The Best Exercises for a Tennis Player
By Brad Murrow
, last updated January 4, 2012
The best exercises for a tennis player are those that mirror the movements and pace you experience during a match. Aerobic exercise and weightlifting are fine for the offseason, but tennis is aerobic and uses high-twitch muscle fibers, so long-distance running can interfere with in-season performance, according to Dr. Jack Groppel, a member of the U.S. Tennis Association’s Sport Science Advisory Committee. Create tennis-specific workouts with the right core, speed and conditioning exercises. Start creating exercises from tips in this article.
Tennis relies on trunk rotation to generate racket head speed on groundstrokes and your serve, so add core exercises to your training. Russian twists are easy to do standing or sitting. Hold a 2 or 3 pound medicine ball at arms’ length and turn slowly to one side using your core muscles, not your shoulders. Hold for two seconds, and then return to center. Turn to the other side, pause and return. Do this 6 times.
Stand about six feet away from a wall and hold your medicine ball to one side, hip high. Toss the ball against the wall and catch it off the fly, imitating your forehand swing. Do this 10 times, then switch to the opposite side and throw the ball using your backhand motion. Finish throwing the ball from your shoulder, over your head, using your serve motion.
Don’t forget about crunches, reverse crunches, bicycle kicks, hip raises and oblique crunches!
Pushing off the ground during your forehand, backhand and serve accelerates your racket and adds power to your shots. Practice box jumps to improve your explosive power. Stand in front of a box or bench that is about calf height and jump onto it with both feet 10 times.
Improve your reactive power by jumping off the box or bench and jumping into the air as high as you can when you land. Do this 10 times per set. Try reactive squats, using roughly 1/3 of the maximum weight you can lift for normal squats. Bend down halfway to a normal squat, and then jump up as high as you can.
It’s important to train your ability to recover between points. Run as fast as you can for 30 seconds, then walk back to your starting point. Repeat the dashes over the course of 5 minutes. Your starting work/rest ratio should be 1:3, meaning 30 seconds of high intensity sprinting with 90 seconds of recovery. As you get into better shape, you can run longer and rest less.
Work on your footwork while you sprint train with a spider drill or using a rope ladder. For a good spider drill, start at the baseline at the center mark. Shuffle to one sideline and hit a shadow tennis stroke, then shuffle back to center with good balance. Run forward to where the sideline meets the baseline, hit a shadow stroke, and then retreat backward to the baseline, on balance. Run forward to where the 2 service boxes meet and take a shadow swing, and then shuffle back. Run forward to the opposite sideline at the service line and shuffle back. Finish running to the opposite sideline straight across from your starting position, then shuffle back.