Tennis has the unique distinction among sports of constantly blending different types of fitness needed to play it at the highest level. Tennis players must often be on the court for 2-5 hours, but they also must be capable of short bursts of power, such as the movements used when serving, snatching a volley, sprinting to the net or retrieving a lob.
For that reason, conditioning for the sport must also have a blend of exercises that build endurance but also explosion.
In other words, one or the other will not do when creating a training plan for tennis players—both are needed.
Varying the Training for Tennis Players Depending on the Time of Year
The other interesting aspect of training for tennis players is the length of their seasons and the types of activities that should be engaged in when matches are not being played. Because of the heavy strain placed on the rotator cuff, for instance, the last place a tennis player should want to be during the off-season is on a tennis court.
That can be a blessing, however, as numerous fitness options open up and players can get refreshed and renewed by engaging in any number of different sports and workouts.
One thing is for sure: any good training for tennis players should be done in different ways at different times of the year. There is certainly no one exercise program that can be followed from January to December.
Training for tennis players must change according to the time of the year and the amount of matches being played. What a top tennis player is doing in January will differ greatly from what s/he is doing in July.
Cardio and Weight Training Tennis Workouts
Given that tennis requires such different types of fitness, the types of workouts needed to prepare a top player for anything will also need to vary drastically.
Logic might have you think that any good training for tennis players will feature routines where cardio is mixed with heavy weight training in order to achieve a good balance.
In reality, however, any trainer worth his certificate will tell you that mixing such different exercises can often negate the gains of each.
Thus, one day’s routine needs to be heavy on the cardio stamina exercises, another on muscular endurance and yet another focusing on recovery conditioning.
Incorporating Different Training for Tennis Players
Thus, good training for tennis players will not only include different workout routines for different months of the year, it will also be comprised of different workouts for different days of the week. Variety is the spice of life and the key to effective training for tennis players.
That said, let’s take a closer look at the types of workout routines that should be including in training for tennis players, starting first with aerobic workouts:
Training for Tennis Players: Aerobic Workouts
When considering training for tennis players, be sure to include lots of aerobic workouts during the off-season before you focus on building up high-twitch muscle fibers and increasing capacity for anaerobic recovery.
To build the aerobic base needed for tennis, jogging, swimming and cycling have been long-time favorites of players, as well as soccer (many tennis players fancy themselves to be stud soccer players, and the common emphasis on footwork does help a lot).
These types of exercise give the shoulder a nice break and earn players a wonderful mental rest period as well.
For that reason, it should again be noted that building up one’s aerobic capacities should not be done on the tennis court during the off-season. Some players believe that if they hit continuously for an hour or two, they’ll find long matches to be a breeze. What happens, however, is lactic acid is built up in the muscles and the central nervous system grows extremely fatigued, resulting in lazy footwork, lots of wrist in the shots and late contact points.
Any player who has gotten tired on the court knows exactly how this feels; the symptoms look quite familiar. Hitting for long periods of time in the off-season can lead to terrible habits and breakdowns of certain body parts, including the shoulder, wrist and elbow. Change up the sport to increase your aerobic capacity. To make this even clearer, remember this tip: all aerobic conditioning during the off-season should be done without a racquet in your hand!
Training for Tennis Players: Muscular Endurance Workouts
Now that your wind has been built up thanks to those long hours of cycling and time on the StairMaster at the gym, you need to train your muscles, too, for long matches. Muscular endurance is quite different than aerobic capacity, and it needs its own set of workouts to focus on it. Many players have found circuit training to be the best solution for building muscular endurance.
Here is a sample of such circuit training:
Warm up with moderate muscle movements such as racket swings, butt kicks or jogging in place.
Perform three or four exercises (which are described below) at about 50 percent of your intensity for 30 seconds each.
Take a two- or three-minute break to recover, then start another set of exercises.
Cool down after this workout and stretch. All tennis players need to be extremely flexible, and stretching will help you to rotate your torso better and stretch your arms more easily for longer backswings.
These series of training for tennis players are ones that you can adopt for circuit training include dumbbell or resistance band exercises, jumping jacks, burpees, skipping rope, pushups, crunches, pull-ups or line-to-line runs drills on the court. Many players prefer resistance bands to dumbbells, by the way. They more precisely target the muscles used in tennis, especially the muscles used in overheads and serves.
Adding Core Strengthening Exercises to Your Tennis Workout
Many of these aforementioned training exercises for tennis players help strengthen the core, which does not receive enough publicity in training for tennis players. Your core will be key to rotation on your serve and ground strokes.
Players that have powerful ground strokes and serves do not simply have strong arms and shoulders, or even stronger legs than the average player.
They do have a tight core, which creates a more dynamic coil when they rotate for serves and ground strokes.
A powerful serve does not start with biceps curls. It starts with core workouts like crunches, push-ups and planks.
Training for Tennis Players: Power Workouts
Tennis requires many movements of explosion, so exercises that can buttress that dramatic release of energy are recommended. Top players often do a combo of box squats, regular squats and box jumps. To do a box squat, sit on a box or other elevated, stable base and raise a barbell by standing up. Use about 50 percent of your normal maximum weight to prevent back strain.
For box jumps, stand in front of a bench or box about knee height and jump on the box with both feet. You can raise the level of the box as you improve. To improve a different type of explosion called reactive power, jump off the box, then jump back into the air as high you can.
Another type of squat can be done with weights from a standing position. You lower yourself about halfway, then jump up as high as you can with weight either on a bar across your back or contained in ankle weights or other options.
Training for Tennis Players: Anaerobic Workouts
To improve your anaerobic conditioning for tennis, run sprints. Try training at 80-90% of your maximum intensity for 30 to 90 seconds, then rest about three times as long as your sprint. This matches the rest/recovery ratio that occurs in a tennis match.
For hitting drills to build an anaerobic base, have a partner feed you short balls that require you to run forward three or more steps, hit the ball, then sprint back to your starting position. Repeat this pattern for 30 seconds with no stopping, then take a 90-second break before recommencing, again matching the 30-90 ratio discussed above.
With this menu of blended exercises and different training for tennis players, you should be able to reach a fitness level that will help you greatly in the midst of matches. Any training for tennis players should have different periods and exercises to build an aerobic base, an anaerobic base, muscular endurance and power.
Achieving the right mix of these training for tennis players will get you into better shape than you could imagine so that your will, strength and endurance will give you the edge you need throughout the coming season.
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