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Basket or Playing Drills

Marcin Bieniek examines the advantages and disadvantages of basket drills and playing drills.

There are the followers of basket tennis drills and the followers of playing drills, but which of these is better? I think playing drills are better in most situations. Every coach and player appreciates the power of repetitions, but it is not about the number of times you play the stroke that matters. It is the quality of the stroke that is far more important.

Why am I the follower and supporter of those playing drills? Firstly, it is much more exciting and motivating. You learn better and faster if something attracts you. Secondly, we feel it is similar to the game conditions; it is not unrealistic. Thirdly, we train many other skills during playing drills, e.g. footwork, decisions, ball-tracking, balance, and much more. I understand we can isolate one stroke flaw on basket drills, but it is appropriate only for a short time.

So, what about this famous "repetition rule"?

Let us repeat match conditions, not just one stroke. Some coaches will tell you that you cannot perform well if you cannot master a single skill. Even if you practiced a single skill and perfected it, it does not mean you will perform it well in a game because you have to connect your new skill with footwork, decisions, opponent's shot, etc.

I think basket drills can be useful, but they need to involve playing skills. But how do we do that? Just take the typical volley exercise. The coach feeds alternating balls on forehand and backhand sides to the player who has to play it cross-court.

The player can play forehand volley to the coach, who plays it back down the line and the player finishes with a backhand cross-court volley. Next ball, the coach feeds from the basket to the player's forehand, repeating the pattern. How can we improve that drill?

Why is it better? It is more similar to game conditions than a typical alternating basket drill. Every ball from the coach is different, and we give our players less time for reaction. It is my personal view, and I do not want to force you to change your methodology.

Basket drills - Advantages

  • A lot of repetitions
  • Focus on the isolated flaw
  • Self-confidence on a given shot

Basket drills - Disadvantages

  • Not similar to a match's conditions
  • Training only isolated skill
  • A similar ball is fed
  • No other aspects are trained
  • There is no connection between the previous shot and the isolated skill

Playing drills - Advantages

  • More similar to a game situation
  • Interesting
  • Motivating
  • co-operating
  • Conditions' changing
  • Other aspects as footwork and decisions are trained
  • There is a connection between the previous shot and the next one
  • Every ball is different
  • Learning from your mistakes according to opponent's shots

Playing drills - Disadvantages

  • Less repetition
  • More challenging to catch minor flaws from the stroke
  • More demanding for the coach

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • BIENIEK, M. (2012) Basket or Playing Drills [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

About the Author

Marcin Bieniek is a tennis coach from Poland and a former professional player (Polish National Juniors Team). He is a certificated tennis coach by the Polish Tennis Coaching Association and the Professional Tennis Registry. Marcin has worked with many of the top 20 Polish Juniors and the top 150 players in the world.