Feeling competitive on the tennis court is a big reason why we join leagues and play tournaments. Knowing we can compete and play for something meaningful makes the sport something we look forward to every week. With the weather starting to allow for more match play, it’s time to get training so you can feel as competitive as possible for your upcoming matches.
Below I wanted to give suggestions on how you can improve your racquet head speed, foot speed, cardio and strength that all relate to tennis. Look at your own areas that need improvement and see if you can implement any of the exercises to improve that area. If you stay consistent with them, you will see results! Happy training!
A. Focus: Racquet Head Speed
- Hitting against the wall: Draw a line 12 – 18 feet from the wall and hit 100 – 200 balls that hit the wall and bounce past the line. Want to make it harder? Make the length longer and/or add more reps.
- Stand 6-10 feet from the wall and hit volleys. If the volley hits the ground before you hit it again, restart the counting. Try to get 20+ volleys in a row.
- Get a 5 foot PVC pipe (skinny, possibly 1/2 inch or 5/8 inch) at any hardware store. Hanging on to the pipe with your dominant hand, use your core, legs and shoulders to swing 10-20 times as fast as you can. The power of the swing comes from the ground up so do not use your wrists or have a very tight grip. Repeat with your non dominant side.
- On a tennis court, drop feed balls at the baseline. Hit 100 forehands cross court and 100 backhands cross court. Do the same down the line. Try to add spin as best as you can. To challenge yourself, try to make the ball hit the back fence after bouncing only once on the court. This will make you hit harder and with more spin to make that happen.
Reason For Training: The exercises are to develop a stronger core and hands to have the racquet feel lighter and easier to maneuver so you can create more power and spin on the ball.
B. Focus: Lateral Speed
- On a court or a grass field (I like soft surfaces to protect the joints), have your racquet and start in the middle of the court (or field with cones on both sides). Turn and run to one side like you are about to hit a forehand or backhand. Once to the sideline, swing and side shuffle back to the middle and repeat to the other side. Do this as fast as you can for a total of 6 – 8 times or until you fatigue and cannot do the exercise fast.
- Jump rope. 300 to 500 skips. As you improve, add challenges like jump roping on one leg at a time. You can also add pushups for every time you stop.
- When practicing on the tennis court, focus on split stepping when your training partner hits the ball by taking a small hop. The timing of the split step should be when you land on the court with your feet and the player on the other side of the net has made contact with the ball.
Reason For Training: Speed kills. To get faster on the court and have the leg strength to do so is important. If you are sore, make sure you double down on the mobility and keep the glutes/hamstrings strong. That’s the motor you use for speed.
C. Focus: Cardio/Stamina
- Run 3-5 miles a week. Try alternating run/walk if that keeps you moving. Progress to running hard and walking and then running/jogging to keep the heart rate up but also time to recover. The harder the training the better.
- Get on a rowing machine. It is easier on the joints. Row for 10 – 20 mins a week.
- Get on a bike. Same idea as #2.
- Get on a ball machine and try to hit consistently for 5 minutes straight without standing still. Meaning do not have the ball fed to you, make sure you have to move to the ball to hit.
- Same on the wall, hit at an angle on the wall so the ball doesn’t bounce straight back to you.
Reason For Training: You win in the 2nd and 3rd set. When matches are close, conditioning is what separates the players. This is what every good tennis player has in their arsenal.
D. Focus: Strength
Training: Incorporate strength training once a week. Some examples include:
- Step ups with weights. Use a chair, a box jump or even steps to step up on while holding weights on both hands.
- One legged squats and lunges are both great to develop not only strength but balance. You might notice a leg that is not as strong as the other. Add more reps to properly develop the weaker side.
- Planks, standing/sitting rotations with bands, hollow rolls and other stomach specific exercises are essential to keeping you healthy on the court.
- To protect the shoulders, use light weights for rotator cuff exercises.
- Tennis is a forward motion repetitive sport so ensure you are doing a lot of pulling exercises such as rows and pull-ups to create a balance of the two movements and stay injury free.
- Back squats, deadlifts and cleans are all ways to develop more strength and explosive power. However, these are complicated movements that should be done with caution and if possible, with a fitness trainer so you don’t get hurt.
Reason For Training: Strong muscles will keep you injury free and allow you to hit the ball harder with less effort.
Have questions about your training? Feel free to connect with me to see what I can offer!
See below on how your return of serve and volley footwork are very similar.