By Luke Jensen, French Open Doubles Champion
I am often asked what is the best way to improve in tennis. There are many aspects of a growing and developing game. The ability to be consistent is always essential. The work done on your shot placement can give your game a boost, as well as adding some pop to your game with added swing speed.
One area that I found throughout my tennis life was that you can become a better player by becoming a quicker player. Even in the doubles game, fast movements in all directions can be a massive difference-maker. In singles, points are longer and there is more court coverage required. The footwork in both singles and doubles can be the difference in reaching the next level of your tennis potential.
Whenever I felt my game was in a slump, I would map out a footwork routine that would give me more of an explosive first step. Tennis is a series of sprints over a long period of time. I would first go to work on the jump rope. This simple old school approach builds the calf muscles and revs up my footwork. I use the jump rope in 30-second intervals. These can be longer or shorter to fit your starting point but 30 seconds of jumping followed by 30 seconds of rest for 15 minutes is a solid place to start. Increase the time to one minute of jumping with 30 seconds of rest as you progress. When I was playing I would go for 30 minutes with this approach and keep track of my progress.
I also would run the stairs for another explosive first step footwork drill. Be careful not to overdo this because the constant pounding can be tough on your joints. My stair routine was based on a fast burst of speed up the stairs then walk down. I focused my speed work on intensity and not longevity of the workout.
Finally, there is nothing better than running the lines on the tennis court. The court is perfect to construct a number of speed routines that fit the distance you will need to chase down a running backhand or a quick volley. From side to side and all the way up and back for overheads, running the lines on the tennis court can give you that next step toward success.
Even if your footwork drills go 15 minutes, I promise you will see the results right away. To get some really good hints on how to improve your speed, go online and find an approach that works for you. These days there is great advice online and even speed camps that you can attend to improve your athletic ability.
I hope your next step on the tennis court is a fast one!