Tennis Fitness - Focus on the Footwork

Are you looking to improve your tennis game?  Whether you’re a beginner player or an aspiring professional, footwork is the most overlooked aspect of the game.  Everything in tennis starts with the feet and excellent footwork can be the key to becoming a better tennis player.  Footwork prepares you for a shot, allowing you to get into position to follow through with that beautiful form and technique you’ve worked so hard on!  

Basic Footwork Moves

Great footwork on the court is quiet and efficient while also being smooth and explosive.  When you move efficiently you will save your energy by not having to run as much as you would with noisy, inefficient steps.  Many players rely on running as their main method of tennis footwork training. While running is a great exercise to help develop endurance, it does not improve  all skills needed to be a better player. Sprinting, split steps, and shuffle steps are the basic footwork mechanisms in tennis. These skills will help to train a player for the unique movements needed on the court.  


Sprinting is designed to improve your actual speed.  When sprinting, you want to go short distances in a variety of directions.  This will be similar to movements needed during a regular tennis match. Ideally your sprints should last 10-15 seconds, allowing for a brief rest period between them.  These types of short-burst, short-distance sprints will be performed all the time when you’re playing in a match, allowing you to accelerate to the ball from different positions.  

Split Steps 

The split step is a fundamental step for all tennis players.  It is important for players to master this skill so that it can be used often during a match.  The split step is often used when beginning a dynamic movement, like returning serve or preparing to move to hit a groundstroke.  The player will push up off the toes, jumping a few inches into the air and moving deliberately towards the direction of the ball.  

Shuffle Steps

The side shuffle is an important footwork skill because it allows you to move in one direction but also gives you the ability to change direction quickly.  This is key to your tennis game because you do not always know which direction your opponent will hit the ball. The side shuffle will allow you to move back to the middle of the court, cutting down on the amount of open court your opponent has to hit into.  However, you will still be able to easily stop and change direction if your opponent decides to hit the tennis ball behind you.  

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