‘Physical Conditioning for Tennis’

Won’t Playing Tennis Get Me In Shape For Tennis?

April 22nd, 2018

Why would someone need to do strength and conditioning in order to get in good tennis condition? Isn’t playing and practicing for tennis supposed to be the best way to get in shape for and fit for tennis? That may seem quite logical at first glance. Unfortunately, even players who train 5+ hours a day without doing other tennis specific physical conditioning may be in extremely poor match playing condition.   I am aware that this seems strange, but players who only practice and play tennis are in no way improving their physical fitness for tennis.  Will all types of off court physical training help my tennis?

After being extremely tired, overpowered, and or not able to effectively run down balls, players oftentimes come to the harsh conclusion that their fitness levels are just not allowing them to advance to the next level.  At that point of realization, a tennis player can choose to take several different paths. Some will lead them to extreme success and others will cause little or no improvement, or possible injury. Here we are going to look at three different training scenarios and their potential to either help or hinder performance.

Example 1:

A player may choose to run 3-5 miles/3-5x a week in an effort to gain more endurance and become more fit.  By doing this, the player may believe that they will have more stamina and a greater ability to endure long matches.  The reality of what players are actually doing is harsh.  Running these long distances will train players to move slower. How is this so? Well, all exercise physiologists and certified strength and conditioning specialists are well aware of the S.A.I.D. Principle.  S.A.I.D. is the acronym for specific adaptions to imposed demands.  All fine and good, but what the heck am I saying??? Simply stated, it means that you should train as you would play. Running 3-5 miles at a continuous pace, in a straight line, with no rest will train the legs to move slowly and the heart to beat at a continuous tempo.  A tennis match consists of many points that seldom last for more than 25 seconds  and have a rest period of 25 seconds between points and 90 seconds during changeovers. Therefore, doing repeated interval runs of 100-400 yard distances  with repeated agility work of (10-40 seconds) would be the best approach for the necessities of tennis. (anaerobic endurance, speed, heart rate spikes)

Example 2:

A player heads to the weight room and begins doing several machine exercises in an attempt to somehow magically  hit the tennis ball harder and handle pace better.  Although machines may have some place in a beginning strength program, they will not translate into the type of functional strength necessary for tennis.  Unfortunately, machines dictate a players range and motion of movements. Unlike machines, tennis strokes use many different muscles in various planes of movement.  A better idea for gaining functional strength for tennis is the usage of free weights and medicine balls, which will allow the user to utilize their own particular range of motion and several muscle groups that are specific to tennis during an exercise.

Example 3:

I know so many players who read about their favorite tennis professional and then over zealously attempted to copy an exact routine.  The player does this with the intention of getting into shape quickly. Unfortunately, they are usually not anywhere close to the fitness levels of Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer. Therefore,  copying one’s favorite players routine can at best lead to muscle staleness and at worst can lead to burnout or injury.  One should begin a program at their own pace. Preferably, they would want a customized or semi-customized program created for them after taking a fitness for tennis test.  Training should be tennis specific, specific to the players playing style, and specific to the players needs.

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Nice Medicine Ball Lunge Form

April 22nd, 2018

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Tennis Speed

April 21st, 2018

 In general, most people would agree that speed or distance over time is an important component to tennis court coverage. What many people do not agree on is whether or not an athlete can be trained to achieve great speed.  It is definitely true that some athletes are naturally faster and stronger than others because of the length of their limbs, muscle attachments, and amount of white/fast-twitch muscle fiber they possess.  I can testify to the fact that on many occasions I have both witnessed and strength coaches have told me about situations of untrained athletes being faster or stronger than trained athletes.  While it is true that not all players have the genetic makeup to become Olympic caliber speedsters, with proper training all players can and will significantly improve their own speed and strength capabilities. Now, it is time to focus on the two most basic elements of tennis speed. 

In this article, the two general components of speed (distance over time) that will be looked at are stride length and stride frequency. Stride length is the distance covered in one stride while running. In order to increase the length of a stride, maximum force during sprints must be increased. Stride length can be increased through resistance training such as weight training, sled or tire pulling, running uphill, running with weighted vests, plyometrics, elastic cord resisted runs, running with chutes, harness/cord resistance etc. Stride frequency is the number of steps taken over a specific distance or time. In order to improve stride frequency, sprint assisted training such as running downhill or cords that pull the athlete may be used.

When performing drills for stride length and stride frequency it is of utmost importance to make certain that proper running form is not sacrificed. During stride length training, stride frequency must be kept at normal levels and during stride frequency training; stride length must be kept at normal levels. Therefore, the fitness for tennis coach should make sure that the overspeed devices or resistances used are not too great or too heavy for the athlete. 

Please note that for this article we have only placed our focus on getting from point A to point B as quickly as possible. This absolute measure of tennis speed is only one basic element of getting to tennis balls faster. There are many aspects of court coverage that must be looked at when developing a fitness program for tennis. Along with raw speed, some tennis footwork court coverage necessities are reaction, agility, anaerobic conditioning, first step explosiveness, balance, and flexibility.   All of those aforementioned tennis footwork elements should be focused upon and enhanced for a physical conditioning program for tennis program to be most effective.   

 

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J.S. Breaking Down Technique of the Run Through Forehand

April 20th, 2018

Former top 100 ATP player Jeffrey Salzenstein is simply taking tennis movement and technique to a whole different level than most people are used to. This is the real deal! He shows you technique for the run through forehand while keeping good balance. No more stepping and stopping. As an aside, Jeffrey looks pretty darn good as a righty. Must have been all of the non-dominant side forehands he hit as practice for his 2-handed backhand. He is really a lefty!!!

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Tennis Specific Movement Drills-Andy Murray

April 18th, 2018


Those who still run in a straight line for miles really need to check this out. Developing juniors need to work on functional tennis movement patterns without hitting balls. This style of training makes moving much more efficient when one does get to live ball situations. Heck, even pros who have a very well-developed game and movement patterns like Andy Murray do this type of fitness training to become faster and more comfortable for the live ball situations. Depending on the amount of training done and the rest periods involved, this training can be a great conditioning drill as well. Here, the drills are being used to primarily get Andy prepared to play on this particular court surface.

It is not just about hitting balls!!!
Imagine what this does for those who are still in the development process. This type of training is not easy, but the fruits of your labor can be incredible.

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How Specified Should Your Fitness For Tennis Training be?

April 17th, 2018

In general, a fitness program for tennis needs to place focus upon several specific elements. Every tennis player needs a good first step, good recovery and change of direction to the ball and good physical recovery in between points with the capability of being able to last through long matches and tournaments. All tennis players should also focus on keeping their core strong (lower back and abdominal muscles) and take part in an injury prevention for tennis program which focuses upon strengthening the tendons and ligaments surrounding the wrist, elbows, shoulders, lower back, hips, knees, and ankles.  Yes, all of the aforementioned can and should be part of a specific and regularly implemented group or personalized fitness program for tennis.   

Oftentimes, players want individualized attention because participating in a customized for their needs fitness program for tennis, focus can be placed on their specific strengths, weaknesses, and capability. By doing so, results can be obtained quickly.   Prior to starting an individualized fitness programfor tennis, players should definately take part in an age specific fitness for tennis testing protocol. Results from the testing can quickly determine their individual strengths and weaknesses and the fitness coach can use the results asa guiding tool for creating a fitness program.  Anaerobic endurance, lower and upper-body power, quickness, multi-directional agility, core strength, speed and muscular imbalances should be the focal points of the tennis specific testing.

Note:

 Once a players strengths and weakenesses are determined, those weaknesseses need to become the focal point of their fitness for tennis program. The players age and style of play will also play a major part in what their physical needs for tennis are.

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1 foot + drill 1234

April 16th, 2018

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This is a Good Example of Tennis Specific Movement Training

April 16th, 2018

I am an advocate of this style of training. If you are not being pushed and practicing in this manner then you are simply not going to improve your on court movement. There are a few technical elements that I may change and I would add in some reaction drills to the mix, but all in all a great clip on tennis movement. I would also not allow players to be keeling over and showing that they are tired. I don’t care how tired they are. That is simply not good practice and if one shows that they are tired during matches it will simply give the opponent confidence to run you around some more.

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The Run Through Approach

April 14th, 2018

Jeff S. shows you perfect approach shot technique with the run through forehand. Anyone who is familiar with Jeff’s playing style knows that this former top 100 player on the ATP tour can get into the net and finish off points with a big volley. Don’t be surprised when this guy becomes the next big coach. He has a real grasp on both modern tennis technique and footwork.

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When To Train

April 8th, 2018

Tennis is an extremely physically demanding sport. Therefore, you need to prepare for it by incorporating an effective fitness program for tennis into your total tennis training.  One oftentimes-confusing question is “What time of day should you do this?” There are (4) schools of thought for this. Let us examine each of them.

The 1st school of thought is to work out early in the morning before playing.  Working out prior to playing may make the player slightly fatigued for their playing session. This is not a bad thing. Here’s why: Since it is commonplace for players to be fatigued during tough matches, learning to push yourself while being a bit tired simulates this match play situation.  

            The 2nd school of thought is to workout after playing. Working out after playing can be tough both physically and mentally, but doing so can help the body become well adjusted to fatigued conditions that occur during match and tournament play.

The 3rd school of thought is to sandwich your workout between your morning and evening tennis sessions.  You will tend to be a bit fatigued for the workout, as well as the 2nd tennis session of the day.  Again, pushing the body and becoming adjusted to these slightly fatigued conditions can be quite helpful for those long tough matches.  Sandwiching your workouts will afford you the opportunity to play tennis in a fresh and slightly fatigued state on the same day.

The 4th school of thought is that it just does not matter.  Although we would tend to agree with this 4th school of thought, the time to play and perform fitness training for tennis should be a decision made by the player and coaches.  We train some players first thing in the morning, and we train others between tennis training sessions.  We also train clients after all of the tennis is finished for the day.  In all cases the players have greatly improved, thus our hands-on conclusion that the time of day you decide to do your physical conditioning for tennis doesn’t affect the results.  The decision should be based on the confidence a player has in a certain daily routine. Lastly, the decision may be based on the player’s daily school, work, and tennis schedule.

When you choose to do your fitness training for tennis or play tennis is up to you. Perhaps the most important things to remember when doing this amount of physical activity are proper fueling/nutritional habits and sleep. You must make certain to get a good night of sleep prior to taking part in a long day of strenuous physical activity. Although individuals vary in the amount of sleep they need, it is usually necessary to get approximately 8 hours of sleep at night. You should also pay careful attention to your nutritional habits and be certain to get enough complex carbohydrates and protein throughout the day.  No matter when you choose to train (tennis and physical), it is absolutely crucial to eat a meal high in complex carbohydrates as soon as you are done with your workout. This will help to replenish your muscle glycogen stores, which are necessary for energy and optimal performance. If you absolutely do not have time to eat after playing tennis or doing your fitness training for tennis, then a high complex carbohydrate containing sports drink should be consumed. We suggest that all of our clients to have a premixed complex carbohydrate drink , and bring it to the courts, or wherever their workouts take place.  As soon as they are done, they simply drink it on the way to the car.  It may also be a good idea to consume a carbohydrate containing sports beverage such as Gatorade™ or Endurox  during the tennis or workout session.

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