Here’s the situation… You decide that you need to work on your cross-court backhand for your singles matches – so you and your willing practice partner head off to the court and decide it’s backhand drill time.
After a warm up, out come the towels which will be used as targets on the court and they are correctly placed in the corners (not too close to the lines here as you want it to be match realistic). You are both right-handers so you start trading backhand to backhand across the court, aiming as close to the targets as you can – so far so good. After a short while you are starting to group the balls nicely near the target and the odd one even strikes the target, great!
So What’s the Problem?
What you haven’t noticed is that you are both hitting your shots flat-footed from the corners without any movement back towards the centre mark on the baseline. Think about it, you wouldn’t (or certainly shouldn’t) in a singles match, be hitting shots from a position fixed in the corner of the court. You would be moving back towards the centre in case your opponent gives you a forehand, so this is exactly what you should be doing when you drill.
Where Possible, Make the Drill ‘Match Real’
So don’t fall into the lazy trap of not bothering to move much in the drill just because you know the ball will come back to you in the corner. Really work at your feet and make the drill ‘match real’. Treat those cross-court drill rallies as if you might get a forehand (even if you know you won’t) and move back to cover that possibility. You don’t need to move all the way to the centre but towards it and then back for the backhand. This will be encouraging you to hit the ball realistically, running towards the corner, rather than just standing waiting for every shot. You can even mix in some forehands from the backhand corner to practice the technique used so brilliantly by Nadal.
This mentality of making your drills ‘match real’ applies to pretty much all your drills. You will benefit far more from the drills and will get fitter at the same time.