Tennis may have a reputation as a somewhat genteel sport, but for those who play it professionally, it is a physically demanding occupation that can push a player to the limit.
But looking at how the professionals prepare can give you insights into how you improve your own game. Taking advice from top coaches can help when it comes to finding the best tennis equipment online, whether you are looking for the perfect racket or the most supportive compression clothing, and the same applies to fitness regimes.
The rigorous training that professional tennis players undertake is understandable. There is no defined time limit to a tennis match, and four or five-hour matches are not that unusual at the top level. Additionally, tennis doesn’t have an off-season to speak of, so players have to maintain a high level of fitness for most of the year. There is also the question of strategy. To play tennis well at the top level, you have to excel at the strategic side of the game, and the only way to do that is to practice constantly.
Top players are on the court practicing for an average of around four hours per day, with extra conditioning or strength work to back that up, depending on their state of fitness. You may not be able to devote that much of your time to training, but there are some ideas you can implement from the professionals that can help you improve.
The first is to try to structure your sessions to match the experience of playing in a game. During a match there is a gap between points of around 20 seconds and a 90 second gap between games. By structuring your training into short, sharp bursts with these intervals to break up the drills, your sessions will mirror more closely the real match experience.
While it may seem like a good idea to focus on stamina, amateur tennis players are better advised to work on developing their agility and their capacity for short bursts of intense activity. Practicing on building up your agility, footwork and short-distance court speed will be much more productive than longer more stamina-sapping exercises.
One thing that amateur tennis players sometimes neglect is gym work. Tennis professionals don’t go in for muscle-building rugby-style routines but incorporating an element of lifting weights into your training routines is a good idea. By focusing on key parts of the body – namely hamstrings, wrists and shoulders – you can help to build strength that will protect you from picking up injuries when you put these areas under strain during a match.
Finally, it is important to remember to do a lot of whole body strengthening and flexibility routines. This will ensure that you don’t exacerbate any weaknesses on your forehand or backhand side by working predominantly on your favorite side.
Amateur athletes may not have access to the resources or the time to copy professional training routines precisely, but by following some of these tips, you can help improve your flexibility, stamina and intensity on the court and take your game to the next level.