Tennis Fitness Training

If there is one thing that Covid lockdown has reminded the sports lovers, if ever it needs reminding, is how much physical activity in general and sport in specific is deeply entrenched in our daily lives and how sorely we have been missing them. Sport to me is the biggest antidepressant out there bar none. It keeps the energy and spirits high and maintains the motivation we all need.

While training for fitness and general well being is one thing, it is quite another if you are training to be fit for a particular discipline.

Whether you’re supremely talented or not, there is no way you can get around the need to work hard, not just on your game, but on your fitness as a whole. Some of the biggest achievers in Tennis were not endowed with divine talent like McEnroe, Sampras or Federer and so they went about accomplishing greatness through sheer hard work. The names that come to mind immediately in that long list are Lendl, Courier, Muster..

Courier once famously said that the ability to work hard is talent. You can’t fault him for that, can you?

So let’s have a look at what Tennis Fitness Training entails and how you go about getting fit and ready for your tennis battles.

How Fit is being Tennis Fit?
Well, that depends on what level your game is. Take a look at some breathtaking stuff on the below video.

Amazing isn’t it? As incredible the shot-making ability of the players on show are, it is awe-inspiring as to how extremely fit they are.

What Does Tennis Fitness Involve?

There are 3 essential ingredients of fitness and each one of them is as important as the other and the absence of any of them would hamper you from becoming the best player you can be. 

  • Physical training
  • Mental training
  • On court practice

Break it down further

What is Tennis Fitness?

The fitness for Tennis can be broadly broken down as below:

  • Lower Body Strength & Explosiveness
  • Upper Body Strength
  • Speed & Agility
  • Core and Rotational Strength
  • Endurance
  • Flexibility

How much you can get out?

Know how far they can go..push more, positive response, body develop more.

Push yourself to the point of being uncomfortable – if you do that regularly, fantastic results..if not slow progress. Drills – compete with someone else..they train harder

Mental approach

Dedication to the task – very important

Hewitt – physical attrib -it’s not speeding, endurance, his ability to work hard, wake up and work hard again on a daily basis.

Mindset – ability to take pain is high. Pain threshold

Types of Training

Strength and Conditioning Exercises

10 reps – Sets, reps, and total load – E.g..3 sets of 10 with 20lbs; 3 sets of 10 with 40lbs – should be related to what your max capabilities are

Make sure sets and reps very close to failure. You can do one more rep (rep range)

  1. abs strength- less total reps, more weights (eg: 6 reps with ma weight)
  2. hybrid – 6-12 (strength occurs)
  3. Over 12 and 15 – for muscular endurance work

Muscular endurance

Another aspect is training for Power – utilizing strength for power so that you can back your forehand/backhand or your serve and return with more power.

Work at low % of max load – 30-60%..low rep range, low wt (lighter, faster, low rep range)

Periodization – formal planning objectively to increase or decrease load throughout a period of time.. optimize training and be prepared for competition. Heavier weeks, lighter weeks, high volume weeks, low vol weeks, doing that in a scientific way can optimize training..without getting injured (at some you breakdown..workload and intensity over a period of time will cause a breakdown..structured periodization is meant to avoid that..monitor the workload, monitor rest..pull back on trng based on numbers..reduce load, intensity..ramping up again..else the body will shut down..fatigue or sick year-round – tennis spec periodization – periodize it – everything every week, there will be a strength day, hypertrophy day, muscular endurance day, power day and structuring the workload and intensity in the scientific way leading to a tournament..planning according to the importance of games (local, big tournaments, etc.)..peak for the important events

Build the foundation where you have good stability, good flexibility, and good strength and then you build on top of that – power, hypertrophy, speed movements..without the base (strength) you will limit your development and put yourself in danger of injuries since power movements are very high velocity and the body would not be adapted to power movements

Types of Injuries & Prevention 

Bulk injury caused muscle contractions (wear and tear – joints, strong and robust body)

(overuse, fatigue, lack of flex and mobility; strength)

Flexibility and mobility – analyze where you are carrying a lot of tension and which part of the body you are fighting, 

Moving, flexing, rotating..sort of mimicking or simulate tennis movements; morning, training, night (static stretching)

Strength training – 2 session a week..weights, dumbells, robust, endurance

Shoulder injury, lower back, knee injury – once a week ..injury-prone twice a week

Prehab – injury prevention program

Good warm-up – there should be enough for the warm-up. People turn up 5-10 min before the practice, just do some nominal stretching, rushing through it – the coach should stress it. No mobility, no activation

10-15 min warmup is needed

  1. Raise core body temp (2) 
  2. Skipping ropes – variations
  3. Mobility – 5-7 specific to tennis (switching on certain parts and exciting some muscles)
  4. Dynamic movements – fast leg shuffles and sprints – 1min
  5. Shadowing – 3 sets of 10 repetitions of shadowing..imagine playing a match (front of the court or back) – 10 shots in point..moving, swinging, rotating for at least 70%, 15 secs, another 10 shots 90%..15 secs..10 shots at 100% recreational – time/money prob – morn fitness, warm-up, strength exercises 20 min after match.

More time – use program on

Shoulder Injury – Depends on what comes out of the diagnosis. For some physio sessions might be enough and in some cases, repair might be needed.

Hip area – lower back, core control the hip, the strength needed there. Common injuries – low back – spine (overuse, the peril of travel, sleep overnight and play next day)

Shoulder – rotator cuff

Ankle – multi-directional game with a lot of friction on the lower body and skin

Injury Prevention

The game is more physical. Shoulder – was very on rotator cuff with a high hand and slice without using the legs and rotate properly; 2 handed backhands has taken away a lot of stress from the shoulder than when players used to play one-handed backhand; train on 2 handed BH

Recreational – play tennis to get in get in shape to play too much wt will not help muscles that tennis players use – rotator cuff, etc. – use very little weight, but the high amount of repetitions (high vol training), avoid overuse injuries If you’re a morning player, do the training after the game in the afternoon so that you don’t exhaust the muscles before you play will work very well since the muscles will have time to recover for the next day.

Peak Athletic Performance

Key Points in Approaching Tennis Fitness

Train for tennis, not other sports or looks
Know your body
Importance of flexibility
Balance & Control

Tennis Books

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