As tennis players, we can agree that probably the best tennis partner is the mighty wall. This emotionless partner never misses and will force you to hit the ball again and again until it drains your energy. And although there are many advantages of hitting against the wall, there are certain aspects of your tennis game you are better off practicing on the court with a real person.
Practicing Against a Tennis Wall
|High-quality stroke repetition
|No sense of shots depth
|Improve muscle memory
|Little feedback on ball placement
|Improve consistency & control
|Can potentially develop bad habits
|Predictability of the ball flight
|The ball bounces back too low
|Helps improve decision-making skills
|Might get used to the same rhythm
|Limited practice on returning topspin shots
|Doesn’t require players to move their feet
|Can practice every stroke
|The ball comes back too fast
|No need for a partner
|Minimum evidence of bad technique
|No need for a court
|Might get boring
|Can be used for warm-up
|No match play experience
Continue reading to find out more about the benefits and drawbacks of those intense tennis sessions against the wall!
1. High-quality stroke repetitions (Proper Technique).
Hitting against the wall allows you to work on technique and proper form. Since you are in control of your training session, you can choose to work on a specific stroke for the time you see necessary.
When looking to improve your technique, it’s recommended that you hit the ball on the second bounce, so you get a more realistic time between shots that allows you to set up correctly.
2. Improves muscle memory.
Since you are able to work on proper technique consistently, eventually you’ll develop better muscle memory and habits on your strokes. This is another significant advantage of hitting against the wall because, as we know, proper muscle memory is critical to be a good tennis player.
3. Improves consistency & control.
When practicing against the wall, it requires you to be consistent with your shots. There are different drills you can work on the wall that require substantial control and consistency.
For example, a consistency drill can be:
- Hitting a forehand down the line (straight)
- Hitting a forehand crosscourt
- Hitting a backhand down the line (straight)
- Hitting a backhand crosscourt
Another drill is to, simply, hit the ball, so it comes back at you, which seems easy, however, it requires a lot of concentration and control.
4. Practice footwork.
If you’re looking to work on your footwork while hitting balls, as an alternative to doing off court exercises, hitting against the wall can be a great option.
Since the time between shots is less than when hitting on the court, it forces you to move and set up faster, so you can meet the ball on time. In fact, if done properly, hitting, for the same amount of time, against the wall can be more exhausting and intense the hitting on the court with a partner.
5. Improve timing.
Giving that it provides you with constant stroke repetitions, hitting against the wall will help you to improve your sense of timing when contacting the ball. As a result, you’ll be able to hit smoothly and with more precision.
Also, if you had a long break from tennis, hitting on the wall is a great way to get your timing back and get you ready for the tennis court.
6. Helps improve decision-making skills.
One of the main objectives when hitting against the wall is to keep the rally going. As a result, this forces players to make quick decisions to control and place the ball. Players need to think about where they’ll hit the ball, so it bounces back close to them; otherwise, they’ll be chasing the ball all over the place.
7. Improve reflexes.
Working the wall is a great way to improve your reaction time and reflexes, which as tennis players, is an essential skill to have on the court.
A way to work on your reflexes is by getting close to the wall (around 5 to 7 feet) and practice your volleys. Given that the ball will come back fast, it’ll force you to react quicker, developing better reflexes over time.
As you probably know tennis can be an expensive sport, from club membership fees to the cost of private lessons. So the wall is an excellent way to practice your tennis game while keeping your costs low. In fact, you can literally practice against the wall for free, you just need to find a wall that you can practice on. For example, the side wall of a building or a house, or even your garage wall.
9. Can practice every stroke.
When practicing against the wall, you can literally work on every stroke, from regular groundstrokes to overheads. Unlike when hitting against someone, when hitting against the wall, you can practice on a specific stroke for the time you see appropriate.
So, if your volleys are one your weakness, you can practice just volleys. As a result, you have the chance to improve your game in different areas and become an all-around player. In addition, you can experiment with new strokes, grips, and technique.
10. No need for a partner.
Have you ever seen those boards at the tennis clubs, where players post notes looking for someone to hit with? As you probably know, it’s not easy to find a tennis partner who has a similar level as your with a coinciding schedule.
Now, we the help of the internet, it’s much easier to find a partner to hit with; however, you still depend on another person to play tennis. On the other hand, when hitting against the wall, you can literally do it whenever you feel like, without worrying about finding a partner.
11. No need for a court.
Although many backboards are next to tennis courts, you can use any wall that has enough space and room around. For example, the sidewalls of a building, house, or parking lot. Also, I know of people who use an empty room to hit against the wall.
If you live in cold areas, you know how expensive and inconvenient can be to book an indoor court. As a result, having the option to practice your tennis game without the need of a court, is a significant advantage.
12. Can be used for warm-up.
Hitting against the wall is, also, great to warm up before your tennis match. Since you can practice every stroke, you can have full warm up of your game, including your footwork.
1. No sense of shots depth.
A common drawback that most players agree of hitting against the wall is that you don’t get a sense of the depth of your shots. As a result, you don’t have a good idea of where your shots will be landing on the other side of the court.
It might be that you’re hitting too hard without even realizing, only to find on the court, when all your shots are hitting the fences. Besides, since working the wall stimulates your muscle memory, you might develop the bad habit of over swinging on your groundstrokes.
2. Little feedback on ball placement.
Although you can work on directing the ball to a certain degree, you have a very vague sense of where you’ll be placing the ball; especially when trying to work on angle shots.A way to work around this, to some extent, is to put targets on the wall, which will help to work on your accuracy. To do the targets you can use masking tape or chalk.
Also, players can use as a reference where the ball is bouncing back to see more or less where their shots will be going. In other words, when hitting the ball against the wall, it’ll bounce back at an angle that mirrors, to some degree, your previous shot.
3. Can potentially develop bad habits.
Hitting against the wall provides a lot of stroke repetition, however, if players don’t pay attention to proper technique and form, they might develop inappropriate habits. It’s important for players to remember that muscle memory doesn’t discriminate between correct and incorrect technique.
If you practice with poor technique, you’ll develop poor muscle memory for your tennis game.
4. Predictability of the ball flight.
When hitting against the wall, it’s easy to predict where the ball will bounce back, unlike a tennis match, where you don’t really know where your opponent will hit the ball or what type of shot he’ll hit.
Even though you can predict, where the ball is bouncing it doesn’t mean that you don’t need to move your feet. Besides, you can work the wall with specific drills that require you to move your feet continually.
5.The ball bounces back too low.
I heard some players complaining that when hitting against the wall, the ball tends to come back to low, making it hard for them to work on proper technique and form. Personally, I don’t find this a problem because I tend to practice by hitting high over the “net” line which gives me back high enough shots to hit.
However, if you have this issue, know that nowadays it’s more common to find backboards or walls that are tilted, making the ball bounce back more realistic and higher.
6. Might get used to the same rhythm.
For club players, hitting too often on the wall without practicing as much on the court, can over accustom them to only a few types of shots Which in these days, is not ideal given that players tend to have a more diverse game style.
When practicing on the wall, try to hit different types of shots, at different speeds and height, so you can practice your timing more realistically.
7. Limited practice on returning topspin shots.
Another drawback is that is very rare to hit against the wall and get back topspin shots like a real opponent will hit on the court. Nowadays, most players hit with topspin, so it’s essential for players to be used to hitting those kinds of shots back.
8. Doesn’t require players to move their feet.
I’ve seen, many times, club players practicing on the wall while barely moving, and hitting the ball on the 2nd or 3rd bounce. Players will hit the ball, so it bounces back right at them, allowing them to stand on the same place. And although is mostly the players’ fault, hitting against the wall can cause players to develop “lazy feet.”
Therefore, when hitting against the wall, it’s essential for players to have a goal in mind that’ll help them improve their game, so they don’t develop the wrong habits.
9. The ball comes back too fast.
I heard beginner, and intermediate players complained about how fast the ball comes back at them, given them no chance to set up and do proper form and swings. Nevertheless, as many wall players veterans know, the trick is in letting the ball bounce twice, instead of one. This gives better opportunity to work on technique and, also provides with a more realistic time between shots.
10. Minimum evidence of bad technique.
When you hit on the court against another player, most of the time, you can tell if your stroke technique was a good or not, due to the flight of the ball, and where and how the ball landed.
However, when hitting against the wall, there is very little visual evidence of inappropriate or wrong technique, which makes beginner and intermediate players vulnerable to develop bad form and habits.
11. Might get boring.
Another complaint about hitting against the wall is that it can get too repetitive and boring. Two common reasons for players to feel this way are: either they are practicing for too long, or they are practicing with no purpose and objective. When this happens, I usually advise players to get creative and work on specific strokes with a goal in mind.
12. No match play experience.
Although this one might be obvious, I thought it was important to point it out. Some players believe that by spending a lot of time practicing against the wall and little time on the court, they’ll be able to perform well on their matches. However, we know that practicing your strokes on the wall is very different from playing points and an actual game, especially with the pressure added.
Hitting on the wall should be complementary to your tennis practice. For those tennis wall fans, make sure that you guys get enough time on the court as well.
Clips on practicing against the wall
These are three of the best videos I found on hitting against the wall.
Simon from Top Tennis Training shows different ways to practice against the wall, from forehands and backhands to overheads.
In this clip, Ian from Essential Tennis shares with us three important tips when practicing against the wall: (1) Have targets (2) Pick a number of bounces (3) Have a goal.
Coach Mauro from TheTennisVault shares unique tips on how to work the wall.
Don’t have access to a tennis wall?
If you don’t have access to a tennis wall there are many other options to practice your tennis solo; here are some ideas:
- Portable Backboards
- The sidewall of a building or a house.
- Any wall that has enough room around it
- Ball machine
- Self-hand feeding (ball drop)
- Tennis trainers (like the eye coach)
To find out more on how can you practice tennis by yourself, check the following article: “Ways to practice tennis by yourself.”
*Please let us know your ideas on practicing tennis by yourself on the comment sections
Want to practice at home, but don’t have enough space to hit against the wall?
If you’ll like to practice at home against the wall, but you are short on space, I might have an alternative that could work for you. Again, this by no means should replace practicing tennis on the court, but instead should be used complementary to your tennis practices.
So, what can you do if you don’t have enough space at home? Instead of using a regular ball, you should use a foam ball, and instead of using a regular racquet, you should use a small size racquet (around 23 inches). The combination of the foam ball and the small racquet will allow you to hit against most walls in your house, as long as you can make some space for you to move around and hit the foam ball. Since the foam ball travels with approximately 75% less speed than a regular ball, it’ll allow you to hit in small spaces at home.
If you’re interested in finding more about how can you work the wall in small areas at home, check the following article “How to Practice Tennis Without a Court”
All things considered …
Hitting against the wall, when done properly, can be very beneficial for your tennis game. And although it has many benefits, the wall should be used as a complement to your tennis practices. It’s important to get a fair amount of practice on the court because, at the end of the day, when you play a tennis match, you’ll be playing on a tennis court.
Remember that is essential to have a goal on what you want to work when practicing on the wall. Be disciplined and stay focus on your objectives so you can reap the benefits of practicing against the wall.
If you have other ideas on the benefits or drawbacks of hitting against the wall, please share them with us on the comment section. Also, if you don’t agree with the information presented, please let us know your thoughts; we’re always open to new ideas!
Can hitting against the wall make you a worse tennis player?
- Hitting against the wall can have an adverse effect on your tennis game if you don’t practice appropriately. If you don’t pay attention to your technique while hitting against the wall, or just focus on hitting the ball too hard, you could potentially develop bad habits that will be detrimental to your tennis game.
Is it common for tennis pros to have practiced against the wall as kids?
- Yes, most tennis pros have practiced against the wall at least once in their life, especially early in their tennis careers. According to OnCourt OffCourt, a tennis training company, approximately 75% of all tennis professionals had practiced against the wall or backboard when they were younger.