Tennis-specific fitness is more and more important as the athletes are becoming fitter and stronger. The recreational and club level players may never achieve that kind of speed and strength, but improving tennis specific fitness will help anyone at any level of tennis skills.
Improving tennis fitness means getting stronger, more powerful, faster, more flexible, greater endurance, balance and coordination. All this in addition to practicing technique, strategy and mental toughness.
The fitness training of the pros are often kept secret, but occasionally a friend, team member or player himself reveals small pieces of their fitness secrets. In 2009, Novak Djokovic hired his new fitness trainer, Gebhard Phil-Gritsch, former trainer of Thomas Muster, who is known as one of the fittest players in the tennis history. Novak needed to do something different, because he lacked endurance in Grand Slam matches and often had to retire because of physical conditioning.
“The better you get, the more you have to go into details, into small things, to optimize every little angle of the game,” Djokovic’s trainer, Gebhard Phil-Gritsch, said Monday. “In this stage, if we can get 1 percent better, he might make a big jump. These guys are so good. We are already talking about the optimum. It’s just a little bit here and a little bit there.”
They have been working on Novak's leg strength and power, quickness in the court movement, balance and flexibility. Novak is know as one of the most flexible guys on the tour. In addition to stretching and assisted stretching, he started to do yoga, which has helped his flexibility and mental toughness tremendously.
What can a recreational or club player learn from Novak? It's never too late to improve your tennis game by improving your tennis-specific fitness. The recreational players have more room for improvement, so the results can be drastic. Some players improve 0.5 to 1 point in the NTRP rating system within a relatively short period of time. Increase your overall strength with this Strong Core and Lower Body tip.
If you are able to start doing yoga, even just occasionally, include it to your training schedule. Perform static stretching routine after each athletic activity. Work on your core and leg strength, explosiveness and balance. Even 20-30 minutes of training a few times per week after your tennis practice will bring huge results and you will be surprised how fast the benefits will show.
For your inspiration and motivation, see the fitness manual "Tennis Fitness for the Love of it: A Mindful Approach to Fitness for Injury-Free Tennis." Carry it in your tennis bag, and do the outlined routines any time you have extra 20 minutes. Let us know in the comment section below, how your tennis game has improved when improving your tennis fitness.