Get fit for tennis
Originally published on: 02/10/13 00:00
We asked Nicki Waterman, ASICS PRO Team Personal Trainer, how improving your overall fitness can make all the difference on court.
Professional tennis players have got much fitter over the years. How can increased fitness help your game?
To play tennis well, you need muscle strength and endurance: strong muscles means greater force, better balance and protected joints; muscular endurance means you can move faster, hit harder, think quicker and last longer.
All the top professionals now have a strength and conditioning coach on their team. If you had to put a figure on it, how much can working in this area improve your game?
It’s crucial. All the strength and conditioning training will prevent injuries and enhance performance in every single way.
Are there other sports that complement tennis? Can you recommend any particular sports that help improve tennis-related fitness and build the relevant muscle groups?
Running cross-country as well as sprint races is great in developing your stamina and speed. This should be a part of any player’s fitness training.
Tennis is an eye-foot sport. It requires being in the right place in order to hit the tennis ball. Quickness and agility are very important in tennis while an explosive first step helps you get into the right position. Football and basketball are both sports that will complement the development of a tennis player as both demand a lot of quickness and agility.
Martial arts and kickboxing will help develop flexibility, footwork and balance as well as developing hip flexors, which are very important to tennis players.
How important is having a strong core for tennis?
A strong core helps you generate more power on both your serve and on your groundstrokes. The "core" means everything in the centre of your body – such as the abdominals, obliques and the lower back. You can strengthen each muscle group separately, but ultimately, the best and most functional way to strengthen your core is to do exercises that work everything in unity.
One of the best exercises to strengthen your core is the plank. Here’s how:
1. Get down on the ground on your hands and feet. Align your shoulders over your hands and spread your fingers wide, pointing forward.
2. Keep your arms symmetrical and straight. Maintain your body straight like a plank, with the hips one inch above the line linking your feet and shoulders.
3. Engage your abdominals at all times and breathe deeply. Hold this position for one minute, and over time, increase the interval until you can do two minutes without rest. That is a sign of strong core!
If you have any questions for the ASICS experts, from technique to technology, email us at [email protected]. The best questions will be answered in the next issue of tennishead.