Tennis Fitness

Even athletes with the most dominating serves will find their feet dragging, their legs burning, and their service power diminishing more and more as each point passes. And when a match is tight, some players will feel conserving energy for their opponent’s service return is almost a necessity.

With this, it becomes easy to drop the pace on serves allowing the player across the net to dictate your every move, and possibly derailing any chance of victory. That’s why leg strength is a crucial weapon in any tennis competitor’s game.

This is the first part of an ongoing series that will include exercise progressions that will not only increase your serving power, but it will increase your muscle endurance so that you’ll be serving just as hard in the last set as you did in the first. Plus, with the right swing technique, your overall power will increase in a few short weeks allowing you to crush a more aces and winning shots

Though technique is the #1 factor you should concern yourself with, once you’re sure that your mechanics are just right, increasing your strength, strength endurance, and explosion will add velocity to not only your serve, but to every shot.

So let’s get to it…

Power, in tennis, is first initiated by your feet driving into the ground. The harder you can drive your feet, the more force and power you can generate and *potentially* transfer to your racquet.

I say potentially, because if you can generate a lot of force but can’t smoothly transfer it from your legs to your racquet through your hips, core, shoulders, and arms, well, you’re just not gonna have very powerful shots, much less a powerful serve.

It’s that simple.

As you can see, you must be able to smoothly transfer the force generated by your legs to your racquet to increase the power of your serve. But first and foremost you have to be able to generate that force.

Today we’ll concentrate on exercises that increase the strength and power in your legs, so you’ll be able to generate the force needed to increase your power.

And in the following weeks, we’ll discuss how to strengthen each muscle up the kinetic chain, so that the increased force you’re now able to generate is properly and entirely transferred smoothly to increase your power.

Exercises to Increase the Strength and Power in Your Legs:

Progression #1) The Back Squat

How to do it:

Place a barbell behind your neck across the top of your shoulders. The bar should be resting entirely on your trap muscle. Be SURE that the bar is not sitting high on your neck and resting on a vertebrate. If you’re not sure and you feel pain from the bar, re-rack the weight and position the bar about an inch lower on your shoulders. If this is still uncomfortable, you can use a pad or wrap the bar with a towel to add cushion.

Now that you have the bar securely on your shoulders, position your feet approximately shoulder width apart.

Keeping your abs tight and your back straight, bend your knees and lower your body toward the ground until your thighs are approximately parallel to the ground. Return to the starting position.

If you’re a beginner, use a light weight that you can handle for 12-15 reps and perform 2-3 sets with 90 seconds between each set. It’s important to first develop proper form before increasing the weight.

The more advanced trainee should perform 2-3 sets of 6-8 reps with a bit heavier weight to stimulate the fast twitch muscle fibers that are used on the tennis court and to prepare your legs for progression #2

Stay tuned for Part II of the ongoing series, we’ll be discussing the implications of Progression #2: The Jump Squat, and how it transfers to the tennis court.

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