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Expert Advice: The Top 5 Drills To Evaluate Tennis Players

Expert Advice: The Top 5 Drills To Evaluate Tennis Players

Youth Sports •

A skill set that any outstanding tennis coach displays is the ability to evaluate a player’s technical, physical, and mental attributes. And while evaluating a player’s skill is critical, far more important is the ability to design and deliver a program that improves the player’s further.

When analyzing the stroke of any tennis player, the coach must take into account the overall context of the player’s history, game style, and level of playing experience. In saying that, every tennis player receives feedback by playing the game, and this “raw” learning process should never be overlooked.

But there’s no doubt that for players to reach their peak performance, they require the support of an experienced coach who can design and deliver an effective training program.

How To Evaluate a Tennis Player

Coaches must evaluate a tennis player’s strengths and weaknesses while also evaluating their technique. To effectively evaluate a player’s technique, a tennis coach must consider factors such as the player’s attitude, current coaching practices, future goals, and the player’s personality traits. 

Limit your instructions

As a coach, the last thing you want to do is “bombard” players with instructional advice, especially considering most of the time it’s unwarranted. This is where an experienced coach can prove to be invaluable, as they’re able to pinpoint which techniques need correction and those that can wait. 

A good example is serving. Time and again, I’ve seen coaches try to address technical problems such as insufficient wrist snap. But more often than not, this has little to do with technique and is generally caused by a wayward ball toss. There’s no use addressing the wrist snap if the ball toss is not corrected first.

Having software to instantly supply report cards to athletes after an assessment, and provide you the coach a solid understanding of where your players are at can be a pivotal next step. SkillShark provides coaches of all sports with a leading evaluation software and app to greatly help with the evaluation process. Coaches are seeing a significant improvement in athlete performance through SkillShark’s instant feedback reports generated after each evaluation.

Developing an effective drill program 

Once you have prioritized the technical issues, you can develop a long-term plan designed to improve the player’s performance. I would recommend taking a simple approach to not overwhelm the player with new information. Remember, complexity is in simplicity.

To evaluate players’ skill levels, you can have them run through several different drills that look at all aspects of the game, not just technique.

So let’s take a look at five drills I’ve used to test and take junior and professional players to more than 7 National titles and 15 International wins.

Drill #1 “Rally in the Alley”

Category: Groundstrokes

Purpose: Developing consistent stokes on the forehand and backhand side

Time: 15 to 20 minutes

Equipment: None needed

Level: Advanced junior to professional 

How To: Players A and B line up on opposite sides of the net in the tram lines.

Players then rally with Player A only hitting forehands and Player B only hitting backhands.

Players count any ball that lands inside the tram lines and then total their score at the end of 5 minutes. After one set is complete, players switch sides.

Top Tips: The coach should emphasize correct technique, good footwork, and early preparation.

Drill #2 “Keep the Ball Deep”

Category: Grounsdtrokes

Purpose: To consistently keep the ball deep with good height and placement over the net

Time: 15 minutes

Equipment: None 

Level: Beginner to Advanced junior

How: Players start by marking off a shaded area at the back of the court.

Player A starts the rally by dropping and hitting the ball to Player B.

If Player A’s ball lands short of the shaded area, then they lose the point and are replaced by Player C.

The drill is only completed when one team reaches 21 points. Two or four players can complete the drill. 

Top Tips: Players should focus on plenty of height over the net and use a variety of spins 

Drill #3 “Slice and Dice”

Category: Groundstrokes

Purpose: Developing the slice backhand and learning to move your opponent

Time: 3 to 5 minutes max

Equipment: Cones, lines, or targets 

Level: Advanced junior to professional

How: Player A positions themselves in the backhand corner and then starts by hitting the ball to Player B.

Player A then continues to rally by hitting the ball to any of the four targets placed by the coach.

Player A can only use their backhand slice when hitting the targets.

Player B can use any stroke necessary to keep the ball in play.

Top Tip: Because of the amount of running player B might do, the coach must ensure player B rotates every 3 to 5 minutes.

Drill #4 “Serving to Targets”

Category: Serving

Purpose: Developing the variety and accuracy of the player’s serve

Time: 30 minutes

Equipment: Targets or Cones

Level: Beginner to professional

How: The coach places 6 targets, 3 in each service box.

Players take turns trying to hit each of the 6 targets with their 1st and 2nd serves.

Top Tip: This drill is difficult, so emphasize having fun and not giving up.

Drill #5 “High Ball / Low Ball”

Category: Volley

Purpose: To practice identifying the different heights of balls and then choosing the right volley to play

Time: 5 to 10 minutes

Equipment: A full basket of balls

Level: Beginner to Advanced junior

How: The player positions themselves at the net in their ready position.

The coach then feeds a full basket of balls, with each ball varying in height and speed.

If the ball is low, the player plays the shot crosscourt;

If however, the ball is higher above the net, then the player can play the ball to any area of the court. Continue until the basket is empty.

Top Tip: Remind players to track the flight of the ball quickly and get their feet into the ready position and use the split step. Coaches should also provide constant feedback on the decision-making of their player’s volley. 

Tennis Evaluations Made Easy

Did you know, you can now trade in the player evaluation forms and use the SkillShark App?

Evaluate tennis players from any mobile device or tablet.  save over 50+ hours by eliminating the need for data entry into spreadsheets.

  • Customizable Templates
  • Instant player report cards
  • Enhance evaluations with video

SkillShark has probably saved me about 120 hours overall.

Jordan Draeger - Going Yard Baseball - SkillShark Review

Jordan Draeger

Owner/Operating at Going Yard Baseball

Simplify Evaluations with SkillShark

Trade in those player evaluation forms and switch to the SkillShark App for hassle-free tennis player assessments. Evaluate tennis players effortlessly using any mobile device or tablet, and say goodbye to the time-consuming data entry into spreadsheets.

With customizable templates and instant player report cards, SkillShark streamlines the evaluation process, making it efficient and effective. You can even enhance your evaluations with video feedback, providing a comprehensive view of player performance.

Experience the convenience of SkillShark and save valuable time. Many coaches have reported saving over 50+ hours, making it a game-changer for tennis evaluations and player development. Try SkillShark today and witness the difference in your tennis coaching journey.


Expert Advice on Evaluating Tennis Players with SkillShark

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What is SkillShark, and how can it help in evaluating tennis players?

SkillShark is a leading evaluation software and app designed to assist coaches in assessing and improving the performance of tennis players. It streamlines the evaluation process by providing instant feedback reports after each assessment, saving coaches valuable time compared to traditional data entry into spreadsheets.

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Can SkillShark be used for other sports besides tennis?

Yes, SkillShark is a versatile tool suitable for evaluating athletes in various sports. While this blog focuses on tennis, SkillShark can be applied to multiple sports, making it a valuable resource for coaches across different disciplines.

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How do I get started with SkillShark?

Getting started with SkillShark is easy. You can request a free demo to learn how the app works and see if it suits your coaching needs. There are no strings attached to trying out SkillShark, and the demo will provide you with valuable insights into its features and benefits.

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What are the main features of SkillShark for tennis evaluations?

SkillShark offers customizable templates for assessments, allowing you to tailor your evaluations to meet specific criteria. It provides instant player report cards, which give you a quick overview of a player’s performance. Additionally, SkillShark allows coaches to enhance evaluations with video feedback, providing a comprehensive view of a player’s abilities.

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Can SkillShark be used by coaches of all levels, from beginners to professionals?

Absolutely! SkillShark is suitable for coaches at all levels, whether you are working with beginner-level players or professionals. The customizable templates and flexibility of the app make it adaptable to your coaching requirements, regardless of the players’ skill levels.

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How has SkillShark benefited coaches in terms of time savings?

Many coaches who have adopted SkillShark have reported significant time savings. Some have saved over 50+ hours by eliminating the need for manual data entry into spreadsheets. This time efficiency allows coaches to focus more on coaching and player development.

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Can I use SkillShark on different devices, such as mobile phones and tablets?

Yes, SkillShark is accessible from any mobile device or tablet. Its mobile compatibility ensures that you can evaluate tennis players effortlessly, whether you are on the court or on the go.

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Is SkillShark suitable for both individual and team evaluations?

SkillShark is versatile and can be used for both individual player evaluations and team assessments. Coaches can tailor the evaluations to meet their specific coaching objectives, whether they are working with individual players or entire teams.

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How can I request a demo of SkillShark to see if it’s the right fit for me?

You can easily request a demo of SkillShark here The demo will provide you with hands-on experience and help you understand how SkillShark can benefit your tennis coaching journey.

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Can SkillShark be used for tennis evaluations at different skill levels, including youth players?

Yes, SkillShark can be used for tennis evaluations across various skill levels, from youth players to professionals. Coaches can adapt the assessment criteria and templates to suit the developmental stage of the players they are working with. If you have any more questions or need further information, don’t hesitate to reach out to SkillShark’s support team for assistance at

About The Author

Brenton Barker: Former Professional Sports Coach/Manager


Brenton is an Australian with 20 years of experience working with professional athletes. These athletes have combined to win more than ten international events. He holds a Degree in Sports Coaching and was the former Head Advisor to the Japanese Government Sports Institute.