Updated: Feb 8
If you have been taking tennis lessons or if you are playing competitively, then mini tennis (some tennis pros call it short court tennis as well) is probably not something new for you. Many coaches and pros have been using mini tennis as a form of warm up in their tennis lessons. Personally I use this activity as well because it really helps the player to get ready for the training or match ahead.
Have you heard of mini tennis? If not, I strongly recommend that you watch the video and use mini tennis as part of your tennis session.
What is mini tennis and what are the benefits?
Mini tennis is a rallying activity that uses only half the tennis court. Usually players will rally with each other from the service line to service line. The focus is to keep the ball in the service box. This warming up activity is usually about five to ten minutes and after mini tennis, players will retreat to the baseline and continue to rally again.
Therefore, the obvious reason for short court tennis is warming up the body. When you step into the court and play, your body may not be ready to run and hit. If you head to the baseline immediately, you might have a chance to injure yourself. Even if you have done some dynamic warm up exercises, you should still do mini tennis to prepare your body and develop the feel for the tennis ball.
Here are the list of top benefits of mini tennis.
1. Mini tennis is a great warm-up activity.
Firstly, this short court tennis puts all of the muscles you’ll be using in your match to use. Those 5 minutes of mini tennis give you time to warm up those muscles and get your blood pumping before you go full force.
2. Mini tennis helps you to stay focus.
Consistency is often more important than power. Mini tennis helps you to stay focus as you are directing the ball into the service box right from the start. If you are successful in this then it will be easier to expand to the whole court.
3. Mini tennis helps you practice control.
Building on from point number two, short court tennis helps you to practice control. You got to be patient to keep the ball in the service box. In my opinion, this is important you are estimating the amount of power required for mini tennis. In fact, there is not much power needed. You just need to relax in your swing and direct the ball into the service box.
4. Mini tennis helps you practice topspin and slice.
I love to use topspin and slice in my games. So, right from the warm up, I practice my slice backhand and forehand followed by topspin forehand and backhand. More importantly, mini tennis helps me to get the feel of the ball because my intention is to direct the ball into the service box.
5. Mini tennis helps you to work on your movement.
What is warm up without movement? When you are playing short court tennis, you can practice your footwork at the same time. You can practice your split step, shuffle steps, crossover steps and recovery steps etc. You will not only be warmed-up, you will eventually have vastly improved footwork.
Activities to work out for mini tennis
In the video above, I shared all the activities that I use for mini tennis. You can try out the sequence that I proposed and see if it helps you in your warm up.
Practice the footwork throughout. Start with slice
Focus on the moving the feet throughout the warm up. Then, you can shuffle your feet to start the momentum. Start with the forehand and backhand slice to get a feel of the ball. I tend to hold the finish to deliberately feel the ball rolling off from the strings
Move on to topspin forehand and backhand
After one to two minutes of slice, work on the topspin forehand and backhand. Also focus on imparting topspin on the ball. Try to feel the push and roll on the ball while staying active on the feet.
Alternate the strokes with your partner
The next activity that you can work with your partner is to work on alternate strokes. For example, you can work on slices while your partner return your shots with topspin. In this way, you get to practice slice on topspin shots while your partner can work on topspin on a low skidding ball. After about two minutes, change the sequence.
Alternate the strokes within yourself
Finally, the last activity you can practice is to work on alternate strokes individually. First you can hit with topspin and then hit a slice on the next shot. Further, you can continue this to alternate between topspin and slice so that you are comfortable to change the rhythm when you need it.
So, by now you should be perspiring and ready to expand to full court. If you are a beginner and have not learnt slice, you can use mini tennis to practice what you know and work on the consistency. Remember to stay active on the legs.
If you are an advanced tennis players, try this sequence before you head to the baseline.
Go ahead and reap the benefits of mini tennis!
Question: Do you use mini tennis in your tennis sessions? If yes, what are the activities that you do? Don’t forget to share them with me in the comments section below.