Develop the strength to get a little extra “oomph” behind your tennis shots by working your upper body. This power is generated through the kinetic chain, first in your legs and then transferred through several body segments and finally to your arms. Your arms are considered one of the weakest links in this chain, according to Dr. Scott Riewald, administrator of sport science with the United States Tennis Association. When doing your weekly strength training workouts, don’t forget this chain link and incorporate forearm, wrist and upper-arm exercises.
Forearm and Wrist Exercises
Do wrist flexions. Sit in a chair with your feet a little wider than hip-width apart. Place a resistance band under the balls of your feet. There should be an equal length of band to the outside of each foot.
Grasp the ends of the band and rest your forearms on your thighs with your hands beyond the front of your knees. If there is no resistance in the band, wrap the ends around your hands until there is some resistance.
Turn your hands so your palms are facing up. To start, bend your wrists and drop your hands below the level of your knees. Next, bend your wrists in the opposite direction and bring your palms up toward your body. Hold the position a few seconds, and then return to the starting position.
Perform wrist extensions. Start as if you are going to do wrist flexions, but instead of your palms facing up, turn your hands so your palms face down. Start by bending your wrists and dropping your hands below the level of your knees.
Bend your wrists in the opposite direction and bring the back of your hands up toward your body. Hold the position a few seconds, and then return to the starting position.
Squeeze a dead tennis ball. This exercise helps strengthen your forearm muscles and improve your grip. Squeeze the ball as hard as you comfortably can and hold the squeeze for five seconds. Relax and repeat.
Strengthen the muscle in the front of your upper arms with biceps curls. Grasp a dumbbell in each hand, stand up tall and hold the weights to the outside of your thighs with your palms facing forward. Bend your arms and draw the weights up to your shoulders. Hold the position five seconds, slowly lower the weights to your thighs and repeat.
Do triceps extensions to strengthen the muscles in the back of your upper arms. To start, hold the end of a dumbbell with both hands and stand with your arms extended over your head. Keep your elbows close to your head and lower the weight behind your head. Extend your arms, raise the weight to the starting position and repeat.
Perform chair dips. Sit in a chair and scoot forward to the front edge. Bring your feet together and place your feet flat on the floor. Position your hands on the front edge of the seat next to your thighs. Bend your elbows and lower your body toward the floor until your elbows are bent 90 degrees. Push up with your legs and arms, return to a seated position and repeat.
- Perform two sets of 15 reps with each exercise.
- Complete the exercises two to three times each week with a day of rest in between sessions.
- If you have or have had tennis elbow, consult your doctor or physical therapist before starting arm-strengthening exercises.