The figure of 8 has been used by players for generations for a good reason, it's an absolutely great drill.
You can hit so many shots in such a short space of time and it can be used to improve so many different elements of your game too.
If you haven't tried the figure of 8 out yet, this blog post will hopefully convince you...
If you don't know what it is, the figure of 8 basically involves standing on, behind, or just in front of the T and hitting a backhand into the forehand corner and then a forehand into the backhand corner, and then repeating this over and over again.
The ball should hit the front wall and then the side wall straight after so it's always coming back out toward you in the middle of the court.
...And that's it really!
But why is it so good?
Well, I for a start, it can benefit players of literally any standard. I've seen countless videos on social media of professional players hitting the figure of 8 in their training, in fact, I've seen Joel Makin on the court between games cracking figure of 8s out while his opponent rests off-court!
At the other end of the spectrum, when coaching beginner-level players, I'd often use the figure of 8 drill to help them get to grips with the angles of the court and it worked a treat.
This drill really has so many different purposes. It acts as a great warm-up (to warm up your reactions, your body, your shots, and of course the ball).
You use it to track your improvement and even add in a competitive element, for example, by counting how many you can play in a row without making a mistake or missing a volley.
In fact, one of my coaches used to do a drill in which everyone in the group (this particular group usually only consisted of 4-6 players) would take turns doing a figure of 8.
We'd all count how many we hit in a row and afterward, everyone would have to do court sprints based on how many figure of 8 shots they kept up in a row. So if you got the least in the group, you'd have to do the most sprints. The worst part was that you only had one go, so if you messed up your first shot, that was it!
But, going back to what I said before about it benefitting players of any standard, the reason I love the figure of 8 so much is because of how much it can be adapted, played with, and changed depending on what you'd like to improve.
I spliced together a few different clips of myself doing some of my own favourite variations of the figure of 8 below, it's a little over a minute long if you'd like to check it out (but please make sure to come back and read the rest of the newsletter)!
So, those were some of my favourite variations of the figure of 8 routine.
In the first clip, I was experimenting with different heights and paces which works wonders for improving ball control and accuracy.
Then, in the next few clips, I start throwing in some winners and kills as well as some repeated shots in which I played a few forehands into the front right corner in a row and a few backhands into the front left corner in a row (the figure of 8 is absolutely awesome for practicing your kills, volley drops, and other winners).
The figure of 16 towards the end of the video (in which I hit the ball off of the back two corners too) was one of the hardest to learn and it took a while, but it was great fun once I got a few in a row!
Anyway, these are just some of the different variations that can be played around with and tried out to make sure you don't get bored!
If you find yourself struggling to keep the ball up, you don't even have to volley when doing the figure of 8, feel free to let the ball bounce before each shot to give yourself some time.
You could also aim to hit every shot above the service line to make sure you have enough time.
Basically, just add in any variations and conditions that suit your goals for improvement!
I've been playing this drill since I started the sport around 15 years ago so I've had plenty of practice and I can vouch for the impact it has on your game if you throw it into your training every so often.
If you're on your own without a training partner, I'd say that the figure of 8 is the perfect solo drill to make sure you get plenty of shots in your session.
I'd also love to see some clips of you guys working on your figure of 8, so if you have any footage please send it our way!
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