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The One Hour Turbo Tennis Workout

Ron Waite Photo
Ron Waite, USPTR

If you are like many tennis players, you don't always have the time to practice as extensively as you would like. It may be that work or other commitments limit you, or it could be that you can only secure an hour of court time at your club. Whatever the reason, you want to get the absolute most out of your hour. Aimless hitting or even playing a set won't cut it! So, what can you do?

Coaching college tennis, many of my players on a given day could only set aside an hour for team practice. This is when I perfected the one hour turbo tennis routine. It is designed to force you to hit every stroke, hit with a target in mind, and provide you with an aerobic challenge. It has proven so effective that many of my former players use the turbo tennis workout as a pre-match warm-up.

To begin with, you will need at least six balls...you don't want to waste time picking up balls. In addition, you or your partner must be wearing a watch to time stroke series. Finally, you must be stretched out before you begin the workout. If you arrive early at your club, you can take advantage of the time to complete your stretching and body warm-up.

Try to keep things moving as much as is possible throughout the workout. If you have a hopper of balls, it might be wise to use this, and thus, minimize ball retrieval. Finally, this is not a competitive workout. Rather, you and your partner should strive to cooperate and to perform in sync. The idea is to hit as many controlled balls in the hour as is possible. Hitting winners will only defeat this purpose.


  1. For the first five minutes, you and your partner should stand at the baseline and trade groundstrokes that land in the center of the court and deep. The idea is to "get your eyes on," and to hit 3/4 pace grounds that clear the net by at least 4 feet (this will make certain they land deep). Try to alternate hitting to your partner's forehand and then to her/his backhand. Just be certain that she/he doesn't have to move more than 3 feet to get to any ball (targeting your shots).


  2. Now, you want to trade crosscourt forehand groundstrokes. Assuming that you are both right handed, this means that you will hit the balls crosscourt to the deuce court. After hitting each ball, you want to return to the center hash mark. This will assure that you have to move to hit shots and will provide aerobic benefits. The pace of each shot may vary from soft to full throttle. However, you must be certain that each shot lands in the deuce court and forces the right handed partner to strike a forehand to return it.


  3. Next, we move to crosscourt backhands. Righties trade backhands hitting crosscourt to the ad court. Again, it is best to try and return to the center hash mark after each stroke. Vary the pace and to some degree, the angle of each stroke. As in #2, move the ball around. Just be certain to get the ball to the ad court and to your opponent's backhand.


  4. If both of you are right handed, these next two components will force one of you to hit backhands while the other hits forehands. Then, you will each reverse the strokes. One of you should stay in the deuce court and the other should move to the his/her ad court. The idea here is to hit down the line shots to each other. I like to see targeting become crucial at this point, and I suggest that each of you attempt to trade strokes in such a manner that all the balls fall within the doubles alley. This means that you'll have to exert extra control. The alley is narrow, and the net is higher where the alley is. You may find that moving to the center hash makes this drill impossible, but I do recommend that you recover back to center as much as you can to continue the aerobic demands.


  5. This fifth step is the same as #4 except you have reverse sides of the court. If you were on the deuce side in step four, move to your ad court. If you were on the ad side in step four, you should move to your deuce side. Again, use the doubles alley and try to recover to center as much as you can after each stroke.


  6. Volleys are next. One of you should stand at the center of the net while the other stands at her/his baseline. The idea here is to have the person who is back hit high and low drives to the net person's forehand and backhand volleys. The net person should try to move the baseline player, but not beyond his/her hitting range. Try to mix things up, but also, try to keep the ball rallying. This is very similar to what you might do in a pre-match warm-up. The only real difference is that you are deliberately mixing things up and as the rally continues, you invariably "stretch" each other to your hitting limits. Be certain to have balls in your pockets, this drill is a difficult one.


  7. Step seven in the same as step six except you reverse positions. The net person becomes the back player and vice versa.


  8. Now, each player should hit 12 overheads. One player feeds the other. The player who is back should try to guess where the person hitting the overhead will place the ball. This simulates match play. The back person, if he or she guesses correctly, should hit a lob to continue the drill. Experienced players may wish to hit a pass instead of a lob. Hopefully, the person hitting overheads can detect the pass, move correctly, and put away a volley. Again, be certain to have balls in each person's pockets to keep a continuous flow to this drill. After the first person has hit 12 overheads, switch positions and have her/his partner hit 12.


  9. In this step, each player should take 20 serves total (10 to deuce and 10 to ad). These are practice serves similar to what would be expected in a pre-match warm-up. Don't waste time here! Usually, the pros have only two minutes left in their pre-match warm-up when they begin to take serves. I've allowed you more time...after all, you don't have ball kids.


  10. In the remaining 13 minutes, you and your partner should play one 12 point tiebreaker. If time permits, try to play two. Remember, play is continuous in tiebreakers! So, move quickly when switching sides every 6 points.


Well, there you have it. In one hour, you've hit virtually every key stroke, worked up a sweat and you have actually played a competitive mini-match. Your first time trying the turbo tennis workout, you may find that you ran a bit long with respect to time. However, as you become more familiar with the routine, I assure you that you will have no problem with time.

As I mentioned earlier, this is an excellent regimen to use as a pre-match warm-up. Just allow yourself at least a half hour to rest and restretch before beginning your match.

Remember, practice doesn't make perfect, but perfect practice does! Hopefully, you will agree that the "one hour turbo tennis workout" is perfect practice! Use this workout regularly and you'll become a tennis overdog!!!

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Turbo Tennis Archives:
1996 - 2002 | 2003 - Present

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This column is copyrighted by Ron Waite, all rights reserved. Questions and comments about these columns can be directed to Ron by using this form.

Ron Waite is a certified USPTR tennis instructor who took up the game of tennis at the age of 39. Frustrated with conventional tennis methods of instruction and the confusing data available on how to learn the game, Ron has sought to sift fact from fiction. In his seven years of tennis, Ron has received USTA sectional ranking four years, has successfully coached several NCAA Division III men's and women's tennis teams to post season competition, and has competed in USTA National singles tournaments. Ron has trained at a number of tennis academies and with many of the game's leading instructors.

In addition to his full-time work as a professor at Albertus Magnus College, Ron photographs ATP tour events for a variety of organizations and publications. The name of his column, TurboTennis, stems from his methods to decrease the amount of time it takes to learn and master the game of tennis.


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