By: Graeme Guthrie
- Personal Trainer, TheGym at 99 Sudbury
Tennis requires a combination of muscular endurance, anaerobic conditioning, speed, quickness, agility and flexibility. It's key to understand that tennis relies more on muscular endurance than power, and more on anaerobic than aerobic conditioning. Planning your fitness around this information will help you get in shape in the most efficient ways possible.
While large muscles help generate racket head speed, it's more important that you be able to use your muscles at maximum intensity during the course of a multi-hour tennis match. As you get closer to, and during, your season, focus on muscular endurance, explosive power and reactive power, rather than bodybuilding.
Perform circuit training workouts for muscular endurance. You can use barbells to do exercises such as biceps curls, triceps extensions, squats, lunges, flyes, chest presses and deadlifts. Use 50 percent of your maximum weight and perform eight to 10 reps of an exercise. Take a one-minute break, then start a new exercise. To improve explosive power, perform deadlifts, box squats, box jumps and one-leg, split-squat jumps. To train reactive power, which is your ability to coordinate two movements like the downward knee bend and push upward on a serve, perform shock jumps, depth jumps, ankle jumps, skipping, giant steps and sprints.
Avoid Aerobic Training
Long, moderate-intensity runs train your aerobic energy system and use your low-twitch muscle fibers. This is the opposite of what you need during a tennis match. If you want to move fast during a tennis point, train fast, recommends USTA Sport Science Advisory Committee member Jack Groppel, in his "Addvantage" magazine article, "Train Your Muscles for the Long or Short Run." Sprint train using 30- to 90-second, high-intensity movements, then rest three times as long as you worked to allow you to mimic the rhythm of a tennis match. This will help train your ability to recover after points so you are ready to begin the next.
You move in several directions during a tennis match. Perform footwork drills that have you move forward, at an angle, side to side and backward and forward. Perform these drills with a straight torso to mimic your body balance during a point. Practice running to one side, then recovering to the center of court with different footwork, such as a shuffle step and crossover steps. Keep your feet in contact with the ground for as little time as possible during footwork drills.
Don't static stretch before matches and workouts. Holding a stretch can decrease your power and vertical leap for up to 30 minutes after the stretch, according to researchers as Kansas State University. Perform dynamic stretches, such as high-knee skipping, racket swings and jumping jacks, after a five-minute hitting warm-up. Static stretching helps tennis players improve flexibility, and you should stretch this way after each workout and match.