As a tennis athlete, you know that consistently performing on-court drills will improve your game. But do you also know how to train off the court? Too few tennis players understand the performance benefits of weight training.
I highly recommend seeking out a strength coach for an individualized training program. If that isn't feasible for you, try my workout below. I suggest three areas of the body to focus on for dramatic improvement in your game. Incorporate the following exercises into your tennis training program and you'll dominate your opponents on the court.
You probably know that hips are the powerhouse of the body. If not, please re-read that sentence—hips really are that important. They control two integral components of your game, speed and body torque, which influence your court movement and stroke efficiency. Having your hips function optimally improves your full mobility range, allowing you to efficiently move in and out of hitting positions. It also gives you proper rotation during forehand and backhand groundstrokes. The Swinging Hip Gate demonstrates this concept; it develops hip mobility and rotation, prepares the legs for interaction with the ground when decelerating and changing direction, and strengthens the legs.
Swinging Hip Gate
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hands at your sides. Keeping your back upright, push your hips back and lower into a Squat, making sure your toes point out. Gently press your hands on your inner thighs. Jump back to starting position. Find more tips in the video at the top.
All of the power you generate with your legs means nothing if you can't transfer it through a stable core. If your leg strength outpaces your core stability, your overall performance will suffer and your susceptibility to injury will go up. Maximize your performance potential and avoid injuries by building up your core with the Half-Kneeling Cable Rotation. This powerful exercise takes your legs out of the equation, since you have to maintain posture during the lift while focusing on your core.
Half-Kneeling Cable Rotation
This requires the use of a cable pull machine. Start in a half-kneeling position—outside knee down, inside foot on floor—with hips perpendicular to machine. Hold the rope handle with both hands from a low cable position. Turn your shoulders toward the machine, keeping your chest up and your abs tight. Pull the handles up toward your chest while turning your trunk away. Return to starting position and repeat, switching sides. Check out the video above.
Sets/Reps: 2-3x10-12 each side
Any tennis player can attest to the demands placed on his or her shoulders during a match. Every stroke involves the use of this joint. To make sure your shoulders can withstand the challenge requires mobility in the joint and its stabilizing structure, the shoulder blade. One exercise that covers all the bases is the Behind-the-Neck Pull-Apart. It can dramatically improve shoulder health, keeping you hitting winners time and again.
To correctly perform this exercise, you need a short resistance band. Standing with your arms stretched straight overhead, hold the band at shoulder-width with your palms facing forward. Position the band behind your neck by pulling your shoulder blades back and flexing your elbows. Keep your chin tucked in to your chest the entire time. Reset to original position.
If you are looking to maximize your performance, adding these three movements can provide a great starting point to take your game to the next level. As with any kind of training, put safety first by knowing how to properly perform the exercises and use a spotter. (Video Above)