Speed, agility and sheer strength are needed from a tennis player’s legs and you’ll need to work hard to get your conditioning up to snuff. One of the best ways to tone your legs is to skip. Rumours have it that Roger Federer kicks off his training sessions by skipping and so should you. Try to skip for one minute before resting. Repeat this between three and five times depending on your fitness levels. If you own a jump rope that’s also a great tool to up your fitness level.
Another great way to work your legs is to do some interval training. Serena Williams completes interval training as a part of her routine and if it works for her it will work for you. If you are running on a treadmill, begin by walking quickly for two minutes, then walk a little quicker on a steeper gradient for one minute before sprinting with no gradient for one minute. Repeat this process between three and five times. If you are working outside, use lampposts or a stopwatch to complete your session and time your intervals. Wind sprints are also a great cardio drill and it will remind you of gym class. You should also try to include some lunges with resistance and some lateral raises into your exercise routine to get legs like a Tennis player.
Diet and nutrition plays a key role in any pro-player’s performance. Although you might not have a dietician on hand or a personal chef, you can still eat like a Tennis player or try to!. One of the key food groups to focus on is carbs. During a match, a tennis player can lose typically between 500 to 1500 calories, so refuelling using carbohydrates is essential. Try eating whole wheat pasta, brown rice, or cereals post-match. Take a page out of Rafael Nadal’s book and eat some grilled fish, alongside a portion of pasta and fresh vegetables. On those days when you’re not playing a game, you could start your day with a smoothie. Venus Williams eats vegetable-based smoothies, using kale, carrots, cucumber and protein powder to create a nutritious morning meal. For lunch, Venus likes to eat big salads with plenty of raw veg, beans and lentils. If you continue to eat this mix of protein, fruit and veg, fibre and carbohydrates you should be able to get the body and the speed of a Tennis player in no time.
If you want to look and play like a pro-player you have to play tennis. Yet although the stars play daily for a couple of hours at a time, chances are you have other commitments, which means you can’t dedicate so much time to the court. And some of us play outdoors and that’s not always possible in places like the United Kingdom. However, just because you can’t dedicate as much time to tennis as the pros, doesn’t mean that when you train you should only play tennis. You still need to work out your body doing other forms of exercise. This is known as cross training. Cross-training is essential for any athlete, not only because it helps build and work other muscle groups (which in turn helps you to become a better tennis player), but it also helps to reduce the stress on the body and will reduce your risk of picking up a common tennis injury. Try to work some alternative training, such as cycling, crossfit, yoga or rock climbing. This will make you a better player and you’ll also have a flawless tennis body as a result.
If you want to have a serve clocking in the triple digits (the fastest ever serve on record is, according to the Guinness World Records, 163.7mph and was hit by Sam Groth in 2012) then you need to pay some serious attention to those Pythons! As well as playing tennis, you’ll need to do some decent strength training exercises too. Try to include a combination of exercises, such as straight-arm rowing, dips, chest presses, push-ups and medicine ball drills. These can be used as cardio warm-up before the match or on other days where you’re not playing tennis. In order to keep progressing and building muscle and tone in your arms you have to make sure you keep your training sessions varied. Look out for different cardio Tennis drills and games. Experiment with a range of different exercises and never fall into the trap of a training rut as your improvement will stagnate.
This is probably the hardest to explain and most important aspect of training. If you watch tennis players both off and on court they don’t slink about or slouch. They stand tall. They’re confident. Their shoulders are back, their hips are in line with their ears and boy don’t they look 10 times better for it. Remember that getting the body of a tennis player is not just about working out a lot and eating decent food, it’s also about your posture and your confidence too. To improve your posture, work your core by doing exercises like the plank. You can also strengthen your core by doing a Pilates class, just like John McEnroe, doing back extensions and performing exercises that work your obliques and your abdomen are well suited to this. This core work will also improve your balance and tone up your stomach, so there are lots of benefits to be gained by doing these exercises. Try to be conscious of your posture throughout the day and make sure you reposition your body and ensure your spine sits in an S shape when your posture begins to slip.
If you follow these tips and tricks you’ll be amazed at how much your game will improve. Happy training!