Many of us have been inspired by Andy Murray’s return to tennis after a major hip operation. This combined with Wimbledon starting again and with the sun finally out, we’re rushing to get out on the tennis court!
As a highly specialized sports physiotherapist with over 30 years of experience in treating tennis-related injuries, I’m here to provide you with expert tips and techniques to help you stay fit, prevent injuries, and enhance your performance on the court. In this blog post, you’ll discover how to optimise your fitness for tennis, prevent common injuries, and learn exercises that will take your game to the next level. Let’s dive in!
Most Common Injuries From Tennis?
Over the years I have treated people playing tennis from all walks of life, with all manner of injuries. However, there are a handful of injuries that I see over and over.
The most common injuries I see from people playing tennis are in the calf, back and shoulder. Most of these would be preventable with the right training and strategies. My first recommendation would be to play tennis all year round! Rather than the boom of bust of playing when the weather gets better in the Summer. If you play more consistently throughout the year, you maintain better conditioning to play tennis without injury problems.
However, if this is not possible, then here are a few simple to implement quick tips:
- Always warm up.
- Run around the court slowly and stretch your legs.
- Slowly start hitting with short tennis and then add in some full ground strokes, volleys and serves.
- Stretch afterward.
Tailoring Your Fitness Routine for Tennis
If you really want to avoid injury in tennis, then as well as the above, you should get yourself stronger. To perform at your best on the tennis court, it’s crucial to customise your fitness routine to meet the specific demands of the sport. Here are some key considerations:
- Understand the Demands: Tennis requires a combination of strength, endurance, agility, and flexibility. Tailor your workouts to incorporate exercises that target these areas, such as plyometrics, strengthening exercises, and agility drills.
- Cardiovascular Conditioning: Tennis is a high-intensity sport that requires a good cardiovascular endurance. Incorporate activities like running, cycling, or swimming to improve your stamina and endurance on the court.
- Balance and Coordination: Tennis involves quick changes in direction and explosive movements. Enhance your balance and coordination through exercises like single-leg squats, lateral lunges, and balance board exercises.
Example of a Training 1 week Strength, Agility and Power Programme
Day 1 & 4:
Cardio and Agility:
Combine your usual cardio workout with some agility drills. Aim for 30 minutes of cardio with the following drills either added at the start, end or partway through the middle.
- Agility Ladder Drills:
- Set up an agility ladder on the ground and perform various footwork patterns, such as lateral hops, high knees, and side shuffles. Perform each drill for 30 seconds and repeat for 3 sets. Rest for 30 seconds between sets.
- Cone Drills:
- Set up cones in a square pattern (see diagram below) and practice rapid changes in direction, starting in the centre, move around the cones from 1-8 as quickly as possible, returning to the centre each time. Perform 3 sets of 10 reps. Rest for 30 seconds between sets.
- Speed Ladder Drills:
- Use a speed ladder to perform ladder drills, such as the “in-out” drill or the “scissors” drill, to improve footwork and coordination. Perform each drill for 30 seconds and repeat for 3 sets. Rest for 30 seconds between sets.
Day 2 & 5: Strengthening & Plyometric Exercises
Pair your strengthening exercises with some plyometric exercises to optimise your sessions for strength and power.
- Squats: With feet at shoulder width and toes turned out (1 and 11 on the clock), keep your weight on your heels and sit back as if you are going to sit on a stool in between your ankles. Return to a standing position – keeping your chest up through the whole movement. Perform 12 sets of 3 reps. Rest for 1 minute between sets.
- Box Jumps: Perform 3 sets of 10 reps. Start with a low box height and gradually increase as you progress. Rest for 60 seconds between sets.
- Lunges or Split Squats: With feet at hip width, take a large step out with one foot. Raise up onto your toe on the back foot and then keeping your balance, drop the back knee down to almost touch the floor. Then straighten back up to stand again. Perform 10 reps on either leg – no rest in between. Rest for 1 minute in between sets.
- Lateral Bounds: Perform 3 sets of 12 reps (6 reps per side). Jump laterally from side to side, focusing on explosive power. Rest for 60 seconds between sets.
- Planks: Hold a plank position for 30 seconds to 1 minute, and repeat for 3 sets. Rest for 30 seconds between sets. Focus on maintaining a straight line from head to heels and engage your core muscles.
- Russian Twists: Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet off the ground. Rotate your torso from side to side, touching the floor with your hands. Perform 3 sets of 20 reps (10 reps per side). Rest for 30 seconds between sets.
- Press Ups: A great exercise for shoulder/rotator cuff stability and strengthening. Aim to do 12 reps repeat for 3 sets. Rest for 1 minute between sets.
- Rotator Cuff Stability Exercises: Lying on your side, with arm resting on top of your body, holding a dumbbell lift the dumbbell towards the ceiling keeping your elbow tucked in by your side. Aim for 12 repetitions on each side with 3 sets. You don’t need to rest between sets for this exercise as one arm rests as you train the other.
- Medicine Ball Slams: Perform 3 sets of 15 reps. Hold a medicine ball above your head and slam it down forcefully while engaging your core and using your whole body. Rest for 60 seconds between sets.
Day 3 & 6:
Maximise Your Training
By following these simple tips, you can optimise your fitness for tennis, prevent injuries, and enhance your performance on the court. Tailor your fitness routine to meet the specific demands of tennis, incorporate injury prevention strategies, and integrate exercises that improve your strength, agility, and endurance. Take action now to stay fit, prevent injuries, and excel in your tennis game this summer. Remember, a consultation with one of our specialised sports physiotherapist can provide personalised advice to further enhance your tennis fitness. Let’s make this summer your best tennis season yet!
Keep yourself just that little bit stronger, and you will help to prevent injury and also perhaps improve your game. How manypress-upss do you think Serena Williams or Andy Murray can do? Your shoulder especially needs to be strong so if you do nothing else then do the press-ups and the rotator cuff work and watch your serve get faster and more accurate!
See an Expert About Your Shoulder Pain
If you are injured then seek good advice from the Central Health Physiotherapy team, and we can get you back on the road to victory. However, if you read and take advice from our blogs, that may never happen! Good luck.