Coach Marcin Bieniek, founder of instructional Enjoy Tennis Blog, explains just how important it is to be fit if you want to excel in tennis and points out the exact areas of the game that poor physical preparation affects the most.
Tennis is a physical activity, so physical preparation can’t be omitted in the weekly schedule of serious tennis players. Not all players spend enough time in the gym and on the track, so this weakness leads to many limitations in tennis improvement and deteriorates possible results during competition.
Short bursts of energy during intensive points and matches going over three hours are factors that confirm that solid physical preparation is needed to play successfully. It doesn’t matter if the level is beginner or advanced, players who lift trophies are much better prepared physically than their opponents.
Many years ago players trained only on the court to prepare for matches. Now the face of tennis has completely changed. Complex approach to athletic development has to include all aspects responsible for better performance. Technique and tactics are areas that have to be trained every day, but without physical and mental improvements, as well as conscious approach to nutrition and recovery, it is impossible to compete at the highest level.
It is true that with age players have to spend more time in the gym to take care of their body. However, it doesn’t mean that at earlier stages players can neglect exercises that improve important areas like endurance, speed or strength. If you want to win more matches and stay away from injuries, consistent physical training sessions should be your priority.
Here are the rewards you will get when you improve your fitness:
Having time to prepare the shot
Modern tennis is faster than ever before. Players have to deal with balls that can fly over 200 km/h while responding to serve or over 100 km/h while the opponent is hitting offensive forehand, so without good reaction and speed players will have trouble preparing successful responses. It is important to understand that quick movement to the balls increases the time for preparation, so the quality of the shot will also improve.
Hitting with more power
A lot of players mistakenly think that power is generated through the tennis racquet. The truth is that to hit the ball more offensively players have to use their body more effectively. The stronger and more coordinated athletes are, the more power and control they will be able to generate through hitting the ball. That is why if you are looking to add some km/h to your strokes, you should start with some work off the court. Improving strength, coordination and balance should be your goals to reduce your opponent’s time for reaction while hitting the ball with more power.
All players dream about winning tournaments. That feeling of being the best is hard to explain in words. However, not so many players understand the demands of winning a tournament. To win a trophy many times players have to win five matches that can be accumulated in two or three days. It creates really difficult challenge for the body to perform well, recover quickly and be prepared for another battle against next opponent. Without good physical preparation player will be able to play one or two good matches, but after that there will be a significant drop in physical and mental performance.
Going to the doctor less often
The worst experience for any athlete is the time when injury happens — lack of possibility to improve, lack of possibility to compete, lack of possibility to achieve dreams. Most of the time injuries don’t happen because of bad luck, rather, they are the consequence of improper physical preparation. If you plan to spend more time on the court than in the doctor’s office, make sure you include physical training sessions into your weekly schedule.
Any physical activity needs proper body preparation. Tennis players can’t focus just on hitting the ball while forgetting that firstly they have to move from one spot to the other. Consistent fitness sessions will prevent possible injuries and will have positive impact both on player’s progress and results during tournaments. It is not about big muscles in tennis — it is about being able to face challenges that this sport creates, without feeling the pain.
Visit our Tennis Tips page for a lot more articles by tennis coaches. There you can learn how to improve specific shots and skills, handle pressure, control your emotions, adapt your game to all surfaces and weather conditions, choose the best tennis racquet, and much more.