There are many components that contribute to an effective tennis-training programme but whilst most people will readily mention strength, endurance, flexibility, speed etc one of the most important yet understated components is variety.
Your body is fantastically adaptive in as much as if you repeat the same thing over and over you will adapt and it will become the norm (an important factor in learning), however if you perform the same workout routine (no matter how good it is) it will eventually prove counter productive as all initial gains you make plateau and there will be no overload and any gains will be reversed.
Think of it another way, if you play your favourite song over and over again for too long it will eventually lose its early appeal.
This is where using other sports and methods of training (or cross-training as it is known), is important.
For the pro players that I work with, participating in other sports keeps them physically and mentally fresh (they obviously play so much tennis) whilst still promoting a training stimulus.
For my junior players (minis included) as well as my recreational adults (some very serious and not too recreational by the way), it is a way of training many of the fitness components critical for tennis away from the tennis environment whilst still retaining a competitive games – based edge. This is especially true of the “mini” juniors for whom early “specialisation” in a single sport has been shown to be counterproductive.
Here are some ideas to either spice up or enhance a program you are currently doing, or to get you started on a new one.
1. Participate in sports such as basketball, soccer, baseball or volleyball.
All these sports have the stop-start repeated sprint tempo that tennis requires with soccer providing a multidirectional agility-training stimulus that is vital for effective court coverage. Although basketball and volleyball include many directional changes as well, they have a large leg power component to them through the repeated jumping that takes place.
Baseball has many useful tennis related aspects to it such as pitching and getting the ball from base to base (which are throwing actions like the tennis serve) and sliding to make base can be very useful when you come to play on clay where sliding is a vital component for success.
2. Use outdoor activities.
Cardio training can be achieved by running, hiking (also good for leg strength), skating (balance and agility), skipping (co-ordination), cycling and swimming, to mention just a few. If you are in a park you could use equipment such as benches, balance beams, monkey bars, rope climbs etc. to do body weight driven exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, balancing, step-ups, squat jumps, tricep dips, calf raises, etc.
As always start slowly and at your own pace and progress slowly increasing the length and/or intensity as you improve.
So, with a little thought and creativity you can combine all the fitness components necessary for improving tennis performance into workouts that take place away from your normal tennis environment, thereby allowing you to be physically and sometimes more importantly mentally fresh every time you step back on the court to play a match or have a lesson.
Who knows you may even find yourself having fun while getting fitter and improving your tennis!
Before starting any exercise program, always be sure to first consult your physician.
3. Get the right kind of foot wear.
For example, tennis shoes for clay court may be different than for a hard court, grass court, or carpet court. Using the wrong types of foot wear and be a safety risk, and keep you from performing your best. The things to look for are stability, comfort, and low weight.