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How to Improve Your Reaction Time on the Tennis Court

Tennist blog pic 5Looking to improve your reaction time on the tennis court?  From drills to visualization to specialized workouts, there are plenty of ways to do it.


As a tennis player, you know that being able to move quickly is essential.  Moving from one sideline to the other demands agility and speed, and to be successful you must also have a quick reaction time. It only takes a second for the ball to get past you.

You will want to add both cardiovascular training and strength training into your workouts, but another essential way to boost your reaction time is to add specialized drills.

The Three-Ball Drill

One of the best drills to practice is the Three-Ball Drill.   This drill improves your reaction time because it helps you learn to read and respond to shots even better than you already do. Keeping good form is essential with this drill.

Have your partner stand in the middle of the tennis court, right inside the baseline.  He or she should face you, holding two tennis balls.  You will stand behind the baseline and face the net.  Have your partner feed a ball underhand to you, on one side.  Slide over to catch the ball, off just one bounce with one hand. Toss it back and go to your original position.  As you return the first ball, your partner will throw the second, but in the opposite direction. Two balls should be in motion at the same time, at all times.  Keep this up, doing about ten throws per set.  Once you get good at this, have your partner vary the location of the ball.


There are also some specialized workouts that you can do to improve your reaction time on the court.  One of those is simply running!  To get faster, at anything, you need to practice.  And quick reactions involve fast feet.  Try running in nature, because your body will have to react to unpredictable terrain while you run.  The key is to run faster and faster each time you go out.

Wall Bounces

Today you can buy something called a ‘reaction ball’ that has an odd shape and gives you an uneven bounce each and every time you bounce the ball.  Throw the ball against the wall and catch it.  Each time it bounces back, you will really have to react and pay attention in order to catch it.

Increase the velocity of your throws, and vary how close you stand to the wall to make this even more challenging.


And finally, simply visualize your success on the court. Picture yourself returning every serve, and winning the match.  Visualization exercises have been proven to increase athletes’ success in every sport, so spend a few minutes every day picturing just how quickly you will return those serves!