How Important is Tennis Specific Fitness?
One more article about tennis fitness is written by Suzanna McGee. Suzanna is a former Ms Natural Olympia bodybuilding champion, currently nationally ranked tennis player and athletic trainer with focus on sport conditioning and injury prevention. Her website is http://www.tennisfitnesslove.com/
For many tennis players and coaches, “tennis fitness training” means cone drills, sprints between the lines and some running in the grass. Although these activities can be a part of fitness preparation for tennis players, they are far away from tennis specific fitness training.
Tennis is one-sided sport and the demands on the body are tremendous. Most players hit open stance forehands, and choose to hit the forehands much more than their backhands. They hit there backhands with closed stance. Just hitting ground strokes, the right hip gets loaded much more than the left hip, which will over time lead to tightness, stiffness and overuse. Then think about your right shoulder and arm when you add serves and volleys and you can see the problem coming.
To continue this example, the right hip gets overused and tight and the left hip and glute may disconnect over time and not fire correctly, which will lead to other joints compensating and thus being overused. You get aches in the knees or ankles. You see the pattern.
Tennis specific fitness training has to address all these issues, in addition to running fast. The players need to focus on training their core and hips, and get them strong, powerful and explosive. They need to be flexible and evenly balanced on both left and right side. That’s a lot of work to do, if you think how many hours a player spends on the tennis court practicing her strokes and competing.
The older the player is, the bigger the chance that he accumulated many imbalances in the body, and therefore flexibility training is extremely important. A regular stretching routine has to be part of daily training program. In addition, self-myofascial release practice should be a part of the player’s repertoire as often as possible.
The younger players need to focus on developing strength and power so they could handle their growing bodies. Basic full-body exercises such as push-ups, squats, lunges, planks, burpees and many other plyometric versions are extremely beneficial. The young players need to develop the animal-like quickness and suppleness. Stretching is an important part of the program for the young ones as it is for the older ones.
The adult players who are not as strong and agile as they should be need to work on their athletic power, explosiveness and overall strength as well. It will help them to move lighter and quicker and lessen the stress on the body, thus prevent future overuse injuries.
I often hear the “excuse” that people don’t have time to workout in addition to their tennis, work and family. It is important to figure out the training schedule so some fitness training will fit it. It’s more important than you can even imagine. A good solution is to do a quick, intense workout directly after your tennis practice. You can do 20-30 minutes of high intensity training and if you do that four times per week, you now have total 2 hours of solid training. Everybody can find 20 extra minutes!
For your inspiration, look at this intense short workout that I often do after my tennis practice. Start with that. As you get fitter and stronger and start playing even better tennis, you will become more motivated to do even more.
Remember, even 10 minutes is better than nothing. Start today and see how quickly the results will come.