Tennis Conditioning Drills are an integral part of the game. Tennis requires a range of different skills and physical abilities in order to get to the top level. However, no matter what level you play at, it is important to do these drills in order to become a better all-round player and to improve your fitness.

Tennis is an unusual sport in that it has no set timeframe. Unlike sports such as football, rugby, hockey, a tennis player might be on court for a relatively short period of time, or hours. In the men’s game particularly it might all be over in an hour or last five hours plus!

A tennis player has to be explosive but they also have to have fantastic endurance.   

And being tennis fit is something everybody can benefit from, whether they play the sport or not. Tennis fit means great overall fitness.


As in most sports, fitness is such an important part of tennis. We have seen it time and time again that people can play great tennis for the first set but then as they get more and more tired their game deteriorates and they end up losing the match. That is why these sprinting drills are so important. Another reason why you need to do sprinting drills is to increase your speed.

Speed is something that could be the difference between winning and losing a crucial point. Players such as Rafa Nadal, have built a career and got to the highest level of the game, with speed being one of his greatest attributes.

Shuttle Sprints

For this you should set up cones in a straight line that are 16ft apart. You have to sprint to the first cone then back, to the second cone and back and so on. This is such a good exercise as it not only helps improve your endurance and speed but it also aids your footwork as you attempt to change direction to run back as fast as you can.

Ball Retrieval

This exercise is done by having many balls spread around the court but close to the net. You start at the baseline, sprint out to a ball, pick it up and sprint back to the baseline and set it down. Repeat this until all the balls on the court are gone. Again this trains your endurance, speed and footwork all in one drill.


Ladder Drills

As I have mentioned above, footwork is such a key part of tennis and there is probably no better way to train it than ladder drills. If you don’t have a rope ladder, not to worry, you can just draw one out on the ground using a piece of chalk or something similar. There are many different exercises that you can do using the rope ladder but I will just touch on the basics.

One Step

This requires putting one foot in between each rung of the ladder. You should aim to move quickly and not to touch any of the rungs on the ladder. When you get to the end, you should do a quick 3ft sprint off the end. This helps to improve your acceleration as well as your footwork.

Two Step

This involves getting both feet in between each rung of the ladder. You should try to move as quickly as possible, lifting your knees high and again not touching any of the rungs. Again, you should finish with a short sprint.


Start off facing sideways, move laterally and touch your two feet in each box. Switch which side that you do it on after each go, so that you are comfortable moving in both directions with both feet.

Strength Training

This is also a really important aspect of tennis and one of the most important tennis conditioning drills is squats.


This is a great exercise to strengthen your core and your legs at the same time as strengthening the muscles that link the two. And this is key for all tennis players.

I would suggest that you start off without using weights until you are comfortable, and when you do you should build up slowly in order to avoid injury. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, bend your knees and sit back. It is so important to keep your back straight and not to round it as this may cause injury. I suggest ensuring that you have perfect form before using weights.


These are just a few tennis conditioning drills that will help you to take your game to the next level. If you practice all of these, you will increase your speed, endurance, footwork, acceleration as well as your physical strength, all of which will improve your game and are great for your all-round fitness.

Everyone can learn a lot from tennis conditioning and everybody can benefit from being tennis fit!

Written by Patrick Roth  – Founder RadRacquets

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