Improving your stamina in tennis can be tricky because the traditional methods of doing so include aerobic endurance training, which can interfere with tennis performance. High-intensity interval training, which uses fast-twitch muscle fibers, glycogen and fat in more tennis-specific ratios, not only helps maintain stamina and endurance, but improves your ability to recover after points. Save aerobic exercise for the off-season and use interval training when you’re close to your season or a big tournament.
Create a training schedule that helps you build stamina and endurance through aerobic exercise no closer to one month before your season starts or the start of a big tournament. Schedule interval training to start at least one month before your desired time of peak performance. Do not use aerobic training for more than a month, or end this type of training as soon as you can perform vigorous aerobic exercise for 30 minutes without stopping. Use interval training year-round if you already have an aerobic base and don’t have an offseason.
Warm up before your workouts with two or more minutes of dynamic stretching, such as jumping jacks, butt kicks and arm circles. Avoid traditional, or static, stretching, which consists of holding stretches for 20 seconds or longer, to avoid a temporary loss of power and jumping ability. Warm up until you are breathing hard and your heart is beating rapidly.
Perform aerobic workouts at the highest heart rate you can maintain for 15 minutes without stopping if you are a beginner or out of shape. Start at a brisk walking pace. Add five minutes to your workouts each week to build stamina and endurance, rather than raising your speed and intensity if this won’t allow you to increase the duration of your workouts. Exercise at this heart rate until you can exercise for 30 minutes with only one or two shorts breaks before trying to raise your workout intensity to a jogging speed.
Include aerobic exercise methods that require you to move your feet in multiple directions to make your workouts more tennis-like and to build tennis-specific muscular endurance. Avoid using only jogging, a treadmill or other repetitive-motion exercise. Try aerobic dancing or martial arts routines, plyo-box jumping or vary the cardio machines you use so you can work your muscles differently each workout.
Begin high-intensity interval training to maintain your aerobic base and increase your cardio strength, stamina and ability to recover between tennis points. Exercise at a high-intensity for 30 seconds, then recover with 90 seconds of slow walking. Use multidirectional footwork drills, including rope ladder, spider and plyo box jumping drills. Run dashes, sprint on an exercise bike with low resistance and run the length of a court with giant steps, walking back each time. Play mini-tennis at half-speed in the service boxes, running each other side-to-side. Perform intervals for 10 minutes at the end of each practice or workout.
Increase the speed at which you exercise and the length of your intervals by 15 seconds each week up to a maximum or two minutes. Aim for an eventual target heart range of 80 percent to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate and 15-minute workouts -- this level of intensity is best for well-conditioned athletes. Meet with a health professional to make sure this type of training is safe for you and to determine an accurate target heart range for you in beats per minute.
Cool down after you exercise with several minutes of walking followed by static stretching. End your practices early to get in your cool-down and stretch if you need to leave the courts early, rather than skipping your cool-down and stretch.
Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such Smart-Healthy-Living.net, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.