Practice is important if you want to better your game, and I have a pretty consistent practice schedule: Mondays and Saturdays, and sometimes Thursdays. And on those occasions when our court doesn’t have enough players, or if we have too many (and my doubles partner isn’t among them), I sometimes will bow out, but I don’t just pack up and go home. I simply use one of the other practice options available to me that don’t require a hitting partner.
As a country club member, my first choice is the ball machine. I can’t help it, I love it! You can do so much with it – alone or with your partner! I use it to work on every shot, from groundies, volleys, and even overheads. My fave thing to do is to play a never ending rally by setting it to oscillating. That way I can work on consistency, racket preparation, footwork and concentration, AND get in a cardio workout at the same time! Another great thing about ball machines is that there are inexpensive, easily portable, battery operated versions that you can practice with whenever and wherever you want! All you need to do is make sure the battery is charged, put it in your trunk, and hit the court!
Not everyone has access to a ball machine, (or the funds to purchase one), but all clubs and most public courts at least have a practice wall. It’s really hard to beat the wall, too, because the harder you hit the ball, the harder it comes back. And unlike an opponent who can make mistakes, the wall keeps it coming back. Though it may sound “boring”, this is actually great practice for players of all levels as it helps improve consistency and control.
And lastly, if neither of these are available, then I grab my handy-dandy hopper of used practice balls out of my back seat, and spend some quality time perfecting both my first and second serves. I work on them all – kicker, topspin, flat and slice serves. I also work on placement – out wide and down the T – using some small cones that I set up as targets. **If you purchase some cones, make sure they are weighted, so they don’t blow around in the wind :-)
MONEY SAVING TIP: If you currently pay fees to rent buckets of balls for serve practice, you should consider investing that cash in your own inexpensive hopper and fill it with the balls from your practices and matches that you can use instead. Not only will it save you money, but you’ll be ready for serve practice at any time – and anywhere!
So, for those times when you don’t have a practice partner, don’t forget that there are other options for getting in some practice. I know, it’s not the same as playing with a real person, but it’s just as good for your game.
How ’bout you? How do you practice solo? Please share with us in the comments section below!