Key Strength Training Exercises for Tennis Players
Strength Training is vital for tennis players to last long in the game and also to maintain power and mobility for long matches. Here are some key exercises that tennis players should be doing in there weekly routines.
General strength (toning) training a good start is 3 x 8 reps and build up to 12 reps over a 6 week period. If you go heavier that means you will get more power but less endurance i.e. 5 reps . Going for a longer time i.e. 45seconds is great for endurance but will require less strength, so it depends on what your goal is…..
1 – Deadlift
This exercises is similar to a squat and works on ‘triple extension’ which is a buzz word in the strength world. This means there are 3 body movements happening to help lift the weights…extension ankles, knees and hips. The move requires good balance using the core, co-ordination of using more than one movement and strength of course to light the weigth. The combination of these three movements can help players have a explosive start to running to a ball, jumping for a smash and changing direction.
Alternatives – back or front squat
2 – Lunge
The lunge is vital for picking up low balls, sprinting and helping with leg drive in shots. The side lunge is a great alternative and often neglected as s key exercise. Tennis players move side to side yet this movemnt is often overlooked . A great exercise is to lunge in different directions from i.e. step towards 12 oclock then 3, 6, 9 and back to 12. Weights can be used for a harder challenge but make sure you get a body weigth squat right first by checking in a mirror and everything is inline.
Alternatives – Lunge to high knee, split squats, skip into a lunge
3 – Plank
The core muscles that help you balance your body are widely known to be Federer and Djokovic’s secret weapon. Such players are not big muscle players but have unbelievable core to help with quickness, and agility and quality stroke production .There is no point hitting the ball hard if you not balance and engange your body efficiently when hitting shot. The normal plank with the body in a straight line should be a starting point with players challenging themselves to planks with twisting. Tennis players twist a lot so going into side planks and using rotational movements can help with producing more force for shots.
Alternatives – side plank, front to die twist, thred the needle,
4 – Medicine Ball throws
Using a weighted ball, football or even just throwing a dumbell (not indoors) can help mimic tennis shots and help players focus on correct & effieicient body movement. The movement involves a combination of leg drive and hip rotation to help generate power, a great alternative is a woodchop which is a diagonal movement which can be down by using weights if there is no space / no medicine ball to hand. Using one leg when throwing the ball like a forehand or backhand can help improve balance and proprioception on the foot, this little adjustments can make a difference in hitting a winner and making a unforced error.
Alternative – Wood chop, resistance band twists
5 Chest and Rear Fly
Bulletproof shoulders are essential for hitting 100’s of balls in a match. The repetitive movements if weak can get damaged and lead to long term injuries and stopping you play. The rear and chest fly is great essentially for forehands and backhands and equalises the shoulder muscles rather than being dominant on the front. Rarely the back muscles are stronger in tennis players so the rear fly may require a lighter weight or resistance band to start.
alternatives – chest press, row pull
6 – Shoulder press & Lat Pull down
‘Push’ exercises should be paired up with the ‘pull’ alternative. The shoulder press is vital for serving for example to create racket head speed up to the ball. After the contact the pulling action back down helps maintain the racket head speed through the ball before declaration and eventually stopping. If only the shoulder press was done and focus on the ‘acceleration’ to the ball then you will soon get injured, it is vital the body can eccentrically contract after the ball is hit i.e. when the weights are lowered to the start position