Not only will a tennis training plan emphasize and outline a clear goal, but it will keep the athlete on track to make sure that he or she is going in the right direction. Everyone knows that a goal must be outlined with a step by step “action plan” to make sure the person is on the right track, and this is the crucial role that a tennis training schedule plays.
Because tennis calls for such a wide variety of movements that tax so many different parts of the body, a tennis training schedule needs to plan for building both strength and endurance, as well as mix in enough court time to keep it all relevant.
The buffest guy in the world will not be a force in tennis if he does not have hand-eye coordination or know how to hit a backhand. In the same way, stroke and serve development need to progress along with fitness level if maximum impact is to be made.
The tennis training schedule varies from month to month; some months are almost solid tournament playing times, others are fairly quiet and will free up much time on the schedule for on- and off-the-court workouts. A good tennis training schedule will vary according to the time of year and the demands on the player.
With that said, let’s dive into a typical tennis training schedule for an advanced player:
Off-Season Tennis Training Schedule
During the off-season, tennis players often appreciate the break from their sport. This opens up the door to lots of cross training, especially those that do not require a throwing motion.
Like the overhand baseball throw, the tennis serve is not ideal for the human body, when done in excess. During the off-season, a player’s shoulder needs almost total rest. One way that many players do that is to amp up their cycling training times. This builds both endurance and muscle and can get you far away from the courts and into scenic areas that perhaps you haven’t noticed before.
Another favorite is swimming, which works all the muscles and builds excellent endurance.
Some shoulders that are tender from a season of playing might not take too well to the different swimming strokes. If you feel pain when you are doing the freestyle, for instance, you might want to limit your pool time. Obviously, another favorite for players around the world is soccer. The shoulder gets almost total rest and the muscles used for both sprints and long-distance running are built up through soccer.
To supplement this type of cross training, a unique mix of workouts can be implemented in full during this down time from playing. Tennis is an anaerobic sport that requires aerobic fitness for the recovery portion.
Thus, some form of sprint training should be done to help you maintain an aerobic base.
In addition to some sprint work, the off-season is a great time to build muscle through heavy weight lifting.
Most power in ground strokes are generated from larger muscles, so the focus should be on increasing lower and upper leg strength. Core strength, as well, is critical to creating power in tennis, so ab work should not be neglected during this time. The following exercises can be used in the gym during the off-season to build solid muscle: squats, lunges, dead lifts, presses and curls. Do 6-8 repetitions in 2-3 sets, fewer as you begin, more as you round into shape.
Pre-Season Tennis Training Schedule
Several weeks before the tournament season begins, you will want to take your newfound muscle on a test drive that approximates the length of a tennis match, combining the endurance and explosion mentioned earlier. To do that, you need to work out with lighter weights and do more repetitions.
Go for 10-15 reps now, rather than 6-8, and incorporate resistance bands into your workouts. These bands are a tennis player’s best friend because they target specific muscle groups that need work, such as the rotator cuff used in all serves and overheads.
Tie the band to a stationary object and pull in a motion that mimics your forehand, backhand and serve. This type of lower-stress workout is perfect for the weeks leading up to your season.
In the gym, you should perform a group of movements from among these exercises: biceps curls, sit-ups or crunches, triceps extensions, push-ups, flies, chin-ups, presses, lunges, squats and pull-ups. Be sure to train upper and lower body areas on alternating days if you are working out every day. Your muscles will need the rest.
Also be sure to continue your core workouts and add more sprint training to your regimen. There are a number of shuttle runs that you can do on the court, placing balls at different spots and running to retrieve them one at a time, touching the baseline every time you place a ball there. You then can take the balls back to their spots one at a time, doubling your aerobic effect as you run.
In these key days before the playing begins, you also need to work on your ability to recover between points.
You can accomplish this through a set of sprints by running for 30-90 seconds, then stopping for 90 seconds, and so on. This will do wonders for your recovery time on the court. As for anaerobic workouts, hit the stationary bike to give your knees a break, do some rope jumping and swim if your shoulder feels good enough. Tennis players also love the jump rope for what it does for their fitness and footwork. Make it your friend, too. This mix will help you to peak in your fitness just as the games begin.
In Season Tennis Training Schedule
During the playing season, your tennis training schedule will differ greatly from the two periods described above.
When you do have time to train, it should mimic the intensity, duration and movements of a point in a match. You will want to stay away from lifting heavy weights; long runs will also be a thing of the past.
Any tennis drills that you do should be performed for 30 seconds at a maximum intensity or 60 seconds at a high intensity. This goes along with the idea that almost all of your training should have a direct correspondence to actually playing the sport.
To maintain fitness during the season, you can continue to do some work to increase your explosive and reactive power as part of your tennis training schedule. A good drill to do both is box jumps. Place one leg on a box, bench or other stable platform, no higher than your knee.
Push off and jump as high as you can in the air, using the leg on the box. Repeat this movement six to eight times, then switch legs. In a similar drill, stand on the box with both feet, then jump off and, as soon as your feet hit the ground, jump as high as you can. Repeat this fun drill six to eight times as well. Giant steps are another excellent movement for building explosion used in tennis. To do this exercise, shuffle across the width of a tennis court with as few steps as possible, maintaining a good speed. Walk back and repeat three times.
Other in-season drills in a tennis training schedule can include rope ladders, dashes, high-knee skipping and “suicides.” As you do all of these drills, do not drag them out. You are working on short periods of extreme movement spaced by short recovery times.
Do each drill for seconds, not minutes, and give yourself enough time to recover, estimating the time between points in one of your typical matches.
This year-round tennis training schedule should help you to use your time wisely and efficiently from the dark days of winter to the simmering days of summer.
A quick guide to remember the three seasons of the tennis training schedule are: off-season=heavy weight; pre-season=lighter weight with more reps; in-season=workouts that approximate games.
By varying your routine throughout the year, your body will have the strength and energy it needs in season and the recovery period for your shoulder and psyche necessary out of season. By doing something physical year-round, you will avoid turning into a blob of jelly when not playing. That will make your entrance onto the court that much easier when the first serve zooms in to start next season.
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