The majority of running in tennis is comprised of brief sprints, and the player must be able to make slight adjustments at a moment’s notice.
While a tennis court is only 27 feet wide (unless you’re playing doubles), the fact remains that the average tennis player does a great deal of running. So in a nutshell, the average bout of tennis can prove to be a stamina nightmare. That is, unless you are adequately prepared.
Going the Distance to Improve Your Tennis Game
While you might not compare tennis to cross-country running, a lot of exceptional tennis players practice distance running in order to prepare for the rigors of a tennis match.
For instance, you might not expect to see your tennis partner running a Chicago half marathon like the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon, but those long miles under your partner’s feet are working wonders for their cardiovascular system, improving overall endurance and stamina.
If you plan on adding long runs to your training, be sure to moderate your pace. You do not want to unleash your inner beast when running for long periods of time.
In other words, do not run at a high intensity. Instead, find a pace that you can maintain for 20 minutes or more. Doing so will greatly increase your overall endurance. This is why you find that a lot of tennis players are simultaneously training for a marathon too.
Get Specific on Your Tennis Running Goals
It’s no secret that distance running can greatly improve your overall endurance. However, if you don’t throw in any type of training specific solely to tennis, then you may be missing out on a valuable training tool. Remember, a tennis match is nothing like running a marathon; there are short, fast movements constantly taxing your fast-twitch muscle fibers.
This is where the high-intensity training comes into play. Distance running improves your endurance, but adding in high-intensity training specific to tennis will give you the fancy footwork every tennis player wants. Any type of training you do should essentially mimic the moves needed during a tennis match.
Suicide runs are a fantastic high-intensity workout, combining fast sprints with stopping short.
If you’re creating a custom workout plan, any moves that force you to change directions abruptly, sprint at a moment’s notice, move side-to-side or any combinations thereof, are great training tools to add to your routine.
So, to answer the overall question, yes, running-specific training can vastly improve your game as a tennis player. The combination of distance running and tennis-specific training routines can not only improve cardiovascular endurance, but also improve footwork-both of which are vital if you want to be a successful tennis player. As with any training, allow yourself ample time to recover after any workout.