Five Drills to Increase Quickness

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Jahvid Best

Quickness, an essential weapon in any athlete's arsenal, is the ability to respond immediately to an external stimulus. Whether it's reacting to a player you're guarding, running after a drop shot or making a cut to break loose, quickness is one of your most critical assets for success. Being a half step behind the competition can be the difference between winning and losing.

Below are five drills that will develop your reactive speed. Practice them four to five days a week at the start of your training and at 100-percent intensity, and there's no doubt you'll gain a step on the competition.

Ball Drop
This drill is excellent for developing first-step quickness and straight-ahead speed.

  • Assume athletic stance facing partner with feet parallel
  • Have partner stand approximately seven yards away with tennis ball overhead
  • When ball is released, sprint to catch it after one bounce
  • Back up one yard after each catch; repeat for reps
  • Perform prescribed reps in parallel stance, staggered stance (one foot in front of the other) and side stance (10 on each side)

Sets/Reps: 1x8-10 of each stance

Overhead Throw and Chase
This is a great drill to enhance focus, develop reactive capabilities and promote straight-ahead speed.

  • Have partner stand behind you and throw tennis ball over your head
  • Sprint to catch ball after one bounce; return to start
  • Have partner throw ball farther after each successful catch
  • Increase difficulty by having partner throw slightly to right or left

Sets/Reps: 1x8-10

Lateral Throw and Catch
This drill is perfect for increasing lateral speed and quickness.

  • Stand in parallel stance facing partner
  • Have partner throw ball to your right
  • Catch ball in midair
  • Throw ball back and return to start position; repeat
  • Repeat for reps on left side

Sets/Reps: 3-4x10-16 each side

Randomized Lateral Throw and Catch
This is an advanced version of the Lateral Throw and Catch.

  • Stand in parallel stance facing partner
  • Have partner throw ball to left or right in varying pattern
  • Catch ball in midair
  • Throw ball back and return to start position

Sets/Reps: 3-4x16-20

Reaction Ball Game
This is the ultimate drill for developing speed, quickness and focus.

  • Face partner in athletic stance
  • Have partner throw reaction ball in front of you
  • Catch ball after one bounce; repeat
  • Keep score of catches and misses, receiving one point for each catch
  • Play to 10 points, best of three games

Photo:  detroitlions.com

Dean Hollingworth, CSCS, has extensive experience working with athletes of all ages, helping them develop speed, agility and strength. He has consulted with various amateur and professional organizations as a fitness specialist for tennis, hockey, gymnastics and football; and his involvement has directly contributed to athletes' performance both on and off the field.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: TENNIS | SPEED DRILLS | SPRINT | THROW | DRILL | STANCE | TENNIS BALL