‘Physical Conditioning for Tennis’

Tennis Specific Movement Drills-Andy Murray

March 12th, 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?

March 11th, 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.


 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

March 10th, 2018

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This is a Good Example of Tennis Specific Movement Training

March 10th, 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

March 8th, 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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At what age should my junior tennis playing child start a fitness program?

February 20th, 2018

“My child is too young to be involved with a weight lifting program!  This is one of the most commonly heard objectives of parents who want to improve their junior tennis playing child’s fitness for tennis level, but have extreme hesitations about the safety of weight training.  Lifting weights for the purpose of injury prevention and/or performance enhancement is relatively new to the junior tennis world.  In the past, even professional players were told that lifting weights could cause them to become too bulky to hit tennis balls correctly or move around the court efficiently. Today, most (if not all) professional players take part in a fitness program for tennis.  Junior tennis players would find great benefit if they also participated in a fitness program for tennis.  Most junior tennis coaches and players would concur that choosing correct exercises , utilizing proper form, performing higher repetitions (8-20 repetition) range, and being unter the supervision of a certified and experienced strength and conditioning specialist who understands the needs of junior tennis players can significantly inprove their on court performance and actually prevent injury. Although this weight training for adults is now widely accepted, it is still not widely accepted as an activity that is safe for pre-adolescent children to participate in.

It is now my intention to completely destroy the myth that  ”children should not lift weights.”   If I had a nickel for every time I have heard a parent say that their child is too young or too small to lift weights, I would be quite wealthy.  Parents oftentimes explain their position by claiming that weightlifting will injure the growth plates and therefore stunt their child’s growth. Yes, it is true that if a child participates in low-repetition/high intensity weight training they are likely to get injured and/or cause problems with their growth plates.  On that note, it is important to remember that unsupervised low repetition/high repetition training is not tennis specific and it is not even recommended  for adults to participate in that type of conditioning program. 

I must admit that several years ago even the experts believed that strength training for children was unsafe and ineffective, but there has been a definite paradigm switch during the late 1990′s.   Since that time, several controlled research studies have shown the positive effects and safety of weight lifting for children. The major organizations involved with the “Children Lifting Weights’ movement include reputable organizations such as: The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), and The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has an official stance that participation in a properly supervised weight training program can actually reduce the risk of overuse injuries in youth sports because the weight training helps the child’s muscles and tendons become more resilient and proficient. This simply means that the childs musculoskeletal system becomes better suited to handle the sporting activity that they are participating in.  In June of 2001,  The American Academy of Pediatrics did an extensive literature review on Strength Training for children and adolescents (Vol. 107, NO. 6, Pg. 1470-14772).   From this review, it was concluded that weight training/strength and conditioning is a safe and effective activity as long as it is properly supervised by a professional and credible fitness trainer and it adheres to training specificity in order to meet the particular demands of the sports that they are participating in.   

In December 1996, the extremely reputable National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) put out an official position paper on youth training. The NSCA organization publishes two journals on strength and conditioning and is considered the governing body of strength and conditioning. It is the current position of the NSCA that a properly designed and supervised conditioning program is:

1. Safe for children

2. Can increase the strength of children

3. Can help to enhance motor skills and sports performance of children

4. Can help to prevent injuries in youth sports and recreational activities

5. Can help to improve the psychosocial well-being of children

6. Can enhance the overall health of children

I hope that this serves to enlighten and open up the minds of those who are worried about having their junior tennis playing children participate in a properly designed and supervised strength and conditioning for tennis program.  In my particular strength and conditioning programs with tennis playing children, weights are seldomly used because they are usually not specific to the goals we want to accomplish. In my world, the usual tennis specific conditioning program for a child would consist of medicine ball training, bodyweight training (different types of lunges, pullups, pushups, and abdominal/core exercises), and speed/quickness/agility/ and anaerobic endurance training.    

The age I would have a player begin depends on their maturity level. Some 8 year olds are mature enough to begin a conditioning program, while some 13 year olds are not mature enough to begin a fitness program for tennis.  The child must be capable and willing to listen and do only what the strength and conditioning for tennis coach tells them to do.    

One would be absolutely silly to stay away from doing a proper  fitness training for tennis program that at least focused on elements necessary for preventing injuries,  increasing tennis speed, tennis footwork, and tennis agility.

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Functional Training: What is it?

September 11th, 2011

Functional Training may be one of the most overused and least understood terms in the history of physical conditioning.  Quite frankly,  it does sound quite impressive, but what in the world is functional training?  Simply stated, functional training is training the body for the purpose of enhancing a specific activity. Tennis specific functional training  focuses on the muscles, movements, and energy systems that are specific to tennis. The majority of a functional training program focuses on the training of movements similar to the sporting acivity.  Performing exercises that isolate the training of a specific muscle and are not functional generally have no place in a fitness training for tennis program. 

In the following video by trainer Todd Norman of Cutting Edge Sports Training, demonstrates one good example of a functional for tennis exercise. This is exactly the type of fitness training for tennis that creates real results that you can see on the court.  The following will explain why this would be considered a functional training for tennis exercise. Continue Reading Functional Training: What is it? »

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Great Tennis Specific Medicine Ball Exercises

June 14th, 2011

Great video that is brought to you by Ian Westerman of www.essentialtennis.com and personal trainer Steve Beck. This Video shows you some simple and functional fitness for tennis exercises that can add power to your forehands, bachands, serves, and volleys. I would simply suggest that you make certain to not do too much when starting out and slowly progress from a lighter medicine ball to a heavier one over time. Doing 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps of these fitness for tennis exercises should be done 3x a week for optimal results.

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Fitness Testing for Tennis

March 31st, 2010

Bellbottoms were the trend of the 70’s, big hair was the trend of the 80’s, cell phones were the trend of the 90’s, and now the trend is “the fitness test”.  Fitness testing for tennis players is becoming trendy and every self proclaimed expert or Joe Schmoe is giving them.  It is great that players are being tested in the areas of fitness that are specific to tennis (flexibility, power, quickness, speed, agility, balance, and anaerobic/aerobic endurance), however these test are not being utilized to it’s maximum potential. 

Tennis players are being compared to other players in their age group, and are scored on a “poor” to “excellent” continuum for each fitness area based on their test performances.  It is acceptable to show players what their current physical strengths and weaknesses are, but this is not enough. What is a player supposed to do once they are given their evaluation scores?  What specific exercises should the players choose to do in order to bring up their weaknesses and enhance their strengths?  How many sets and repetitions does the player need to do?  What should the order of exercises be?  How many days a week and how long should each training session last? These are the questions that a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist who has a great familiarity with functional training for tennis can help you with. 

It is unfortunate that many athletes who take these tests hire unqualified trainers or just try to train themselves. When the aforementioned choices are made, the best case scenario can be stagnation and the worst case scenerios can be either burn out, or injury.  The reverse end of the spectrum is the athlete who under trains, thus not achieving needed results.  For these reasons, your Conditioning Specialist will consider such factors as biological age, level of present physical conditioning, practice and tournament schedules, and specific goals when prescribing exercise.   In other words, the player can use the test as a guide to help them begin, or enhance an existing exercise regime.

Next time you take a fitness test, make sure that the person administering the test can help you to formulate a fitness for tennis game plan from the test results.  If this is not the case, we strongly urge you to NOT take the test at all.

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