Tennis is a sport that requires a broad fitness regimen. Strength, speed, agility, flexibility and endurance are all athletic building blocks of a tennis athlete. Workout routines designed for tennis need to incorporate training for each of these attributes. Balanced training involves workouts on the court, in the gym and on the track.
Strength provides the power necessary to hit shots with pace and spin as well as the explosive power for sprints and quick direction changes. The legs, core, back and shoulders are important areas to strengthen in your workouts. With a set of dumbbells you can perform exercises to help build the leg strength necessary for the rigors of tennis. For example, hold a dumbbell in each hand and perform forward and backward lunges. Perform dumbbell shoulder presses to strengthen your shoulders and to strengthen your core, perform plank holds.
Speed and Agility
To develop speed and agility, incorporate shuttle runs and footwork exercises into your workouts. Use the following four ball shuttle run to develop speed. Place four tennis balls in a line on the tennis court. Two should be at the ‘T’, one at the net and one halfway in between. Starting at the baseline, sprint to each ball and one at a time pick them up and place them on the baseline. On the last ball touch the baseline with the ball and then return it to its original position. Repeat until all balls are returned. To work on agility, place two cones two feet apart. Start with your feet in between the cones and run in a figure eight around the cones. Try to keep your steps short and quick. Do not knock over the cones. Perform this drill for one minute without stopping.
Endurance is critical for a tennis player, especially in matches that involve long rallies. Because tennis is a sport in which periods of intense exercise are followed by rest periods, your endurance training should be similar. Interval running is a great way to simulate the demands of a tennis match. On a track sprint the straightaways and jog or walk the curves depending on your fitness level. If you have access to a hill or a treadmill that inclines, sprint uphill for 100 meters and then walk down to the bottom and repeat. This interval running will improve your heart rate recovery between points in tennis.
Flexibility serves many purposes in tennis. Having good flexibility helps to prevent injuries, increase power of your strokes and improves your defensive skills. Always stretch all major muscle groups after your workouts to improve flexibility. For example, you can easily stretch your quads by sitting, extending your legs straight out in front of you, bending at your waist and reaching for your toes. Or, hold onto a sturdy object, bend your knee, lift your foot up behind your thigh, reach back and grab your foot to stretch your hamstrings. Many professional tennis players, including Novak Djokovic, use yoga as a way to improve flexibility and balance. Weekly yoga workouts will improve flexibility and range of motion.
Any good workout program should involve periods of rest for your body to recover. Ice any soreness and consult your doctor if you injure yourself in any way. At least one day a week should be free of training to allow your body to repair itself and recover from training. Alternate your training. Instead of doing hard leg strengthening exercises two days in a row, consider spacing these workouts and working on endurance or flexibility the day after leg strengthening instead.