Tennis players, from amateur to professional and everything in-between, don’t spend all of their time on the court. For tennis players that want to improve their game, strengthening and training the body on and off the court is critical. Off court strengthening and conditioning doesn’t just improve your tennis game, it helps prevent those pesky injuries. Performance increase and injury prevention is a win-win! Here are eight exercises that can easily be incorporated into any tennis player’s regular workout routine.
Core muscles are important in tennis, as core engagement is essential in every shot. The core is really the “core” of your body. Tennis players can strengthen their core muscles by doing plank exercises in a variety of ways. Planks help strengthen the core, strengthen the back and help prevent lower back pain, strengthen the shoulders, and can be done in any room, at any time. If you have sensitive wrists, you can plank on your forearms with palms flat or together. Add some intensity by alternating the forearm and extended arm plank by doing “up and downs.”
With tennis having a wide base in the legs can help improve those groundstrokes. Performing lunges off the court helps players with agility and when they need to set their feet and lunge for the ball. Weighted lunges offer a challenge, and players should practice hitting every angle that would be done on the court, such as side, front, diagonal and back lunges. Strengthening leg muscles also helps support the knees which lightens the load on your joints.
Strong glutes can help get a player through a long game or extended practice. To build endurance and strengthen the glutes and quadriceps muscles, banded and weighted squats are recommended. In addition to building leg muscles, these exercises can also help in the rotation of strokes.
- Banded Lateral Steps
Banded lateral steps (side steps with a resistance band) build strength in the hip abductors, which aid in hip and knee-joint stability. Tennis players do a lot of hip and core rotation when swinging into a shot so these moves can be extremely beneficial. Banded lateral steps also build leg and glute muscles.
- Ladderwork and Footwork
Footwork is extremely important in tennis, and proper training helps keep tennis players light on their feet during the game. Ladder drills are a great way to fine-tune footwork, increase speed and agility and help players stay coordinated while running around the court and setting their feet for each shot.
- Rotational Medicine Ball Throws
Once again, core rotational strength is crucial in a tennis player’s performance since it is needed for most strokes. Utilizing a medicine ball (heavy weighted ball) can help build strength and work major parts of the body. Throwing it against a wall with extended arms can help replicate the swing of a racket and this works almost every muscle needed in tennis.
- Weighted Shoulder Exercises
The deltoids are important for a proper serve, so having strong shoulders can help prevent injuries from swings. Front raises and side raises are great moves to help strengthen the deltoids.When doing these moves, take care not to swing the upper body; engage the core, stand tall and strong, and then slowly raise and lower the weight.
- Banded Shoulder Exercises
Banded shoulder exercises are an ideal warm up and injury prevention move for tennis players to add to their regular workout routine. Since tennis players use internal and external shoulder rotation in shots, these muscles should be stretched and strengthened before practice or a game. For a good exercise, the band can be tied to a wall, then with the elbow tucked, the player can move the shoulder internally. During this move the elbow should be kept at 90 degrees and up, and then players can also work on the external shoulder rotation.
By adding these moves into a regular workout routine, tennis players should be able to not only improve their game, but also keep their body in shape to prevent injury on(and off)the court.If you’re interested in any of our tennis leagues or clinics, contact our tennis pros today!