30-Second Hit and Recover Drill
An excellent way to improve your players’ conditioning while simultaneously working on racquet skills and body balance is the 30-Second Hit and Recover drill.
This drill requires players to run down a simulated drop shot and to play the ball short crosscourt into the opposite service box, recovering back to the starting position and to keep repeating this for 30 seconds. This grueling drill promotes racquet control, footwork and body balance under tiring conditions.
Wait…it only takes 30 seconds and it’s greuling? You will be very surprised at how tough this is the first time you do it! Like other in-season conditioning drills, it is done with a realistic (1:3) work/rest ratio to mirror the conditions of a tennis match.
Step #1 — The feeder kneels down directly in front of the center strap at the net, with a basket of balls to his left of right.
Step #2 — Players line up in a single file line, behind the first player, who stands at “T” where the two service boxes meet.
Step #3 — Using his hand, the feeder tosse a high, very short ball which requires the player doing the drill to run several steps forward in order to play the ball. The ball toss should only be one- to two-feet in front of the feeder, requiring the player to make a hard effort to get to it.
Step #4 — The player must run to the ball, then hit it softly over the net into the crosscourt service box, recovering to his or her starting point. The player should play the ball with good form and control it into the opposite/crosscourt service box, using good balance on the way in and during the backward recovery.
Step #5 — As soon as the player recovers and is on balance, the feeder tosses the next ball to the opposite side, alternating between forehands and backhands for 30 seconds. The feeder should toss as soon as the player recovers to the “T” each time on balance, making the drill non-stop and challenging. Players must try to get to each ball and successfully play it, under control, into the opposite service box. Players should be panting hard after 30 seconds.
Step # 6 — The next player in line does the drill, while the first player recovers. This is a drill for four players, which allows each player to work for one part of the drill and recover for three parts of the drill, creating an appropriate 1:3 work/rest ratio for a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) drill.
Step #7 — Each player does the drill three times.
NOTE: This drill should be done after practice and before final stretching and cooldown as part of a daily conditioning plan.This drill can be very tough on the knees of the feeder, so have your players who are feeding kneel on a t-shirt or towel and rotate frequently.