The sport of tennis requires an abnormal amount of mental focus as well as physical dedication.
… if you want to be good at it, that is. The combinations in tennis are endless - the different shots, the movements, the strategy - all these elements combine to see the world’s best achieve glory in one moment only to see it come crashing down around them because of the tiniest angle of their racquet was off for a split second.
You see, tennis is robotic. The less you think the better you’ll play. Training away from the court will follow you once the match begins, preparing you in advance so your shots come naturally.
Here are ten easy ways to train every day whether you’re a recreational player trying to improve your game or you’re heading into an enormously important tournament.
1. Try Pilates
Tennis requires a complete team effort. And by team I mean arms, legs, core, neck, shoulders, wrists, arms and on and on and on. Pilates routines are dynamic in nature - they get you moving, building your strength from the core outwards.
2. Exercise the Core
In addition to Pilates, focusing exclusively on your core will make every aspect of your life easier, including tennis. Strength starts from our abdomen whether we’re deadlifting a horse or we’re smashing an overhand power-serve down our opponent’s throats.
3. Build Your Legs Every Day
The legs are the first to go when a match runs long. So what are you going to do about it? When the legs start to slow down it’s difficult to think of anything else, and like we said, thinking on the court is your enemy. Exercise your legs daily, from wall-sits to squats to calf-raises.
4. Respect the Fast Twitch
Not only is it important to get to the ball faster, it’s important to get the shot away faster. Again, this highlights the need for a complete body-effort. Being faster with your swing will give you greater accuracy, in turn making your opponent’s returns more difficult. Jumping exercises and explosive movements off the court will help you big time on the court.
5. Hone the Slow Twitch
Slow twitch muscles are those who keep you company when a match starts to drag on. As your fast twitch muscles tire (perhaps because you’ve met your match on the other side of the net), your slow twitch will take over and keep the power flowing. Slow twitch muscle also breaks down more slowly than fast twitch as we age, so pay attention to your body and engage in activities like swimming, jogging or rowing.
6. Watch More Tennis
I love this one. Want to be the boss at your job one day? Pay attention to your boss. Want to improve your stickhandling? Watch Sydney Crosby. Tennis is no different, the best players in the world are sharing their secrets every day, so look up some footage of Milos and Federer duking it out or hunker down after a workout to watch the Davis Cup.
7. Mimic Tennis Movements in the Gym
An appropriate weight-training program is necessary for all serious tennis players, but it’s even more important for up-and-comers or recreational players. Not only will you build strength in the gym, but a specific movement that mimics a certain type of shot or routine on the court will serve you well when you’re on the court.
8. Counteract Tennis Movements in the Gym
While it’s important to perform movements in the gym similar to those you’d pull out on the court, it’s also important to counteract those movements so the other side of your body stay strong. For instance, if you’re a right-hand serve, repeating that moon continuously could leave you with painful back issues due to imbalance.
9. Hit the Track
There’s nothing better than working on your foot speed outside on the track. It’s free, you’re free of other people and all that’s left is your desire to improve. So get down and blast your calves with wind sprints over and over again. You’ll feel amazing afterward.
10. Increase Speed & Maintain Strength
Every athlete could use more strength and more speed. In tennis, it’s more important to focus on speed. It’s a quick game that requires more brain than braun.
When you’re off the court this summer, work on both, just make sure your strength is functional on the other side.
Simple, right? Now get goin'.