Tennis Wall Drills

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Tennis wall

When practising against the wall, the ball comes back to you sooner than it would against a human player on the other side of a net, and you have to maintain control continuously. You can practice on your own when your usual sparring partners are not available.

This page includes a set of wall drills you can try, and links to discussion and other resources for improving your tennis.

Feel free to improve this page, and to add and edit the resources you find.


This "course" assumes you have a suitable tennis racquet, know how to hold it for the various basic strokes and how to execute them.

Note: some tennis coaches may advise you not to practice against the wall as "you may develop bad habits which will be difficult to unprogram". Others might recommend wall practice in conjunction with other forms of practice and coaching, as it is an efficient way to develop hand-eye (racquet/ball) coordination, concentration, control, etc.. Consult your coach (or a few coaches) on this and adapt the following in a way that makes sense for you.

Guiding Principles

  • Adapt the drills to suit your height, ability, strength, stamina, attention span and what you feel you need to work on
    • never overdo it
      • start with no more than 5 minutes on each drill and a total time of no more than 30 minutes.
  • Variation: practice a variety of strokes in any session: backhands, forehands, volleys, near the wall, further from the wall, etc.
    • to reduce the risk of over-use injury,
    • exercise different muscles, and
    • prepare you for games which will require a variety of shots from all over the court.
    • Vary the order of the drills presented here and mix among sets.
  • Wall practice is just one component of your tennis experience
    • also, practice with a partner, play social tennis, mini-tennis, club tennis, tournaments, work on other areas of your fitness (e.g. speed, strength, flexibility), find a coach you can work with, learn about tactics, temperament, watch the pros, ....
  • Enjoy the activity, have fun.
  • Start slowly with a low intensity drill and warm up first.
  • Watch the ball, see the seams, focus on which part of the ball you want to hit (given the required direction and spin).
  • Fluid motion.
  • Timing.
  • Footwork.
  • For drills where the ball bounces and you are within 12m of the wall (net), try to connect with the ball on the rise at an optimal height for you (waist height and slightly in front of you).
  • The distances from the wall are a rough guide. Adjust as required for your own stature.
  • If at any time you experience pain (e.g. in the elbow, wrist, shoulder, knee, etc.), stop doing the drills and see a physiotherapist. When you are ready to start the drills again, build up more gradually and ask a coach/physiotherapist/etc. to check your strokes or identify other possible causes.

The drills are presented in a suggested order which helps you warm up and "get your eye in". Remember to vary the order. Suggest variations on the discussion page or by adding alternative sessions below.

Suggested time: 5 minutes on each drill, do 6 drills in each session (30 minutes in all per day).

Work up to 10 minutes on each drill to get a full 1 hour session (e.g. step up to 7 minutes on each drill for a 42 minute session, etc.).

"Mini-tennis" Drives and Volleys (30 minutes)

The first three are low intensity but good for concentration. The volleys can be quite intense.

Short drives

alternating forehands, backhands (3-4m, 5mins)

Stand 3 - 4 metres from the wall and softly hit a forehand to your backhand to your forehand, etc. Almost no backswing.

forehands (3-4m, 5mins)

Continue but forehands only.

backhands (3-4m, 5mins)

Continue but backhands only.


These tend to be low volleys, the type you get when charging the net in doubles. Keep your centre of gravity low (bend your knees).

alternating forehands, backhands (3m, 5mins)

Stand about 3 meters from the wall and volley from backhand to forehand to backhand ....

backhand volleys (3m, 5mins)

Continue but backhands only.

forehand volleys (3m, 5mins)

Continue but forehands only.

Medium Drives, Close Volleys (30 minutes)

The drives are moderately low intensity and good for concentration. The close volleys are also low intensity but require very quick reflexes and may tire the wrist muscles quickly, so consider interspersing volleys with drives on alternative sides, and shortening the volley drills to 2.5 minutes until you get stronger.

Medium drives

alternating forehands, backhands (10m, 5mins)

Stand about 10 metres from the wall and hit a forehand to your backhand to your forehand, etc. hard enough and high enough for one bounce. No spin or slight top-spin (especially no backspin/slice, practice spins separately later). Short (not full) backswing.

forehands (10m, 5mins)

Continue but forehands only.

backhands (10m, 5mins)

Continue but backhands only.

Close Volleys

Stand with your racquet head in front of you, facing the wall, racquet head within 0.5m of the wall. The aim is to keep the ball going. No backswing, hit softly but firmly. Quick reactions required. Keep facing the wall. When you actually hit the ball it should be closer to the wall than you are.

forehand volleys (1m, 2.5mins)

Forehand to forehand.

backhand volleys (1m, 2.5mins)

Backhand to backhand.

repeat the above two (forehand and backhand close volleys)

Rest, stretch and massage your wrist etc.. If wrist tired, do a different drill for a while or stop for today. Otherwise, repeat the close forehand and backhand volleys above.

alternating forehands, backhands (3m, 5mins)

Rest, stretch and massage your wrist etc.. If wrist tired, do a different drill. Otherwise, continue volleying close to the wall alternating forehands and backhands. You may need to move a bit further away from the wall (e.g. up to 2m) for more time to prepare for the strokes on either side.

Drives varying distance and spin

Varying distance


Start close to the wall (2m) with a very soft drive to your forehand with no backswing, keep the ball going and gradually move back hitting slightly harder always to the forehand, always one bounce, until you are hitting a full depth baseline forehand with a fill swing. Then start moving closer to the wall until you are back where you started, and start moving back again. Hit the ball with no spin, or slight topspin.


As for forehands but on the backhand.

Alternate forehand, backhand

As for forehands except alternating (i.e. hit cross-court).

3 Spins

The 3 spins are flat, topspin and slice.

The flat shot will clear the net lowest (e.g. 60cm), the topspin highest (e.g. 2.4m) and slice in between (e.g. 1.6m).

An alternative to the pattern below is to do 5 flat, 5 topspin and 5 slice shots.

Forehand (12m, 5mins)

Start the rally with a deep drive, then:

One flat, one topsin, one slice, put the ball back in play (catch the ball and restart the rally if necessary), flat, topspin, slice, ...

Backhand (12m, 5mins)

As for forehands but on the backhand.

Alternating (12m, 5mins)

As for forehands but alternating: 3 forehands, 3 backhands, 3 forehands, etc..


The above indicates a sort of pattern you may adapt. Additional drills to mix in include:

  • hard drives (backhands, forehands, alternating)
  • volleys varying height from well below the net level to upper edge of the wall (volley lob) and back down
  • volleys varying distance from the wall
  • volley along the wall (forehands moving towards the right, forehands moving left, backhands moving left, backhands moving right)
  • for all volleys, face the wall and hit with slight underspin, agile footwork
  • half-volleys
  • drive volleys - practice drives without letting the ball bounce - swing slightly abbreviated - can be intense!
  • smash: start about 3 metres from the wall and overhead smash the ball down (not hard at first) to bounce just before the wall (imagine the net just in front of you) and bounce up for your next smash (keep smashing), point at the ball with your other hand for as long as possible. Agile footwork.
    • alternatively, give yourself a lob as above and smash over the net (catch ball, and do another, one at a time)
    • backhand side - "backhand overheads" - a difficult shot (Roger Federer does it really well :-)
  • serve:
    • against the fence practising the spins - flat (toss straight up), slice (toss right if right handed, left if left handed), topspin (toss over to the left if right handed, over to the right if left handed) - not hard, just play with the spin
    • against the wall: shorten the swing
    • practice from a step inside the service line and spin at targets on the court - use a box of 30+ balls and/or practice with a friend
    • move further back until doing proper serves aiming at targets on the court, full swing.
    • In time one learns to combine spin with power, accuracy and disguise.
  • Catching the ball with the racquet (both sides) - hit a ball up and catch it on your racquet.

Additional Notes

  • Match play
    • Three faults, worst first:
      1. hitting into the net
      2. hitting out the sides
      3. hitting too long
    • In matches think of nothing except winning the point, i.e. the ball and target areas. do not think of strokes.
  • Invent drills and sessions of your own...

Comments, Links and other ideas


The original version of this page was based on principles learned at a tennis camp in South Africa led by Jaroslav Houba, former National Coach of Czechoslovakia.