The appearance of lean abs is so appealing to the eye and we all want to have a nice lean midsection with defined abs. However, for a tennis player, the strength and functionality of the core is even more important.
A strong core will allow transferring the power from your legs and hips to your upper body and arms and you will be hitting your shots in better balance, resulting in more precision and power. A strong core allows all the major joints, such as hips, knees, and shoulders, to load and work in harmony, and as a result, you will become a more powerful tennis player.
Strengthening your core does not mean that you just train your abdominals to get them to look pretty. The “core” means everything in the center 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, because in tennis, all your body parts move at the same time. One of the best exercises to strengthen your core is the plank.
Get down on the ground on your hands and feet. Align your shoulders over the hands and spread your fingers wide, pointing forward. Keep your both arms symmetrical and straight. Tennis creates many imbalances in your body, and during your fitness training, always be aware of your posture so you will not add more imbalances. Maintain your body straight like a plank, with the hips one inch above the line linking your feet and shoulders. 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!
As you get tired, the hips want to sink lower and you have to stop them so you don’t put excessive pressure on your lower back. If your body starts shaking, continue breathing and try to relax. Relaxing while your muscles are under tension is a good practice for tennis! It is possible that you will feel gentle discomfort in one or both of your wrists, which shows developing imbalances or weakness. If the discomfort feels more as pain, you may perform the plank on your elbows instead.
Plank with Opposite Arm and Leg Lift
When the simple plank is not challenging anymore, you can add difficulty by simultaneously lifting one arm and the opposite leg off the ground. Get your balance first, breathe in, and lift your both limbs up, parallel with the ground. Keep them straight and try to elongate your body as much as possible. Hold the top position for two seconds. If you lose your balance temporarily, try to regain it before you switch sides in a controlled manner. Repeat slowly 20 times.
The plank with the leg and arm lifts is much harder than it looks. It is an excellent strengthener of your core, shoulders and hips. Additionally, it improves your balance, coordination, and patience, which are the other important elements for your tennis game.
Perform the best core exercise regularly and watch your tennis game improve as well. Another great overall conditioning and strengthening exercise is a burpee. And if you want to hit huge forehands like the pros, read how to do it through strengthening your lower body in addition to your core.