Tennis is a sport that needs physical fitness including very good flexibility, agility, coordination, endurance, strength and perfect mental conditioning. You need to develop all these aspects of your body to play the best tennis.
Physical Tennis Conditioning
Tennis Footwork – Ladder drills
Ladder exercises is one way to improve your tennis footwork. There are several ways to do this tennis conditioning drill and we are going to describe 3 of them in this article as described below.
To start with this tennis conditioning exercise, you have to assemble a rope ladder on the ground or you can simple draw a ladder on a hard court using any marking material like white chalk. Draw several rectangles with a dimension of 38 cm2 joining then together to create a ladder.
Single leg run – all you need to do here is run forward with your ball touching the ground instead of your whole foot. The left foot steps on the first step and the right foot step on the second step. In doing so, be sure not to catch any of you feet with the rope or with the chalk. Everybody is familiar with how to do execute this jumping rope exercise because it is a very old exercise. This exercise may be outdated, but it is a very good way to tone up all the muscles in your body and develop your footwork. If you have not done this exercise, it might be a bit difficult for you in the beginning but as you practice it every day it will just come naturally.
Double leg run – In this tennis footwork exercise, you have to step both your feet in all the steps with the left foot first followed by the right foot. You have to execute the exercise as if you are running, so do the steps as fast as you can.
Double side step – This footwork exercise can be done in the same manner as the single or double leg run, but instead of facing forward, you have to do it sideways.
Tennis conditioning serves multiple important roles in tennis. You should be fit to play tennis and not play tennis to get fit. In this way, you can minimize injuries. Tennis players need more than just power and strength, they also have to have the endurance to sustain long rallies and long matches. Thus they need to do tennis conditioning to help them develop their muscle endurance. To develop your endurance, ideally you should do a 30-minute cardiovascular activity three times a week. The level of the exercise depends on your level. Normally for beginners, the level should be lower. Be reminded though, that is it not advisable to do cardiovascular exercise before any match.
Tennis players need strength and power to hit explosive and powerful balls to outplay their opponents. This is where true tennis conditioning exercises come in. The more intense the tennis practices and matches are, the more likely that the players incurred injuries. Thus exercises that develop strength and improve power on the tennis strokes are necessary.
Examples of these tennis conditioning exercises are weight training workouts and explosive leg workouts. Specifically, you can do short sprints and plyometric exercises. You can do the exercises once a week and again the number of hours depends on your level.
Most of the sprints workouts can be done on court and below are some of the basic on court sprint exercises.
Shuttle sprints – do the shuttle sprints in shorter distance first (from the baseline to the service line) and as the exercise continues do the sprint at a longer distance (from the baseline to the net)
Ball retrieval – this tennis conditioning is done by having many balls near the net. You have to sprint towards the ball and pick one ball at a time and return put it on the baseline. You can do this sprint exercise as many as you can.
Ball Throwing –this exercise can be done with a partner wherein you stand on the baseline with your back on the back fence. Your partner stands near the net (opposite court). As the exercise starts, close your eyes and your partner must throw a ball towards you. Once the ball is ready to be hit, your partner shouts as a signal for you to hit the ball and you have to hit the ball as fast as you can. This will develop your strength and quickness as you depend solely on the signal from you partner.
Around the court sprint – All you need in this tennis conditioning is a proper pair of shoes. You don’t need a racket or tennis balls. Before you start the exercise, position yourself on the baseline, then sprint towards the net, upon arriving the service box, you execute side step to your right as far as the sideline, when you reach the sideline, continue sprinting towards the net. When you are already at the net (right side), run as quickly as you can towards the center of the net, then execute sidestep towards the other side of the court, and then run back towards the baseline along the sideline.
Strength and weight training is a big part of any tennis conditioning exercise regimen for tennis players of all skill levels. The level of exercise should be lower for young players than the mature players. A twelve years old kid who wants to be a competitive tennis player can already start this strength training for him to develop his strength even at a young age. This tennis conditioning includes exercises using body weights and stretchable bands. To be more effective, this conditioning should be done at least three times a week.
Stretching is normally done before any tennis conditioning exercise or workouts. In tennis sports, stretching is also done before any match. This tennis conditioning aspect is very important especially in playing tennis where a sudden explosion of power is needed. Thus to condition your muscle to this situation, stretching is needed. Stretching is not only needed before a tennis match, you also need to do the stretching exercises after the game.
Mental Tennis Conditioning
Tennis is a game of eyes and hand alertness and for perfect executions of you tennis strokes, both your eyes and hand must work hand in hand. The lists below are examples of tennis conditioning exercises to improve your hand-eye coordination skills and your speed.
Drop the ball – To perform this coordination exercise, you need a partner to work with you. Both of you stand in front with each other, the distance is just enough for you to hit the ball with your racket. Both you and your partner hold the ball in your hand. What you need is a racket while your partner just needs balls. Your hold the ball in front of him and drop it without any warning from him. What you need to do is hit the ball before it reaches the ground.
Keep the balloon on air – All you need in this tennis conditioning exercise is your racket and blown up balloons. Throw two balloons up in the air and aim not to land the balloons on the ground. Thus you have to hit each balloon alternately either with your racket or if needed you can kick them with your feet.
Quick hand exchange – In this exercise your need a racket and tennis balls and a solid wall. You have to hit the ball in the wall but instead of using only one hand, use your two hands alternately. As the exercise continues move forward to the wall to lessens the ball travel and test your eye-hand coordination.
Ball over shoulder – this tennis conditioning exercises can be done with a partner and all you need is your racket. To start this tennis fitness exercises, you stand in the service box facing the net. Your partner on one hand positions himself on the baseline. Without your knowledge, he will throw a ball through your shoulder and you need to hit the ball as quickly as you can and land the ball across the net.
Off balance recovery – To get the best out of this exercise, you should do it in an unstable surface like a trampoline. This is because the purpose of this exercise is for you to quickly change your position when you get off balance as a result of trying to hit a ball.