How To Get Physically Fit For Tennis


How To Get Physically Fit For Tennis

A well-planned and thorough tennis workout could be the difference between a win and a loss. While tennis is certainly a means of keeping you fit, it should not be seen as the best way get you fit in the first place. It’s a sport that will help strengthen your muscles and joints however, it’s important that you do some supplemental training in addition to your practices.


If you have access to a court, some examples would be to sprint to the net from the baseline and back again. Next, try lunging from one side of the the center line to the other. Jump in the air as if you’re going for an overhead shot and stand on one leg to improve your balance. Tennis coach Brett Able has some great tips for how to prepare playing a superior component.

This training should include two full-body strength sessions per week that target the back, arms, and shoulders, legs and buttocks. Additionally, your workout should not only concentrate on building strength but also building endurance in your stroke through the strengthening exercises. You’ll notice this is essential to your ability to perform well throughout an entire tournament.

In our review of Mark Kovaks’ advice from his USTA approved book “Complete Conditioning for Tennis,” we will highlight some of the fundamental steps in designing an effective training workout for tennis.

What this might look like…

Tip 1: Develop A Needs Analysis

Ask yourself, what is your..

  • Chronological and training age
  • General health status, fitness level and body type
  • Strengths and weaknesses identified by you and your coaches, trainers and physicians
  • Current and previous injuries
  • Tournament and competition goals

Tip 2: Work Out Sets & Repetitions

Typically, 2-6 sets of a repetition is needed to build strength. Performing multiple sets provides high volume training, which helps develop a player’s stamina and strength. Within each set, the optimum number of repetitions is 10-15. The number of repetitions should determine the amount of weight lifted and thus the intensity of the exercise. The higher the amount of repetitions the lighter the weights. To determine this intensity many tennis players use the repetition maximum (RM) system. By practicing RM, an athlete is able to perform the desired amount of sets without breaking form while also feeling significant muscular fatigue by the last 2 sets.

Tip 3: Rest Requirements

In tennis, the average point lasts less than 15 seconds and is followed by 20-25 seconds of rest. Workout cycles should mimk this pattern. A work-to-rest cycle trains the muscles for actual tennis play and stresses the systems used to provide energy to the working muscles.

Tip 4: Practice Periodization

Periodization workout training systematically combines training and competition in order to maximize a players chances of a peak performance. A balance between fitness, muscular endurance, strength, high-intensity training, competition and rest is key.

Here are a few steps for an evenly balanced training regimen. 

  1. Identify the most important tournaments
  2. Identify periods of 6-8 weeks for building strength
  3. Identify a period for active rest
  4. Chart out weekly focal points. For example, during strength building focus on bulding tennis specific endurance, then two weeks before a tournament focus on maximizing power or on-court movement.

Tip 5: Tennis Stretching Routine

The key to an effective training program is a supplemental stretching routine in order to enhance flexibility, athleticism, and prevent injury. The primary muscles groups used while playing tennis are the rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder, the pectorals,  trapezius, the upper arm and forearm, the hips, the quadriceps, and the calf muscles. A forehand stroke for example targets the pectorals, biceps, deltoids, hips, and core muscles.

Even the simplest stretching routine helps promote healthy blood circulation and therefore mental aptitude and coordination. Most importantly, a regular stretching habit will help prevent injuries frequent in the game of tennis. Often times, injuries, such as those in the rotator cuff of the shoulder will painfully shelf a player for weeks at a time.

Lastly, it’s important to bare in mind that stretches in improperly can also have negative effects on your muscles. Over time, they can cause permanent damage to your joints and ligaments. In this 10 minute video by the Stretching Institute outlines the best, most fundamental stretches for tennis players. Try following it after a workout and start to feel the benefits of a limber body.

In his article, Kovak gives in-detail explanations of various strength-building tennis workouts for the lower body, abdomen, shoulders, forearm, and wrist. Integrating these exercises with dynamic warm-ups, flexibility and endurance training, tennis-specific power exercises, a nutritional diet, and hydration regimen will surely maximize your potential as a tennis player. Go through these steps with your coach (coaches with your player) to make sure you’re both on the same page in working towards a healthy and balanced training routine.

Are you ready to take the next step, turn your backyard into a tennis court.


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