You have probably heard and read many articles about the importance of strength training for tennis. But how many of you have actually made the commitment to experience what a proper strength and conditioning program can do for you and your tennis game? No matter what level of tennis player you are, you should incorporate a solid strength and conditioning program into your daily routine.
In order to know the “how,” of this last statement, you need to know the “why.” Ask yourself, “Why are you doing certain exercises? Why are these specific exercises going help with my on-court mobility and performance?” Knowing the answers to these questions is how you can guarantee your workout transfers from the weight room to the court. If you can answer the “why” for the program you are currently following on your own, great! Keep up the great work! If not, then you should consider hiring a Village personal trainer to help you build and execute the correct strength and conditioning program to help your tennis game. The tennis experts at the Village can help answer the “hows” and “whys,” and they can make sure the program is progressing at a rate that will help you reach your physical peak for a certain goal and help you maintain a consistent level of performance on the court.
A workout program, especially designed for tennis athletes, needs to focus on balance, coordination, agility, power, flexibility, and strength. This may, on the surface, sound simple enough. However, as you break down the components of each one by itself, it becomes more complex. For example, ‘strength’ encompasses bi-lateral strength, unilateral strength, vertical/horizontal push strength, hip extension strength, vertical/horizontal pull strength, rotational, and anti-rotational strength. Again, ask yourself, “Does my program incorporate exercises for all these components, and also account for power, balance, coordination, and agility?” If not, I highly recommend reaching out to a personal trainer to help you understand the workouts that includes all of these components.
Tennis is known to be a sport you can play at any age or skill level. However, the longevity of your tennis career is highly dependent upon the health of your joints. I’m sure at one point, many of you have experienced muscle soreness after an intense clinic, match, or weekend tournament or even over-use injuries such as tennis elbow, wrist tendonitis, rotator cuff tears, Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, and knee tendonitis. A proper strength and conditioning program can help prevent and alleviate those symptoms through proper mobility and strength exercises. For example, foam rolling, is one of the most important exercises to help with mobility. How many of you actually do this on your own without being told to do so? How many of you know what muscles you should be foam rolling, and know the correct way to foam roll so it is most effective? The answer to “why” foam rolling is an effective exercise to protect your joints is this: while you are busy pounding your feet on the hard surface of a tennis court, adhesions begin to bind between layers of tissue. These adhesions can cause a muscle to remain in a shortened position, which subsequently increases tension on surrounding muscles and restricts joint range of motion. Regularly, and correctly, using foam rollers helps to release the myofascial adhesions and alleviate muscle tightness to ensure optimal joint ROM and enhance overall movement performance.
The second component to help protect your joints for a long tennis career is strength. Strength isn’t just about getting each muscle group as strong as possible. It’s also about getting muscles groups equally strong to help support the joints they surround as a whole. This helps to relieve the pressure put on your joints due to the surface of the court and movements involved. For example, if you only have strong quads but weak glutes and hips, then you are creating an imbalance that can cause strain through the knee joint since it has to overcompensate for lack of strength you may have in your posterior chain. A proper strength and conditioning program should balance glute, hip, adductor, abductors, and quad exercises so that each muscle group is firing appropriately, and one isn’t compensating for another. The same holds true for a balance between chest and back muscles, and the impact those imbalances may have on rotator cuff injuries. At the Village, all personal training clients receive a proper movement assessment by a professional that helps pinpoint discrepancies in your movement. From there, the trainer can create a program that’s appropriate for your body to help balance out any over and under active muscles you may have.
A personal trainer can teach you how to care for, properly recruit, and strengthen muscle groups so they support your movement on the tennis court, keep you mobile, and injury free. In addition to increasing the longevity of your tennis career, a professionally designed program can also improve your performance. Wouldn’t it be nice to no longer be one step short from getting to a drop shot, or finally be quick enough to run down that lob from an opponent? Implementing the appropriate speed and agility drills can get you to that drop shot, and may also get you there fast enough to make an offensive shot, as opposed to a defensive shot.
Some of you reading this may just be recreational players who only like to participate in drills and clinics and may not see the importance of what a proper strength and conditioning program from a certified personal trainer can do for you. However, I’m sure even while participating in drills you have times where you felt frustrated or discouraged by how you were playing, and even though you have the strokes, you aren’t executing them properly since you weren’t set up in the proper position quick enough. A correct training program can even help you play better in clinics because you’ll be stronger, quicker, and have more energy endurance.
Working out with a trainer in either a one-on-one setting or a group setting is also a fun way to get through a workout and it takes all the guesswork out of it! You put in all this time on the court drilling and practicing to get better. But if you don’t mimic the same intensity in the weight room, then you won’t reach your full potential on the court, regardless of how many lessons take. So now ask yourself, “What are you waiting for?”
Learn more about the Village Tennis clubs here!