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Tennis is a game of many short, sharp sprints around a relatively small court. It also requires arm muscles to have a high endurance in order for you to play the ball accurately and powerfully for a long period of time. Tennis fitness training focuses on simulating a match by utilizing short bursts of intense exercises followed by a short recovery time. Increasing muscle endurance as well as overall body endurance is also essential — especially for long matches.
Shuttle runs are one of the most effective ways of increasing tennis fitness and will help to improve your body’s ability to run short distances quickly. Begin by placing four or five cones at an increasing distance from the start point with around 6 feet (2 meters) in between each one. From the start position you should sprint to the first cone before jogging back to the start. Then sprint to the second cone before jogging back again and repeat until you reach the last cone. A variation on this is to jog backward when returning to the start point.
Other exercises for explosive power and tennis fitness include ghosting, where you play an imaginary rally against invisible opposition on a real court, and ball runs. To perform ball runs you should stand facing away from a partner who then throws a ball in a random direction. As soon as the ball has been thrown you should turn and sprint to it as quickly as possible.
Although speed and agility are important in tennis, it is difficult to win without a high level of cardiovascular fitness and general endurance. A match between evenly skilled players will often be won by the player who has the best overall fitness. For this reason general tennis fitness and endurance exercises such as long distance jogging or swimming are also useful for tennis players.
A tennis match can last up to three hours and consist of a huge number of different shots and rallies. For this reason endurance of the arm muscles is important. Although there are a number of different exercises that can be performed to increase muscle strength and endurance, it’s generally thought that practicing real shots is the most effective when it comes to tennis fitness. Although it isn’t always possible to practice with a real partner a tennis machine can be used in order to provide repetitive and realistic training. As with most sport-specific training playing the game is the best way to improve fitness.
I had a tennis coach who had a track background and he recommended doing plyometric exercise to develop endurance and burst speed.
Plyometrics are basically a series of runs that use exaggerated motions like high knees or butt kicks or large leaps into the air. When done as a circuit they develop all the little muscles in the leg that are crucial for burst speed and strength over a long set. It did a lot to boost my game and it is now a permanent feature of my training regiment.
Lots of tennis players neglect their cardiovascular fitness but this is crucial to developing your game. It doesn't matter how strong you are, if you don't have the endurance to play at a peak level through a long game you are sure to begin losing matches.
I would recommend a regiment that includes long runs for endurance as well as bursting interval training to develop sprinting speed. This has to be augmented by weight training to develop strength but it is an equally important component. If you can outlast your opponent you can being to capitalize on their mistakes.
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