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Tennis fitness advice

There's no doubt that tennis is a physically challenging sport. It requires stamina, to last through multiple set matches, speed, to chase down the ball, strength and muscular control to play shots, and agility.

That means that for a tennis player to perform at their best, they need a mix of:

  • Aerobic and anaerobic endurance
  • Explosive strength and power
  • Speed off the mark
  • Agility
A tennis training program thus needs to reflect the demands of the game. Whereas a sport like soccer (football) mixes short sprints with sustained slower paced running for 90 minutes, tennis is very different.

A typical match will be characterized by repeated bouts of short, high-intensity activity - a rally usually only lasts about 6 - 10 seconds, and is then followed by around 30 seconds rest.

Training should therefore develop both prolonged moderate-intensity aerobic capacity (to last three or more sets) and short, sharp anaerobic capacity (sprinting).

However, simply developing sprinting speed is not enough - up to 50% of a player's movements will be sideways, so speed work needs to include specific agility drills to prepare for this.

Finally, you need to include an element of strength training - core muscles are essential for transmitting maximum power through to the racquet head, but consideration should also be given to strengthening vulnerable areas such as the wrist extensors (to prevent tennis elbow) and the rotator cuff, to protect the shoulders.

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