Why Do Tennis Players Need Speed? (Tennis Coach Explains)

As in most other sports, speed is also important in tennis. Although you only cover short distances in tennis, speed can be a deciding factor in winning a point. But why do tennis players need speed?

Speed is one of the most important traits a tennis player should have. The use of speed allows a player to quickly get into the right position, make the proper preparation, and hit the ball back. Swing speed is also important in tennis. It allows a player to put enough speed and spin to the ball.

Speed is used in tennis in different ways. In this article, you will learn which ways they are, why it is so important, and how to improve your speed for tennis.

Why is Speed Important in Tennis?

In regular lawn tennis, it is a rule that the ball cannot bounce twice before you hit it. You need to hit the ball after the first bounce or before it touches the ground at all.

In order to do this, you need to get into position so you can hit the ball.

However, balls barely ever bounce in the same spot every time. This means you need to run to the ball. The better you get, the more important speed becomes.

This is because top tennis players hit their balls quite fast, leaving you with less time to get to the ball.

Speed isn’t just important for getting to the ball in time, but the speed in your shots is important as well.

Speed and power go hand in hand. Generally speaking, your opponent will have a harder time hitting a fast ball than one that gives them plenty of time to get into position.

While many factors influence the speed of your ball, the swing speed of your racket does play a significant role.

How is Speed Used in Tennis?

Getting to the ball in time is one of the most important uses of speed in tennis. If you don’t get to the ball in time, you won’t be able to hit the ball at all.

If you do get to the ball before it bounces a second time, it’s not guaranteed you will hit the ball successfully either.

In order to get into position properly and use the right stance, you need time. The faster you get to a ball, the more time you have to hit that perfect shot.

Running fast does not just apply to running forwards. Tennis players occasionally have to run backwards, and they have to do a lot of running and sideways movement.

Imagine playing a doubles match and being positioned at the net. You want to move along with the ball constantly so you can step in and play a volley when the opportunity presents itself.

If you are too slow, the opponents might cross you and play the ball in a way that is impossible for you or your buddy to get.

In tennis, speed is not something that involves only the legs. Your arms need a certain speed as well.

Swinging the racket in a fast way allows you to hit the ball harder and more steadily.

The swing of a tennis racket should be clean, relaxed, and fast, so the speed of the racket can partially be transferred to the ball.

How to Increase Speed in Tennis (6 Tips)

1. Don’t just focus on sprints

You won’t be running long distances during a tennis match, but this doesn’t mean running a longer distance isn’t a good way of increasing speed.

To truly become faster, you need to push your limits and need to run as fast as you can.

If you only run the short distances you come across during a match, you will never be able to reach your maximum speed.

Therefore, longer distances are great for improving speed, while sprints can help you with other aspects of tennis.

2. Don’t overdo it

If you run at full capacity, you will not be able to get a lot of sprints in.

It is very important to rest in between exercises. You should not get discouraged if you are already tired after four longer sprints.

Overdoing will only backfire, as it’s not good for your muscles. Take enough recovery time; in the end, this will give better results.

3. Work on your reaction time

Reaction time is crucial when it comes to speed.

You can run and move as fast as you want, but if you start running too late, you will have a harder time getting to the ball in time than when you start running right away.

Besides that, if you have a good reaction time, it can make a huge difference in how much time you have to get into position and decide your tactics.

4. Use an agility ladder

Female tennis player doing cardio training

Agility ladders are great tools for exercises that improve strength. Running through it with high knees, for example, is a good exercise.

This exercise helps with technique, and it forces you to stay light on your toes. This all helps you run faster.

There are several other exercises you can do with an agility ladder as well; it’s a very versatile tool for tennis-related exercises.

5. Work on your acceleration

Tennis is a very explosive sport, where you run a few feet, stop, and then run again.

Because you stand completely still as you hit a ball, your acceleration while running towards the next shot must be on point.

An excellent exercise to improve acceleration is the push-up start. You start laying on your stomach and then push yourself up into a sprint.

6. Focus on rotational power

Speed in the legs is not the only necessary form of speed in tennis. If you want to hit powerful shots, swing speed is also important.

Swing speed is best achieved with a relaxed swing and standing not too close to the ball nor too far away.

If you want to increase your swing speed, exercises that focus on rotational power are the way to go.


Speed is important in tennis. The faster you get to a ball, the better you will hit it. You can use the time you have before swinging your racket to pick the correct stance and stay balanced.

When tennis players run across the court, they usually cross short distances at a time, so you need to be fast from the moment you start moving.

Swing speed is also essential, as it helps you hit the balls faster.

(Click here to learn more about the different physical demands for tennis)

Brian Henderson

I am what you might call a true tennis fanatic. When I am not on the tennis court teaching or playing myself, I am probably writing an informative article about tennis. My goal is to get as many people as possible excited and informed about tennis.
March 15, 2022
Published: March 15, 2022