Tennis Footwork Drill to Strengthen Your Hips

Tennis is a sport of strategy, technique, movement, physicality and mental toughness. Your body needs to be strong and balanced to endure the tough demands of tennis.

The goal is to start, stop and change the directions, all in a rapid and unpredictable manner. You need to have strong hips and core to do this. If you have weaknesses, you will be prone to overuse injuries, and you won't perform at your maximum potential.

The hips are the powerhouse of your movement. When they don't function correctly, other muscle groups need to compensate. The smaller compensating muscles are not structured for that kind of load, so they can get overloaded, tight, short and possibly injured.

Training your hips on a regular basis is important if you want to be a solid player. Develop a balanced strength and flexibility: both front and back, and left and right.

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This exercise covers all the necessary elements and is easy enough to perform anywhere. While it is intense, you will quickly get great results by adding it to your routine.

Step 1: Stand on the doubles line with feet hip-width apart or just wider. Stand wider than you usually would so you develop the feeling of how it feels to have a wide stance. (Many tennis players generally don't stand wide enough, unless you are Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic.)

Step 2: Load your legs and hips, and jump explosively forward aiming to land on the singles sideline. Make the landing soft and quiet. Use your muscles to take all the forces from the ground, not your joints and flat feet.

You should land on the heel or whole foot so you can fire the glutes and the posterior chain. If you have a tendency to land on your toes (and feel it too much in your knees and quadriceps), work consciously on landing on the heel or whole foot until you land softly and quietly.

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Step 3: Immediately start shuffling your feet and backpedalling in small, tiny quick steps. Take at least five to six steps before you get back to the doubles line. (The more steps the better.) You want to remain balanced during the entire movement. Make sure you always explode off both of your feet and land on both simultaneously. If you have weaknesses, your body will want to compensate and prioritize one leg over the other.

Step 4: Jump forward again. Repeat.

Your goal is to do this exercise strongly for a whole minute. In the beginning, you may be able to do this for only 30 seconds. Repeat 30 seconds four to eight times, with short breaks in between. When you become stronger and have more endurance, aim for doing an entire minute. If you can do this exercise for one, whole minute, you will be confident that no direction change on the court, even a super far one, will make you tired.

To intensify your training, do a plank for one minute instead of resting in between sets.

Add this training into your fitness regiment a few times a week, and see how much better and faster you will move on the tennis court. You will quickly be able to hit balls that used to be a struggle.

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About the Author

Suzanna McGee

Suzanna McGee is a Ms. Natural Olympia bodybuilding champion and athletic trainer with a focus on sport conditioning and injury prevention. Visit to learn more.
Suzanna McGee is a Ms. Natural Olympia bodybuilding champion and athletic trainer with a focus on sport conditioning and injury prevention. Visit to learn more.

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