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World Tour Finals 2013: Novak Djokovic winning

The 4 Fitness Ingredients of Every Victorious Tennis Player

02/11/2015, 5:00am PST
By Kelvin Cech

Look in your opponent's eyes and say "I'm better than you."


Think of the elements common to successful people at your job. What qualities do the “good ones” possess?

  • Hard work?
  • Dedication?
  • Punctuality?

What about the ability to admit to and overcome mistakes? 

There’s always a bottom line in every line of work. A base of qualities employed by those who are headed straight to the top. 

When it comes to sports the same rule applies. The difference is that the baseline is physical rather than mental. Therefore, because the baseline is physical, it can be improved upon.

Sure, hard work, dedication and showing up to the rink or court on time will certainly have a positive effect on an athlete’s ability to win, but possessing those intangibles won’t physically contribute to a better serve or quicker feet.

Being faster, stronger and smarter, on the other hand - these are ingredients of success for any athlete. 

Here are the four ingredients in the recipe for a victorious tennis player.


Tennis is a game of sudden movements in every direction. Back and forth, side to side, up, down - the tennis players who win more than they lose have quick feet and a quick mind to match. 

Exercise options: agility ladder exercises, one-foot hops, kettle bell lunges

2. Core Strength

Where does that agility originate? Not from your legs - your core. Dryland training and off-court development has come a long way in the past two decades. Gone are the days of simply bulking up the arms and legs, replaced with functional strength applied to an athlete’s core. 

Serving the ball? Starts in the core.

Passing a puck? Starts in the core. 

With an engaged torso - hips, abs, back - the limbs are supported and injected with energy, thus more capable of doing their job: smashing the ball down an opponent’s throat.

Whoa, sorry. The competitive juices are flowing this morning, I’m getting myself all fired up!

Exercise options: medicine ball sit-ups, plank circuit, kettle bell lunges

3. Speed

Tennis is a pure, raw sport. Just a person with a racquet trying to chase down a small green ball faster than their opponent. An tactical game can make up for a lack of speed for awhile, but eventually ever player is going to meet an opponent who possesses the same intelligence. The more speed you have to get to loose balls, the tougher the match becomes for the athlete on the other side of the net. Speed makes every aspect of your game more lethal.

Exercise options: agility ladder competitions, spin-bike conditioning, explosive footwork, cross-country running

4. Flexibility

Flexibility is similar to agility in that an increase makes dynamic movement easier to achieve. When your flexibility is increased, your ability to reach for shots and recover from returns is increased. 

Man, all that stretching out, reaching and straining to stay alive in a match - you know what the real benefit of flexibility is?

Avoiding injury.

Stretching is as important to training as lifting weights or riding the bike. With proper dynamic stretching, our bodies mould to fill in our newly stretched muscles so that the next time we reach for a ball we’re not over-extending ourselves. 

Exercise options: scorpion stretch, good ol’ fashioned toe-touches, yoga

5. Stamina

What if your opponent possesses all of these elements as well? They can switch directions as efficiently as you, they’re just as strong as you and they can track down your shots at the same rate. It’s a stalemate with no immediate advantage either way, right?

Stamina is your friend. Being able to recognize an even matchup in both the physical and mental sense has won championships for plenty of tennis players over the last century. If you can keep your breath and your wits about you longer than your opponent, chances are good your physical skills will hang in there long enough to end the drama in your favour. 

Exercise options: running up the Grouse Grind, sticking to a workout schedule, spin-bike conditioning

The Wrap

Put all these ingredients together and you’ve got the ultimate killing tennis machine. Quick, strong, adaptable and built for the long haul. Tennis is about making small improvements on a consistent basis, both on the court and in the gym.

What are you working on this spring?

Did you know you can improve all these physical elements at HybridStrong? Either on your own, with a trainer or with a group.

Get started on your body today! Contact us ->


photo credit: IMG_6779 via photopin (license)

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