Similar to every other endeavour in life, it begins with a solid plan and roadmap to reach the final destination. In today’s game of tennis, if player want to improve in tennis, they will need to do more than just practice or play tennis several times a week. The best players in the world, including professional and college tennis players always have a clear plan for their improvement in tennis.
How To Train For Tennis Like The Pros In order to be a really good tennis player, you don’t necessarily have to be a super athlete like Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps. If you have the talent and have learned the right skills, you can get away with a respectable tennis career without having to work too hard on your fitness.
Former pro Andre Agassi is widely considered one of the most talented ball-strikers of all time. In the middle of his career, he seemed to be more concerned about being a celebrity than being a tennis player and he fell from being number one in the world to below 100. He was out of shape - flabby and overweight. Yet he was still in the top 150 – meaning none of us regular hackers would stand a chance against him even when at our maximum potential and him at his worst level. But he knew deep inside that he belonged at the top of the tennis world.
So he rededicated himself. He learned again how to train for tennis – and won the French Open, completing a career grand slam. Then he won another grand slam title, and another, and another, until he retired with his place secure among the game’s all-time greats.
How To Train For Tennis For a Club PlayerFor regular players like us, our objectives in the game of tennis are not as lofty as Agassi’s were. We’re not aiming to win grand slam titles after all. But at the same time, we all wish we could be better one way or another. Techniques, strategies and even our equipment get assessed and changed frequently, hoping that we’ll find the right combination of these things to help us play at our best. Few people really put much thought to the right way of how to train for tennis. It just sounds like too much work.
How To Train For Tennis: Improving Tennis Strokes Practicing our strokes is also a lot of work, but since it still involves hitting a tennis ball, many players see it as being a fun kind of work, especially when compared to working out in the gym. Besides, they think that playing tennis IS their exercise; they just don’t have the willingness to exercise further for something that they already consider as their main way of exercising. Irrespective of this view, these players need to realize that regardless of skill level, improvements in physical fitness will always be beneficial for their games.
There are several components of a physical fitness program if you want to know how to train for tennis properly: (1) strength, (2) flexibility, (3) stamina, (4) speed, (5) agility and (6) diet.
How To Train For Tennis: Strength TrainingStrength training is usually equated with pumping iron at the gym, and to an extent, it’s true. But the goal is not to develop big muscles. Of course, there are some players who are naturally more muscular than others – Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams come immediately to mind. But if you ask them how to train for tennis, they’ll say that they don’t really do anything that different than some of their leaner-built counterparts like Novak Djokovic or Serena’s sister Venus. Strength training should aim to improve core strength as well as strengthen and stabilize key joints and body parts that are more stressed by playing and may be more prone to injury.
The core involves the abdominals, obliques, back and hips. The key joints would be the shoulders, elbows and wrists. But the lower body should not be considered as a lesser priority. In fact, in the modern game, more players get injured in the lower extremities because the game has become so much predicated on movement and agility. Power also comes from proper weight transfer which obviously involves the legs. Strong legs can literally carry a player to victory on a tennis court.
When learning how to train for tennis, it should be noted that flexibility is just as important as strength. The same key parts that need strengthening should also be stretched and kept lose. Tightness in these areas also causes injury, even if the muscles around are strong.
If strength is equated to gym workouts, then stamina is usually thought of as aerobic exercise like long distance running, swimming, cycling and cross-country skiing. While these exercises are also beneficial, a more useful program would include something that can make a player cope with the unique kind of physical exertion done when playing tennis. Tennis is a game of stops and starts.
How To Train For Tennis: Footwork Drills There are short bursts of activity followed by some rest periods. Furthermore, these bursts of activity do not have fixed durations. You can be involved in a short, intense rally, as when playing doubles; or you can be playing long baseline rallies, especially when playing singles on a slow court. Therefore, the correct way of how to train for tennis emphasizes anaerobic stamina, as opposed to purely aerobic endurance. An example of a workout that develops anaerobic endurance is described:
Sprint 50 or 100 meters, then stop, then sprint again. After about 3 or 4 sprints (depending on your stamina), take a one or two minute rest. Then do another set. As your endurance improves, add more repetitions and more sets.
Footwork drills can be incorporated in this aspect of training. In particular, lateral and backward movement drills can be designed similarly as the workout mentioned above. For instance: a player starts at the centre of the service line and side skips or uses crossover steps to touch the right sideline, then goes in the other direction to the left sideline. Back and forth he goes for 10-20 times, then rests for a minute. Then he does another set. He can do 3-5 sets.
Alternatively, to improve forward and backward movement, a player can sprint from baseline to the net then shuffle backwards toward the baseline. After 10-20 reps, he rests for a minute, and then does another set for a total of 3-5 sets. Another drill combines these two drills. A player moves sideline to sideline, then up to the net and shuffles backward to the baseline. Then he moves laterally to the other sideline where he again runs up to the net and back again to the baseline.
You may or may not have noticed that sprints and footwork drills also improve speed and agility. Most people think these two terms mean the same thing but actually, speed refers to how fast a player can move along a straight line while agility is how quick a player can shift from one direction to another. Agility has more to do with acceleration than speed. In designing a tennis workout, incorporating drills that target more than one aspect of physical fitness training is always advisable if only for the reason that it saves time.
How To Train For Tennis: Proper Diet and NutritionThe last aspect of training for tennis involves proper diet and nutrition. Because tennis is both an aerobic and anaerobic activity, what you eat should be the right "fuel" for both activities. If complex carbohydrates are what you need for aerobic exercise and high quality protein is needed for anaerobic exercise, then it stands to reason that a combination of these two should be taken for tennis. However, there is not one specific tennis diet. Evidently, each person is different and the diet needs to be tailored to each one’s unique physiologic characteristics.
How To Train For Tennis: A JourneyLikewise, an exercise program should also be individualized and be flexible enough to adapt to a person’s needs and condition as his body changes over time. Naturally, a child will have a different fitness program than a teenager or adult, and an older or middle aged adult should have a program that is more suitable for his condition than a younger adult.
Moreover, one must never embark upon a physical fitness program without first consulting a physician or a certified trainer. In summary, when talking about how to train for tennis, there are many variations, but when talking about why we train for tennis, the answer is the same – we may not be aiming exactly to be like Andre Agassi, but just like his example, proper training will help us to be the best player we can possibly be.
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