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The Best Tennis Drills For Beginners (With Video)

Updated: Sep 3

Tennis is a great way to stay fit and healthy and meet new people, and it is also challenging. To play Tennis, you need to keep the tennis ball inside the tennis court, start a rally with service, and move around the court on your side of the net while attempting to hit the ball back. This all requires hand-eye coordination and some skill level.

Starting to play Tennis can be very frustrating and disheartening.

It can make you utter the phrase, "but the professionals make it look so much easier."

In today's blog, I am going to share with you 5 of the Best Tennis Drills For Beginners, and if you are a beginner player or a tennis coach, these beginner drills will make you grow in confidence and show you the best way to learn how to play the game no matter if you're an adult or have younger kids starting their tennis journey.

Fundamental Principles when coaching or learning to play Tennis

Tennis is a game of receiving and sending a tennis ball, and you have to protect your side of the court, get the ball bounce and use a tennis racket to get it back. It's a long sequence of decisions, movements and skills in a short time. Beginners and non-tennis players (and even experienced players) believe that the key to Tennis is how Nadal, Federer, Williams or Radacanu hit the ball.

This is only a tiny part of the game; believe it or not, as a vastly experienced coach, it's the LAST thing I look to correct.

To play Tennis, you need a wide range of mental, physical, tactical and technical skills. To hit the ball, we have to go through a long sequence.

  1. Ready - Get your body in an athletic-ready position (Physical and Mental)

  2. Read - See and figure out where the ball is going by watching the height, speed, spin, direction and depth of the ball (Mental)

  3. React - Move your body towards the estimated bounce of the ball (Physical)

  4. Set Up- Stop before the bounce so you can hit your next shot with balance (Physical)

  5. Contact - Hit the ball back, trying to get the ball back into an influential tactical position using Height, Speed, Spin, Direction and Depth. (Tactical and Technical Skill)

  6. Recover - Get back into a significant court position, and ready for your next shot (Physical)

You have just 1.5 seconds to perform all these steps, And then it repeats 2-6 times or more in a single point.

WOW! You can see how demanding Tennis is, and an open sport requires a wide range of skills to be performed together.

So how is the most effective way to learn or coach Tennis that hits all these key areas? Simple, play the game.

Tennis coaches and players make the mistake of breaking down the above sequence and focusing on the contact part, and they concentrate on forehand shots, topspin drills, and the ball toss or footwork drills.

The coach or player will stand in a position, hit single balls, and attempt to get the perfect technique. I see lots of exercises like this, they may improve technique in the sort terms, but once you bring the player into an open situation, it will break very quickly as the player can't cope with the randomness of the ball.

Check out my 5 most common tennis coaching mistakes, or if you need a private tennis coach, blog here.

The best tennis drills for beginners should be more open, which requires both sending and receiving skills to be used with movement. The main issue with new players is the lower skill level and lower levels of confidence, and you can help by following the framework below.

  • Space - Make the space smaller. They can have less space to cover and give them fewer options in terms of sending the ball back

  • Task - Get the players to focus on a straightforward task at a time, don't try and teach everything. Just focus on one thing, such as the height or direction of the ball.

  • Equipment - Use low compression balls, which will be slower and bounce lower, giving players time to get into position and more likely to make a cleaner contact.

  • People - Get the players to rotate around every 60-90 seconds, and this makes it very social and stops players from feeling guilty if they can't keep the ball going with a particular player.

If you follow these fundamental principles, you or your players will grow in confidence quickly.

Tennis Warm-Up Drill for Beginners

The warm-up is a vital part of the lesson or practice session. Not only do you prime your body for physical exercise and avoid injury, but it focuses the mind, clams nervous and acts as an excellent icebreaker for new players. The warm-up sets the tone, intensity and environment of the session. If you get this part right, the rest of the session will be very proactive, and progress will be made.

This is the best drill to warm your beginners up in a fun and active exercises.

Fast Feet Warrior

  1. Place the players in a box around you (coach or leader). It's vital they can see you and each other for a social aspect but also the game. Avoid lines with players side by side; it's not very welcoming and friendly. If you think about wedding tables, there is a reason why they are circular. By being in a circle or a box, in this case, you can make eye contact, see faces and hopefully have lots of smiles.

  2. The leader will call out random numbers between 1 and 3

  3. Players stand in an athletic ready position, knees bent, shoe shoulder width apart and hand up

  4. 1 - The Player will move their left foot inside the court

  5. 2 - The player will move their right foot inside the court

  6. 3 - The Player will love both feet inside the court

  7. Repeat for 30-60 seconds

Tennis Ground stroke Drills for Beginners

Head Height Tennis

One of the main bad habits of beginner tennis players as they hit the ball too low. Tennis on tv is often viewed slightly elevated behind one baseline, making the ball look like it travels very flat over the net. The reality of the game sees top players like Nadal and Williams hit the ball around 6 feet off the ground, which is double the net's height (3 feet). The height over the net gives the player a more significant margin for error and will push their opponent back behind the baseline.

A short drill gets the players to aim each basic stroke above their head height, and most players will be taller than the net. Giving the player the challenge of hitting the ball above their head will help them focus more on the process (How to do something) and less on the outcome (the result). Too often, players focus on development, i.e. getting the ball over and in, which can create additional stress and anxiety. By getting the player to focus on the process, you give the beginner something they can see and feel. If you read my blog on how players learn, you will know that most players are kinesthetic and learn by feeling.

This game below will allow the player to develop their basic strokes, become problem solvers, and develop good skills to get the ball above head height. The drills enable the players to develop both tactical skills (consistency) and technical skills (Path, Angle and Speed of the racket) in a low-pressure cooperative game. The sending and receiving nature of the drill also helps develop the mental and physical skills we discussed at the start of this blog.

  1. Get both players on either side of the net. I get them on the service line in my demo, so it's a smaller space.

  2. The players hit the ball to each other and score a point if it goes above head height.

  3. If the ball goes below head height, then they do not score.

  4. No points are won or lost if the ball goes in or out of the court.

  5. Players can hot for 60-90 secs with a partner, then rotate around

  6. Can they beat their score in the next round?

  7. You can make the game forehands only, backhands, or they can use alternative shots to help develop confidence on both sides

Tennis Serve Drills for Beginners

Rally 123

Your players are lovely and warm and have started to develop rallying skills in terms of accuracy, and we now want to increase the rally threshold (increase the number of shots). It's also vital that we include and bring in the service and return. The serve and return are the most critical shots in the game, and they start and continue the rally or point. These are often the most nerve-wracking for beginner players. The serve is a strange action, an overhead high to low movement. There are not many day-to-day actions we perform above our heads, and we spend most of modern life with our hands and eyes focused on things below our shoulders.

Too much time is spent developing the forehand stroke, and lots of drills and a basket of balls are hit from both sides (two players at the back of the court). If we introduce the serve early and allow players to practice the service inside of a fun game, we take away a lot of the pressure. Most Tennis coaches make serving highly stressful, and they get their players onto the baseline, stand next to them and ask them to serve the ball cross-court into the opposite service box while they watch. They will also overload them with lots of technical information such as different grips, the best place to toss the ball, and what the right hand is doing and ask the player to copy their advanced technique similarly.

Talk about a judgemental environment!!!

If your beginner players start just tapping or high-fiving the ball to get the rally started, you will take away all that stress and anxiety. The more players use the serve, the easier it becomes. Keep it light and make it part of the drill, not the sole focus in this next game.

  1. Players in pairs

  2. One player will start the rally with an overarm serve

  3. The players must get to a set rally target and then stop.

  4. The first target is just 1.

  5. Once they get the first ball in, the opposite player stops the ball. They then start the next rally, and they must now make 2.

  6. You continue this trend, increasing the number of each rally by 1.

  7. 120-180 secs per round, then rotate the players

  8. Can players beat their previous high score but with a new partner?

Tennis Competitions for Beginners

Tennis is a competitive sport, and players should experience playing points. The feeling of trying to win and avoid losing is part of the game we love. The common mistake is we think only advanced tennis players who have good form and can hit the ball in different directions and ball speed can play matches.

Wrong! Tennis can be played at any level and with easy tennis drills to make it fun.

Friends and Enemies

This game is a mix of cooperative play and competitive play and is a great drill and will end your lesson or practice session with a high energy level.

  1. Players in pairs

  2. One player will start the rally with an overarm serve

  3. Players must play as friends to achieve a set rally number

  4. Once they complete the set number, they play competitive and play to win

  5. The first rally number can be 2. They rally to 2 and then play the point out

  6. In the next point, the opposite player starts but the rally number increase to 3.

  7. At each point, the rally increases by one or whatever set number you or your players decide.

Conclusion for the Best Tennis Drills for Beginners

Tennis is a challenging sport but can be a fantastic amount of fun. Whether you are coaching a group of adults with frying pan grips or young kids with too much energy, use fun tennis drills like the ones above to help develop the critical mental, physical, tactical and technical skills they need. Tennis should be active and fun, with various drills delivered in a fun way.

Try the above drills out and tag me on your socials @mytenniscoaching

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Written by Steve Whelan

Steve has developed thousands of tennis players and tennis coaches over the past twenty years as a coach and educator.

Steve has over 20 million social media views in 2022 alone.

Read About Steve's impressive career here

Contact Steve direct at or

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