Welcome to the Superfit Tennis Blog


Warning: Regular reading of and participation in this blog may give you an unfair advantage by significantly improving your  Physical Conditioning and Mental Strength for Tennis. (This is especially true if you are participating in a Superfittennis Program)  

Introduction to Mental Training

 

No better way than to get an introduction from Dr. Robert S. Weinberg. He was one of my favorite graduate school professors and has more Sports Psychology credentials than 99.9% of all others on the planet. He is also a heck of a tennis player and author of a timeless sports psychology for tennis book entitled “The Mental Advantage: Developing Your Psychological Skills in Tennis. Even though this book was from 1987, it is excellent and I would highly recommend it for those wanting a mental edge for tennis.

the mental advantage Introduction to Mental Training

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

 

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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Crossover Steps Tennis Footwork

 

serviceboxrackettouches1 300x174 Crossover Steps Tennis Footwork

Service Box racket touches drill- while facing the net the entire time how many times can you touch the singles sideline and center service line with your racket in a specified amount of time which is usually not more than 30 seconds (great for practicing and improving your crossover steps and may be used for an endurance enhancement drill)

 

It is amazing that so many hours are spent on technical training skills and so little time is spent on improving ones tennis footwork. Perhaps people do not know how to train tennis footwork properly? If I received a nickel for every time someone came up to me and told me that their son or daughter needed to improve their crissover step for tennis, I would be quite wealthy. Unfortunately, well-intended parents and even coaches oftentimes ask me the best ways to improve explosiveness and change of direction/recovery.  In todays fast paced game everyone understands that it is necessary to explode back towards the middle of the court after retrieving a wide ball.  It amazes me how many people talk about the crossover step and understand that it will help them recover quicker, but do not know how to properly do the crossover step. In order for this aspect of tennis footwork to be performed effectively, it must be performed correctly.  

The video shown above is a good example of a right-handed player using the crossover step when going wide to hit a forehand.  Notice that the crossover step does not need to be used every single time you hit a stroke. It is used on balls that take you out wide, in order to more efficiently get back towards the middle of the court.  When a wide ball is hit to you, take your back let (the one closest to the sideline) and cross it in front of your other leg. Then push off hard and to the side you are going towards with that front leg. This action will spring you back towards the center of the court. Continue Reading Crossover Steps Tennis Footwork »

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Tennis Specific Speed Agility Reaction

 

In this video Torando Ali Black and I demonstrate how reaction, agility(balanced change of direction), and quickness (fast feet adjustments) can be easily practiced. Try doing this for several sets of 20 seconds of movement followed by 20 seconds of rest. Doing so will significantly improve one’s anaerobic endurance. BEWARE: Tornado makes this drill look easy but it is actually not so easy. The player is required to react and change directions quickly and not get too close to the cones.

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Why You Shouldn’t Give 100% Effort

 

Why do so many tennis coaches and parents of players say the following: “You need to go out there and give 100%?   At first glance, that appears like the logical thing to ask of a player. Unfortunately, that is not sound advice because when a player actually does try to give a 100%  effort level the muscles and mind tend to tighten up. That is not conducive to optimal performance on the tennis court.

It is fine for a player to care about playing well and try hard. With that being said, it is also crucial for the player to be in a relaxed flowing state while playing.  It is important to care, be determined, and be  intense as long as the muscles and mind are not tense. This mental and physical tightness does not allow a player to get into a flow state. Continue Reading Why You Shouldn’t Give 100% Effort »

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Tennis Specific Movement Drills-Andy Murray

 


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?

 

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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At what age should my junior tennis playing child start a fitness program?

 

“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?

 

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

 

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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