of the complexity out of hitting a groundstroke.
Typically, when hitting groundstrokes, you’re doing the following, all while ensuring you maintain proper form and technique.
- Moving your feet
- Tracking your opponent with your eyes
- Making a split step
- Judging ball speed, depth, and spin
- Moving forward or backward to ensure you can make contact with the tennis ball at an ideal height
That’s a lot to put together when you’re first starting. As such, this drill removes most of the complexity from hitting a groundstroke so you can focus on proper technique while keeping your student mostly stationary and making it easy for you to make contact with the ball.
A less complicated drill is important for two reasons: It will help further strengthen their hand-eye coordination, and it will also help build their confidence in making contact with the tennis ball.