This week we will bring you a series of posts that aim to give tips to improve your game. The posts will be divided into four aspects of tennis: physical, strategic, tactical and mental.
Today’s post will start the series talking about the physical aspect. Practitioners of sports in general practice because they like it, or because they want to stay active, or because they want to improve their physique, or because they want it all at the same time.
In the case of tennis, tennis players know that playing tennis helps to maintain the physical, but they also know that maintaining the physical helps to play tennis. Regardless of the pretensions of each player, one truth is certain: the higher the level you want to play, the more physically demanding you are.
This post will give you some interesting tips on what physical aspects of your game you can improve.
Nobody likes to play against players who run a lot, because they “give everything back”, which can frustrate many players.
No wonder speed is important for a tennis player. Being fast allows the tennis player to get to the balls in advance, which gives him an advantage in rallies, intercepting the ball always in front of the body. In addition, being quick allows the tennis player to defend himself more easily – arriving more often in balls, theoretically indefensible.
A good example is Andy Murray, Scotland’s current number 1 in the world, who uses his speed to return all the balls and thus force many mistakes of his opponents (who aim the line to make a winner on him).
Explosion exercises help the tennis player to develop his speed on the court.
When talking about strength in tennis, it is common to imagine the Argentine Juan Martín Del Potro hitting his forehands, or the American John Isner getting aces and more aces at over 200 km/h, or the young tennis players like the Austrian Dominic Thiem giving backhand winners at over 150 km/h.
However, strength in tennis is not synonymous with how hard you hit the ball or how much muscle an athlete has. Beginner tennis players think a strong arm will make them hit the ball harder. But that’s not so.
Tennis strength comes mainly from the legs and trunk. Strong legs are the source of power in the tennis players’ blows. The transfer of power starts from the ground, at the tennis player’s feet, passes through the legs, arrives at the trunk and, finally, arrives at the arm that transfers the movement to the racket.
A strong trunk is necessary, because the rotation movement of the trunk is fundamental in the generation of power of the basic blows of the tennis player (and also in the booty).
Exercises focused on the calf and thighs (quadriceps), as well as exercises for the core (trunk and lumbar) will help, indirectly, to add more strength to your blows through greater stability and balance, besides improving posture and preventing injuries.
What’s the point of a tennis player being fast, strong, but not being able to play an entire set? Or play just one set well and lose your breath for the rest of the game?
Resistance is essential for any tennis player. Depending on your style of play, you may need more or less stamina.
A more aggressive tennis player, who goes up and shortens the points, needs to be less physically resistant than a tennis player who likes to play behind the baseline looking for all the balls and betting on the opponent’s mistake.
To increase your stamina it is important to do races (on “knee-friendly” surfaces, such as trails or rubber racing tracks), bike (remember your knees) and jump rope (doing some series of two to three minutes is more demanding than it seems).
There’s no better example of a sturdy professional on the court than the King of Gravel, Rafael Nadal. Endurance is one of the bases of his game to become so dominant on the surface of the beaten earth.
Probably the most neglected point by the amateur tennis player. Sometimes confused with speed.
Agility is, perhaps, the most important of the tips discussed in this post. An agile tennis player has agile legs and agile hands. Agile hands, like those of Alexandr Dolgopolov or Key Nishikori, move the racket so fast that they produce a large amount of spin on the ball – helping their blows be less erratic and heavier.
Having agile legs, on the other hand, seems to be the secret of tennis. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are great examples of what agile legs can do on the court.
A tennis player’s agility allows him to get balanced on the most difficult balls (like Djokovic, when he counteracts with his legs wide open and yet he is well balanced) and allows him to use his best shot to work on the point (see Federer and Nadal who prefer to use their forehands to control and finish the point).
There are footwork exercises specific to tennis, which can easily be found on the internet. Agility ladder training is the most common.
Remember, the tips given on the exercises in this post are ideas you can add to your game. Please ask an expert to help you do specific exercises for each area covered here. In addition to having more experience and more options, the expert will help you avoid injury in performing these exercises.