Tennis is a sport which when played at any level places massive demands on the body and in players of any level can expose them to overuse injuries and the creation of imbalances throughout the body over time. As with many other sports specific strength & conditioning training is usually the stuff of the elite but this doesn’t and shouldn’t be the case.
Having spoken to numerous Tennis Coaches there seems to be a distinct lack of understanding when it comes to applying structure to warm-ups and cool down periods for tennis coaching sessions, along with a lack of understanding with how to address aches and pains that are common from playing the sport.
My role as a Strength and Conditioning Coach brings me into contact with people who pursue many different sports with different physical demands. When I look at any new client I look at the function and needs of the sport that client pursues and what we can do to keep them in balance and functioning for as long as possible for their overall health.
Tennis in it’s nature will over time create imbalances (especially within the shoulder and core) as approximately 75%* of strikes of the ball come from the forehand. Every one of these strikes biases an internal rotation of the shoulder plus a particular rotation of the trunk. Over time these imbalances become more severe and either result in overuse injuries and compensatory movement due to a lack of balance within the body.
This is one aspect of the sport not even mentioning other injuries within the arm and lower body which are common and can be prevented with the implementation of a balanced strength and conditioning program.
What I am keen to do is introduce a system to everyone within the sport that ensures three things:
Address imbalances within the body created by the sport.
Ensure full range of motion within the body to ensure maximal force production and movement around the court.
Strengthen muscles commonly used within the sport along with sports specific drills to improve performance.
I am in the final stages of preparing a completely free e-book available to all that will have a structured warm-up and cool down which can be used by Tennis Coaches when coaching individuals or groups. It will consist of some very basic exercises that would take the client no more than 10 minutes in total to complete. The beauty of the program is that once shown the exercises the client can be left to complete theses exercises at the start and finish of the every session.
The program will consist of 8-9 exercises with some before a session and some after. The exercises before will be largely concerned with the activation and mobilisation of muscles left dormant in our day to day lives as we spend so much time sitting but which are so crucial to the sport: the scapular, glutes and proper hip function. The cool down exercises will focus on addressing imbalances created through the internal rotation of the shoulder and soft myofascial release techniques using a foam roller and lacrosse ball designed to address aches, pains and tight muscles. You will only need a few very cheap items of kit for the program which will be outlined within the book.
I do appreciate that as a Coach doing something with a client other than on court exercises may be a struggle too but what you are doing here is investing in their long term health and ability to play the sport so hopefully it will be an easy sell. And for those coaches who instruct people 8 hours a day following along with the client at the start and end of every session will help you over time as I know from speaking to many of you how beat up you feel after a long day. Your business relies upon you and your body functioning at it’s best too!
This e-book is the start of what we hope will be a program designed to fully address the strength and conditioning needs of tennis players across the world who play the sport at any level. With most of us having access to gym’s at work, home or part of our clubs it seems to make sense that there should be a program out there designed to help us play the sport we enjoy to the best of our ability for as long as we can!
If you would like a copy of the e-book click on the link below and we will send it out to you when completed (within the next 2-3 weeks):
If you also have any questions strength and conditioning related feel free to contact me below.
Co-Owner / Strength & Conditioning Coach - R1F
*Johnson CD, Mc Hugh MP. Performance Demands Of Modern Professional Male Tennis Players. Br J Sports Med 2006