When I was learning to play tennis I would often hit against a
wall or backboard for practice. I learned quickly that you can
never beat a backboard! As with gambling, the odds are with
the house. So with tennis the odds are with the wall. The darn
ball just keeps coming back! I have beaten a few ball machines
because they got jammed or ran out of balls, but I have never
been victorious against a wall. The backboards I hit against
never fell down; the buildings I hit against never collapsed.
The good news is the backboard is the perfect partner to
improve your game.
You can hit forehands, backhands, volleys, overheads and serves
against a backboard. I always liked to find a backboard with a
line about the height of the net across the board. If I were on
a wall I would always find a way to create my own line with
string or chalk. I loved having a target!
You can be as creative as you like against a wall. First, I
would simply hit forehands and backhands. Next I would hit my
forehand to my backhand and my backhand to my forehand to see
if I could keep it going. This would simulate hitting
crosscourt shots. Then I would hit my forehand to my forehand
and backhand to my backhand to simulate the down-the-line
shot. As my control improved I would do a number of different
patterns to practice my control. I would try to keep the ball
3 to 6 feet above the net, but sometimes to test my control I
would attempt to hit just inches above the net. Of course if
you do not have much control yet, just keep hitting one shot
over and over and over again until you develop a measure of
control..it's not easy!!!
To serve I would measure 39 feet from the backboard (if there
is room), place a piece of tape and use the tape as the
baseline in order to serve. For volleys I would move up close
and fire away to sharpen up my reflexes. I would hit overheads
by serving the ball so that it lands on the ground near the
wall and bounces off the wall in an upward direction.
After my warm-up the fun begins! Now I pretend I'm at
Wimbledon. I serve from behind the baseline and play out
points with a fictitious opponent. I hit the serve, follow it
with some groundstrokes and move the ball around, driving my
imaginary opponent crazy. I'm feeling pretty good. Proud in
fact that I have my opponent on the move! After a long,
gruesome rally I see an opening and advance fearlessly to the
net. At the net my opponent puts up a admirable fight, but I
hang in there and hit a crosscourt volley for an angled
winner. Game, set, match, Mr. Veneziano! Unfortunately, I now
had to go find the ball that I pummeled for the angled winner.
You see, in the long run the wall always wins!
There is one more simple drill you can do against a backboard
that was always one of my favorites. I would use tape to place
a square on the wall about 3 feet by 3 feet. I would then
practice until I could hit a number of backhands or forehands
into that square. The square gave me a more defined target to
hit which, in turn, improved my accuracy.
Be creative! Anything goes as long as you are hitting tennis
balls! Anyway, anywhere, anytime!