Playing tennis requires a good combination of aerobic and anaerobic conditioning. Tennis matches can be short point rallies that consist of no more than 3 shots to points that have 30 plus shots. Matches too, can span 60 minutes up to more than 4 hours of court play. Playing tennis also involves swinging a racquet during the entire time on court and racquets can range from 10-12oz in weight. This may not seem like much but over the course of a match it can seem to weigh a ton if the player is not properly conditioned.
There are several drills that can be done to help a tennis player improve their game. One such drill is an interval training drill that involves shadow play with the racquet. According to Phil Davies from Sport-fitness-advisor.com this drill is designed to improve cardiovascular endurance.
The drill goes like this:
Cross Court Drill
1. Holding a racket stand at one far corner of the court (where baseline and doubles sideline meet).
2. Side step along the baseline to the opposite far corner.
3. Run three quarter pace diagonally across the court to the corner of the net. Make an imaginary forehand shot with the racket.
4. Side step along the length if the net to the opposite corner.
5. Turn and run at three quarter pace diagonally across the court back to the start. Make an imaginary backhand shot.
6. Continue this sequence for 60 seconds then rest for 1-2 minutes. Perform a total of 5 runs to complete 1 set. Rest for 3 minutes and repeat for 2-3 sets
Because tennis involves playing the sport and consistently having to carry and swing a racquet it is important to include activities that mimic what happens on court. The above drill not only has the player running forward and backward it also has the player running side to side. This allows the player to work all sides of their leg muscles which are crucial for strong foot work and placement. Adding the swinging motion allows for the core to become activated and involved in the drill.
Strength plays a key role in winning a match and using resistance bands or cables can help increase core strength and stability. Using cables you can hold your arms out straight with your back to the cable machine. Have your legs spread shoulder width apart for this exercise. As you twist to the right your back leg should pivot following the direction of the movement. When you release to come back to center you want to hold and release slowly or like what I call a sprinkler movement. This challenges the core muscle to stabilize while in motion. You would then repeat this on the other side. When on the court the swing motion and core movement of your ground strokes is important for generating power and consistently being able to hit the racquets sweet spot. This exercise can help to improve the anaerobic portion of playing tennis.
The two exercises or drills listed above are just some of many that can be used to help a tennis player increase their aerobic and anaerobic endurance during a match. Tennis consists of repeating the same motions at a high intensity yet for small amounts of time. Tennis players move on average 3 meters per shot and around 8-12 meters per point with a lot of this movement being side to side. By making training fun and engaging will help the player put in the hours off the court to improve ranking and results on the court.