Getting in physical condition for tennis should be done with intentional progression. There is no such thing as “hurry up tennis” or cramming for finals. At any level; however, becoming more physically fit will help your tennis. If you are active in either another sport or fit from attending group exercise classes, you can play tennis as much as your body tells you can. If you have not been active, start easy with cardio classes and build up to longer and more strenuous sessions. Any of our group exercise classes will be a good start. Our personal trainers will also be able to access your physical condition and help you plan a successful course of activity.
Besides cardio conditioning, strength training is essential. Tennis is a repetitive motion sport. Tennis is a centrifugal sport in that many movements cause joints to extend and stretch out. The dominant shoulder of an experienced tennis player will be slightly farther from the neck than the non-dominant shoulder. There is also the impact in tennis. You need to prepare your arms, shoulder, core, and legs.
Training for repetitive motion involves resistance exercise with lighter weights and more repetitions. It is better to have a weight that you can do an exercise with 20 repetitions, feel as if you have worked your muscles, and be able to do more repetitions, but not to have a weight that causes you to get to the point of failure after 12 to 15 reps. Wrist curls, and pronation/supination of the forearm will help to avoid arm stiffness, soreness, and injury.
Rotational injuries occur in the shoulder and back. Wall pushups, rowing, and rotator cuff strengthening exercises train the decelerator muscles in the shoulder to avoid injuries to this area, which is most affected by rotational forces. Core strengthening of abdominals and back get you in shape for the trunk rotational forces associated with modern ground strokes. Crunches, and crunches with a twist are good for the stomach muscles. Lying on the ground and doing the “superman” are good for the back.
Ever notice how pro player’s thighs are usually well contoured? This is resulting from impact on the court and generating power from the ground by bending the knees. Lunges, and lunges with a bar on the shoulders and doing a twist are great for developing your strength in the quads.
By Brian Cheney
Part two of this series will deal with maintaining your “tennis shape.”