We all know that tennis is a game of finesse, technique and skill. Hitting a ball with pinpoint accuracy while gracefully moving around the court requires athleticism, flexibility and coordination. There are however, other attributes of the modern game that players must develop if they want to reach the next level. And these are attributes that can be worked on in the weight room as well as on the court.
What are these attributes? Strength and Power
Strength is the foundation of all physical sports. Power is a product of strength.
Here are 4 exercises that will have you striking fear into whoever is across the net.
The deadlift is the ultimate test of strength. And it’s pretty simple. All you have to do is pick something heavy off the floor. The brilliant thing about deadlifts is that you can’t do a half-rep or cheat. You can either lift it or you can't. In terms of athletic application, the deadlift is a total body movement that strengthens the glutes, hamstrings quads and back muscles. The deadlift also develops motor control and core stability, making it an ideal exercise for all athletes.
This is how you do it:
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. The bar should be over the middle of your foot.
Hinge forward at the hips as far as you can, you should feel the tension in your hamstrings and glutes.
Squat down towards the bar, you should feel some tension in your quads now.
Grip the bar with your arms touching the outside of your quads and a double overhand grip.
At this point, your hips should be lower than your shoulders and your back should be flat. Your eyes should be facing down.
Take a breath into your stomach and squeeze your core.
Begin the pull by pressing your feet into the floor, imagine you are trying to push the floor away from you.
When the bar gets to your knees, think about driving your hips towards the wall in front of you.
Stand up straight and lock the rep out. Do not hyper extend or shrug the weight!
Return the weight to the floor in a controlled manner and repeat.
You might think that the bench press is all about the chest, but when it’s performed properly it can cover the upper body. Your lower body also plays a significant supporting role. The muscle groups that are hit the hardest are your chest, shoulders and triceps. But your lower body has to be set up in such a way that it provides you with a solid base to push off from.
Here’s how you do it:
Lie back on the bench and take a grip just wider than shoulder width apart.
Tuck your feet as close to you as possible and squeeze your glutes.
Arch your back so that only your upper back is in contact with the bench, your next point of contact should be your glutes. This position has to be maintained throughout the set.
Un-rack the bar and allow it to travel out until it's over the middle of your chest.
With the bar in your hands imagine you are trying to bend the bar in half, this should tuck your elbows in at an angle. You should also squeeze your upper back tightly.
Take a deep breath into your belly and lower the weight down to the bottom of your pecs, the bar should finish on your sternum and it must touch it! No half reps allowed!
When you begin to press, drive your feet into the ground and press the bar back up and towards your face so the bar moves in an arc.
Before you perform another rep quickly assess your arch and glute activation before going again.
Medicine Ball Throw
This exercise is simple but extremely effective. The key to the Medicine Ball Throw is ensuring your hip drop is short and explosive. Do not think about dropping your hips in the same way as you would when squatting.
Here’s how you do it:
Hold a medicine ball at chest height with your grip on the side of the ball so your elbows are pointing out to the side
Drop your hips slightly and then, in one explosive motion, snap your hips forward and throw the ball as far as you can. Fun!
Rotational power is a key part of athletic performance in tennis. Your ability to produce rotational force plays a key role in how much power you can generate in your shots. In order to generate rotational power, you must be able to keep your spine neutral whilst performing a movement. Woodchoppers are just the ticket when it comes to doing exactly that.
Here’s how they work:
Attach the rope handle to a cable or band and set it to lower chest height
Grab the handle with both hands, walk away from where it is attached until you feel tension in the cable/band and extend your arms out in front of you until your elbows are just shy of locking out
Ensure your body is facing forward before moving on to the next step
Create tension in your core, imagine someone is going to punch you in the stomach and rotate your torso away from the cable/band attachment
As you rotate your arms should naturally follow and should always be in line with your lower chest