Sport specific training - Tennis

A lot of the articles you will find on this site are predominantly about bodybuilding, powerlifting, weightlifting or just general gym training for health and fitness. I have realised that for the majority of sportsmen there is always going to be a sport specific goal to their training. Most sportsmen will use the gym for cardiovascular training, weight lifting or strength training but the goal is always to improve their level of playing in their own field of sport. Whether that be football, boxing, tennis or any other sport that requires certain physical attributes.


I have decided therefore to come up with some workouts to aid in different sports and to enhance key physical assets that will help in that sport.


The first sport I am going to look at is tennis.


The different aspects of the training I will look at are cardiovascular improvements, weight training and strength progressions and sport specific training drills. I will look at the specific movement patterns used in tennis and train these to improve in strength and power.


First lets take a look at some tennis shots in action.


Cardio aspect –


The most important aspect of sport specific training is trying to match what you would do in a game to your training. So for cardiovascular training it is pointless doing 10km slow jogs if you are a 100m sprinter. You will be working the wrong energy systems and muscle fibres.


With tennis it is very much a game of intervals. Within each point you will serve, play a few shots, run around the court very quickly and then stop, walk back to the service line, take a few breaths and play the next point. This is therefore interval training. It is not a constant steady speed but very much all out explosive sprints with rest periods in between. Therefore the cardio must be on a similar level. I personally recommend interval training of 30 seconds all out sprint followed by 30 seconds rest. As you progress you can increase the length of the sprints and reduce the rest time. I personally feel for tennis the best way to do this is on a treadmill. Set the machine to the correct speed and stand on the sides of the treadmill. On the 30 second mark jump on the treadmill and sprint.


Weight training:


In tennis there are a few movement patterns that we can train to help develop power on the shots. Most of these movement patterns will be around the shoulder as the tennis swing is very much a shoulder orientated movement.


At the shoulder we will have to train horizontal flexion, horizontal extension, abduction, adduction, extension and flexion. We will also need to train the biceps, triceps and some compound power movements.


The exercises we will do will all be relatively light weight, fairly high repetitions and all done at a fast explosive speed. There is no point doing the repetitions slowly and controlled as that is not how you would perform a shot in tennis. You also will not do 2-3 reps as you wouldn’t do just 2 shots in a tennis match. Also the racket weighs very little so using heavy reps is fairly pointless.


So a basic routine for weight training for tennis would look like this.


Hang cleans – 3 x 15 reps

Kettlebell swings – 3 x 15 reps

Clap press ups – 3 x 20 reps

Barbell row – 3 x 15 reps

Lateral raise – 3 x 20 reps

Straight arm cable pulldowns – 3 x 15 reps

Barbell curls – 3 x 15 reps

Single arm cable tricep pushdowns – 3 x 15 reps

Cable woodchoppers – 3 x 15 high to low, 3 x 15 low to high


Working the obliques is important as a lot of power on the shot comes from the obliques and the twisting of the torso.


The final training you will need to do is on court training. This will include agility drills, match play and general shot coaching.


You can find some cool agility drills here:


So if you are a tennis play or a racket sportsman I recommend trying a weight training routine like this one. Remember to think about your goals and your specific sport when you enter a gym and train intelligently to achieve your goals and improve.



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