You’ve got the racket, shoes and killer outfit, and now it’s time to train. You’re ready to improve your tennis game, and you’re willing to work hard for it. So what do you do? You get on a workout plan and start training. By combining court time with cardio exercise and strength training, you can develop an ace of a game and reach your on-court potential.
Tennis Player Needs
Tennis training is unique. Based on the nature of the game, you have to be able to endure long periods of exercise that involve sudden bursts of speed and power. As a player, that means you have to develop your endurance, speed, reaction time, flexibility and the strength of your core, arms and legs. You also have to enhance your hand-eye coordination if you want to make the best and most accurate connection with the ball.
On the Court
In tennis, a big part of your workout plan will involve court time. Under the direction of a coach or trainer, you’ll go through a series of skill-development drills and repetitions including serves, groundstrokes and returns. By working out on the court doing tennis-specific activities, you’ll develop stronger muscles in the areas used most in the sport while also developing your skills and endurance.
In the Weight Room
Because tennis involves total body strength, you’ll have to have a solid weight program. You’ll have to work your legs to make them strong enough to work for several hours with little rest and increase their ability to initiate bursts of power even when you're tired. Your arms and upper body will have to be well-developed in order to swing the racket with force and deliver powerful serves. With so much twisting and turning, you’ll also need a powerful core that can facilitate the movements and also protect you from injury. Try incorporating moves that mimic tennis positions, such as squats and lunges for the lower body and lat pulldowns and lat raises for the upper body.
In the Cardio Zone
Both endurance and speed cardio workouts are must-haves for tennis players. Although running isn’t recommended for general cardio training because of its demand on the already overtaxed joints of tennis players, it is necessary when doing sprint drills and developing speed. For cardio workouts, certified trainer Diane Fields of the National Board of Fitness Experts recommends outdoor activities such as biking and swimming or indoor workouts on the elliptical machine or stair climber.
After graduating from the University of Kansas with a bachelor's degree in sports information, Jill Lee served for 10 years as a magazine editor for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). Also a published author, Lee now works as a professional writer and editor focusing on fitness, sports and careers.