Level up Your Tennis Game: Tennis Equipment List & Guide
Tennis is an intense, fast-moving sport. Reactions, precision, coordination, quickness, power, focus and conditioning all play their part.
In this article, we’ll be looking at equipment you can use to train specific skills. Equipment has a ton of benefits, not least of which is how it improves training efficiency. You can get more out of your training and increase playtime without necessarily increasing resources – whether that’s extra sessions, hitting partners or hiring more courts.
The other key benefit is something that human opposition can’t usually offer: endless repetition. The benefit of repeating the same plays and moves hundreds, even thousands of times can’t be overstated. By developing muscle memory you’ll free up mental resources to focus on the opponent during a game.
Put simply, the right equipment can give a player their next step up. So, let’s get into it.
First up, let’s talk about rebounders.
Rebounders are great for practicing solo. Without relying a hitting partner (who has their own training objectives!), we can get a lot more time in. And as a coach, you can spend more time developing your players without needing to be on the other side of the court.
Especially early on, rebounders are useful for quickly learning a variety of shots at the same time as learning to better perceive the ball in flight.
But they’re also useful for more advanced players. You can use them to develop footwork, ball control and reaction speeds. Some players also use them for pre-match warmup.
This rebounder is a large 9’ x 7’ type, which is perfect for beginners. It also comes with a tape that fits horizontally to simulate the top of the net. It’s robust and built to last. It can be set to four angles to help you mix up your drills.
The second rebounder I’m showing you is smaller, and a portrait shape at 5’ x 7’. With court lines on the mesh, you can think clearly about what part of the court you are aiming at players. What’s really distinctive about the XK model is its strength. It works with swings of any power, meaning it’s good for advanced players and adults, too.
Tennis ball machines
Ball machines are very versatile. The examples I’m showing you are relatively portable and can be used to help your players develop almost any skill. By designing specific drills, you can train speed, changes in direction, new strokes, reaction time and of course, ball control.
They are just as useful for beginners as they are for advanced players. The good ones are flexible enough to grow with a player, offering increasing levels of challenge over the years. Speaking of which, the best machines can decades, making them a solid investment.
Above all, though, ball machines are about repetition. Your players can practice the exact same shot hundreds of times over. Long after a hitting partner would get bored, your ball machine will keep on setting up strokes exactly how you want it to.
Here’s a list of portable tennis ball machines we reviewed here at PSC if you’re interested.
And, here’s a couple of picks from the list to save you time;
Part of a wider range of products from the Lobster Sports, this brilliant tennis ball machine comes with all the features and benefits you'd expect from one of the best brands in the industry.
This Liberty machine has a large 150 ball hopper and is capable of launching them at up to 80mph. With the ability to produce topspin and backspin and the added challenge of random horizontal oscillation, this is a great machine for beginners and intermediate players.
Although it comes in more expensive than most other machines on the market, the Spinshot Player is one mighty piece of machinery. Got you covered for portability, durability and has all the right ...
The Spintshot is a more advanced ball machine than the Liberty. It’s powerful, too. In fact, it can launch a ball at up to 11mph. On top of that, it support oscillation in any direction, with pre-programmed drills that follow a sequence. What I love is the ability to control the machine with your phone, without having to buy an extra remote.
Top spin aids
The vast majority of today’s game is now played with topspin, making it a vitally important skill to develop in your new players. What’s tricky about teaching it is that your players need to know how it actually feels to hit a topspin – and that’s where a training aid can come in.
You can use a topspin aid to help players quickly implement what you’ve taught them, then commit it to muscle memory through repetition.
TopspinPro Tennis Training Aid
This topspin aid works by forcing players to use the precise plays required for good topspin. By getting immediate feedback in the form of spin – or lack of it – the theory can be put to immediate ...
It’s also a much quicker way to master the basic technique, and to build up muscle memory. And because you can change the height, it’ll work for everyone five years and up – and grow with players, too.
Tennis court targets
Court targets are a great way to develop a focus on accuracy. Shot placement is central to progression in the game, and targets are a great way of keeping precision central to your drills, and not letting play become sloppy.
You can targets in combination with the other equipment we’ve talked about, like ball machines. You can even set up custom rules in practice games, with rules based around the targets you’re using.
Oncourt Offcourt Tennis Court Shapes Set
This full set of targets is an ideal way to get started…
These ones are very durable, and have slip-resistance, so they’re safe to use both indoors and out.
Oncourt Offcourt TAPUT Pop-Up tennis targets
Another option, these targets attach to tennis nets…
But they’re also helpful off the court. By attaching them to something else, like a fence, you can keep practising outside of sessions.
Acurasee Tennis Training Kit
If you want to get advanced, you can use electronic targets like this one from Acurasee. By combining the target with its accessory light system, you’ll see immediate visual feedback. This is good for positive reinforcement but also a great way to enjoy competition between your players.
Of course, not all tennis balls are created equal. Besides that, there’s also balls that are more suitable depending on who is playing. If you’re coaching very young players, you might consider a foam ball. As players develop and grow, there’s also room for an intermediate training ball.
These balls, in their distinctive red and yellow, are ideal for young beginners. I’ve picked them because of their good construction. Just because they are training balls doesn’t mean we shouldn’t expect a consistent bounce. Balls at this level also tend to bounce to an appropriate height for juniors.
These balls are similar in quality, size and consistency to the Quick Start balls I’ve just mentioned, but they come with a bell inside. They are a good option if you coach blind or partially sighted players.
I like these Wilson balls. They’re not quite professional grade, but they’re a good balance of price and performance. It’s always tempting to buy cheap for volume, and in some cases that makes a lot of sense, but as you or your players develop, it’s important to use good balls. Balls with poor consistency hold back development of accuracy.
No matter how good our technique, as players we can’t stay competitive if we don’t develop physically. We need to be quick enough around the court and fit enough to see out a long match. As a coach, we’ve got a big role here.
Key areas to work on are agility, fast and accurate footwork, strength, explosiveness and reaction times.
As much as physical fitness broadens a player’s ability, it also reinforces technique, because focus and consistent execution are so important. As fatigue sets in, we begin to lose concentration and make mistakes.
Slayed Sports Speed Training Agility Ladder
Agility ladders are ideal for any sport where fast footwork is important. As well as quickness, a ladder develops coordination and balance. Sure-footedness will give your players a competitive edge.
I like these hex rings because you can use them a bit like an agility ladder when laid out straight, but give you the flexibility of setting them in any pattern. That means you can design drills for a wide range of movement. You can even set them up to improve weaker movements for each of your players individually.
SKLZ Recoil 360 Dynamic Resistance and Assistance Trainer
Resistance trainers like this one from SKLZ are good for improving explosiveness, and particularly that first step towards the ball.
It works in any direction, and can also be used solo which adds flexibility to your group sessions.
And there you have it! I’d love to hear about your experiences using equipment. What would you like me to cover in future?
Wrapping it all up…
Overall you need a balanced set of equipment. There’s no point going out and buying everything anyone recommends. You have to find equipment that not only help you develop your weaknesses but builds solid foundations for your strength too.
Developing both physically and mentally is key to excelling, by using a combination of say; a tennis ball machine, some target nets and the Recoil 360 from SKLZ for example will give you a huge boost in many areas of your game.
Find 2 or 3 peices of equipment that can have biggest impact on your game and go with them until you feel like your progress is slowly declining – from there you can move onto other pieces of equipment.