Footwork is one of the most important parts of tennis. Without it, good technique becomes meaningless because your child will never be able to put themselves in a good enough position to use it. Footwork comes more naturally to some than to others, and it, unfortunately, falls to the wayside when first teaching your child how to play tennis. As humans, we can only focus on learning so much at a time and learning both technique and footwork at the same time is too much, so we break it up. But once your child starts to get the basics of their technique down you can start to introduce drills to improve their movement and footwork.
The easiest and best way to improve your child’s footwork is to incorporate it into drills on the court. Adding footwork drills will improve movement, speed, and positioning. Below are a few great drills that I like to use. You can either do these drills with your child yourself or ask your child’s coach to use them.
Forehands/Backhands Around A Cone– For Quicker Recovery
Set up a cone at the center mark on the baseline. Hand feed your child either a forehand or a backhand (pick one and stick with it). Have your child hit the feed and then recover around the cone. Slowly decrease the time between feeds to improve your child’s recovery time.
Forehands/Backhands In and Out of Circles– For Better Movement To Balls
Set up 2 to 4 circles near the center hash on the baseline. Have your child put their feet into the first circle (one at a time) then have them bring their feet out of the ladder (one at a time) then repeat this for the rest of the circles. It is important to note that their leading foot should go into the circle first. Once your child is at the last circle feed them a ball in the direction they are moving. Doing this will help improve movement and foot speed when setting up for a ball.
Volleys Off A Chair– For Better Split Steps
Have your child sit in a chair around the service line. Feed the ball randomly to their forehand or backhand, as you go to feed the ball to your child, have them come out of the chair into their split step. This will help improve their split step by forcing them to get wide and low.
While working on a court your child can accomplish a lot but, we can’t always be on one. Luckily there are things that your child can do off the court to improve their footwork. One of the best ways to do this is by having your child do ladder drills. Here are a few of my favorite.
- Start with the right foot in the ladder and the left foot out of it.
- Move the left foot into the ladder.
- Move the right foot out.
- Move the left foot up
- Then Move the right foot in
- Move the left foot out
- Lastly, move the right foot up and then repeat the pattern until they are done with the ladder.
Single Foot Shuffle
- Start with the left foot in the ladder and the right foot out.
- Only one foot will be going in and out of the ladder in this drill.
- First, bring the left foot out of the ladder.
- Then, move the right foot parallel to the next rung.
- Then, put the left foot back into the ladder on the next rung.
- Repeat until finished with the ladder and then do it with the other foot.
- Start with both feet outside the first rung of the ladder.
- While staying as low as possible, hop and bring both feet inside the first rung.
- Then hop and bring both feet outside the ladder.
- Then hop and bring both feet inside the next rung.
- Repeat until done with the ladder.
With these drills, you should start to see your child naturally move their feet more over time. If you enjoyed the ladder drills they have a bunch of great ones over at King Sports Traning in their speed and agility ladder post here!
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