If you’re a tennis player, you’re aware that conditioning is one of the most critical aspects of the game. You can be better than Federer (actually, you can’t), but if you can’t last more than one set, you’re bound to lose every game.
Both players and coaches often overlook conditioning. This article will explore the best workout plans and exercise tips to ensure you are in top form.
One of the best conditioning tips I can give you is to warm up before every match and training session. Trust me; it will improve your overall conditioning dramatically.
A dynamic warm-up helps your body to prepare for an intense session and provides countless benefits for your body. For instance, a dynamic warm-up will increase blood flow to your muscles and improve overall mobility and flexibility, which are vital for success in a tennis match.
Another benefit of a dynamic warm-up is that it will decrease your risk of injury. This will significantly impact your overall conditioning, allowing you to train harder for longer and reduce your off-court time. This is an incredible benefit for something that only takes 10 minutes a session.
A dynamic warm-up is very simple to perform. Here is a simple plan that you can follow:
Jog with Arm Rotations
A simple 5-minute jog will help you to warm up your legs and get your blood pumping. Arm rotations will also warm your arms, reducing the chance of injury as you swing your racket.
Lunges help to stimulate your leg muscles, getting them warm before a challenging session. There are a variety of variations to try too, and one of my favorites is the lateral lunge.
Standing Trunk Rotations
This exercise will improve your balance as it targets muscles in your lower back. Balance is essential in tennis, so you should consider adding this stretch to your warm-up routine.
Endurance Workout Plan
Endurance workouts are integral to any successful tennis player’s regime.
Without a good endurance workout plan, John Isner wouldn’t have been able to win an 11-hour match against rival Nicolas Mahut. So, here’s a comprehensive guide to increasing your endurance.
On Court Endurance Workout Plan
Here are the best endurance exercises that you can perform while on the tennis court:
Practicing your rallies is a way to perfect your form, but it’s an excellent cardio workout. All you’ll need is a partner. Try to hold a rally for as long as possible, mixing up your shots so that each player has to run toward the ball. Shorten your rest periods for an even more strenuous workout.
This exercise is one of the most enjoyable ways to increase your endurance on the court. You’ll need four tennis balls. Place one ball on the sideline, one at the net, another at the service line, and one between these points.
Start at the baseline and run to a ball, pick it up and bring it back to the baseline. Repeat this until all four balls are at the baseline, and then put them back. I frequently do this to finish a session, and it’s perfect for something fun and effective!
Full Match Practice
Sometimes, the most straightforward exercises are the most effective. Playing a full 3 or 5 set match a few times a week will amazingly affect your endurance. Not only will you increase your cardiovascular endurance, but you’ll also learn how to pace yourself, which is a vital skill for all tennis players.
Implementing these simple exercises will have profound effects on your endurance. They’ll also improve your hand-eye coordination, footwork, and court IQ.
Off Court Endurance Workout Plan
Some of the best endurance workouts available occur off-court. It’s a good idea to try a few of these 2-3 times a week, on top of your regular tennis practice. Here are some of the best workouts to try:
Some people may assume that a long-distance run might be the best way to increase endurance off the court, but I would advocate otherwise.
Tennis is a sport that involves explosive bursts and movements, and a fartlek run is just perfect for this kind of activity. Most commonly used by boxers, a fartlek run consists of a sprint, followed by a light jog, followed by a sprint.
I use lamposts to judge when to sprint and where to jog. Try doing this for 15 minutes at a time- it’s a real killer! But, it will significantly impact your endurance, as your body will become used to explosive bursts with short rest periods.
Love or hate them; burpees are one of the best ways to increase your endurance. It’s a whole-body movement that will increase your endurance and improve your explosiveness. Try adding a few at the end of each session, completing more reps as your endurance increases.
British player Tim Henman was an advocate of shuttle runs, and for a good reason. A shuttle run involves a player running between 2 markers placed 20 meters apart for one minute, and they then rest for a minute before completing another run.
Shuttle runs will help you to train the explosive bursts of cardio needed in tennis. They’re also entertaining, especially if you train with a friend.
Find something you enjoy
If you have any other sports that you play, then play them! As long as you’re doing something physical, your overall conditioning will improve.
For instance, I love boxing, and tennis conditioning has seriously enhanced my boxing abilities, even though the sports have no apparent relation.
Strength Workout Plan
A good tennis player is strong, explosive, and powerful. You need a great strength workout plan. For tennis players, strength training is divided between the upper and lower body, and there are some full-body/abdominal exercises to train on different days.
Upper Body Strength Workout Plan
Training your upper body is key for delivering power shots and adding speed to your serve. Here are some great exercises for you to try:
The Bench Press is a weighted exercise that trains your chest, shoulders, and triceps. Start with four sets of ten reps and gradually increase the weight over time. Consistent training with a bench press will dramatically improve the power and speed of your service.
The lat pulldown machine is excellent for training your back. Adding this exercise will help to increase your power and explosiveness, as well as stabilize your back. Tennis players have historically overlooked their back, so that training will decrease your risk of potential injury.
Dumbell presses are a great way to train your chest and shoulders, and there are various options to try. Try some incline and upright shoulder presses if you’re using a flat bench press.
Lower Body Strength Workout Plan
Your legs are crucial to generating power, ensuring good movement, and maintaining balance. Try these exercises to build your legs and improve your game all-round:
The barbell squat is arguably the most complete leg exercise. It builds your leg muscles and forces your body to move with explosiveness and power. Ensure you train with the correct form. You can also try a goblet squat with a dumbbell if you don’t have a barbell.
Box jumps are one of my favorite ways to train my legs. You’ll need a box, step, or sturdy surface to jump onto.
Try ten reps before taking a break. Box jumps will help prepare you for a tennis match’s jumping and diving movements, and they’ll also train your legs to take impact, which is vital when you’re leaping for shots.
Lateral lunges are a great exercise that will train almost every muscle in your leg. They can be made harder with a barbell and help with the lateral movement involved in tennis.
Kettlebell swings are an excellent way to work your lower body and core. Keep your core engaged and glutes tight for maximum training effectiveness.
Full-Body/Abdominal Strength Workout Plan
Full-body exercises are great for ensuring that you’ve worked every muscle and are a great option if you’re short on time. Good abs are also vital in winning a tennis match; they help with stability, balance, and overall movement. Here are some of the best full-body strength workouts to try:
Medicine Ball Slams
Medicine ball slams are one of the best exercises to help you generate power, and they’ll also work your whole body, making them an excellent addition to any workout.
Start with a weight that you can comfortably slam ten times, and gradually increase the weight. Make sure you have the correct form, too, as medicine ball slams can lead to injury if performed incorrectly.
Burpees are perhaps the best bodyweight exercise to train nearly every muscle. They’ll also increase your explosiveness and power and work your coordination.
You’ll also notice increased mental strength and resilience if you push yourself with burpees, as they’re one of the most strenuous exercises you can perform.
Push-ups are one of the most simple yet effective full-body exercises for tennis players, and I always do them! If you implement push-ups into your strength training, you’ll notice greater power, core strength, and speed on your serve.
A plank is my favorite ab exercise. They’re easy to perform, don’t need equipment, and are incredibly efficient. Planks will strengthen your abs.
Crunches are another effective bodyweight exercise to work your core. Make sure you train until you can feel your abs on fire, and work on a yoga mat to avoid back pain or injury.
Bonus Conditioning Tips
Here are three bonus conditioning tips that you might not have thought of.
Diet is Key
You can do all the conditioning workouts worldwide. But, if your diet isn’t proper, you won’t see results.
Tennis players need a high-energy, healthy diet to ensure optimal performance. Ensure you have a good amount of lean protein and vegetables in your meals, as these foods will help your body recover from training. Staying hydrated will also keep you in top physical condition.
Get Enough Sleep
You also need to ensure you’re resting enough. If your body doesn’t get enough sleep, you won’t have the energy to perform optimally during training, ultimately resulting in poor conditioning. So, try to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night, especially after a hard training session.
Focus on Form
When doing conditioning exercises, make sure you train with proper form. If you prepare with poor form, you leave yourself more open to injury, which will only adversely affect your physical condition. Drop the weight/number of reps until you can perform the entire movement with perfect form.
The Tie Break
So, there are four workout plans and conditioning tips to ensure that you are in top shape for your next tennis match.
Practicing these exercises will dramatically improve your game and allow you to push harder in every encounter.
Consult your coach or PT before implementing these exercises to avoid the risk of injury.