I could really write this blog post about tennis players in general, but I’m going to make it specific to girls because girl’s tennis starts now in a lot of areas of the country.
The modern girl’s tennis player is absolutely no different than any other female athlete. Meaning, they are taking advantage of the latest trends and technologies to be the best athletes they can be.
Gone are the days of Chris Everett and they are replaced by Serena Williams. A physical specimen who has muscles, speed, strength, quickness, and agility. They are true athletes in every sense of the word.
Here is the problem that I have with tennis players, male or female: I never see them!
They don’t train with me and they don’t train anywhere else that I know except with their tennis coach. It is tennis all the time. The athlete playing tennis is hardly ever trained for her athleticism until she gets to college, if she even gets that far.
I met with a female tennis player last fall. A good athlete, but she wanted to take it to the next level. She wanted to improve her game because she made it to states, but got overpowered by the competition. If she could improve her strength, speed, and quickness, then that might be the advantage she needs over the competition.
Think about it. All things being equal what would separate you from your opponent?
If you can track down every tennis ball your opponent hits and getting there so quick that you are in perfect position to hit the ball mechanically sound. Your opponent gets frustrated because she can’t get anything by you.
Now she is slow to the ball. Now she is the one who is just stabbing at it hitting weak returns. Now she is getting tired and can’t hit with any power. Now YOU are the one winning in straight sets.
Unfortunately, that girl ended up not working with us. In order to make any type of strength and/or speed gains, you need to train at least twice a week to develop the nervous system and your muscles properly.
How can you fit that in when you are expected to do 3 semi-private lessons, 2 private lessons, a match, homework???
My suggestion is to back off some of the lessons or sacrifice some “Netflix” time and do some training. If you need to get quicker to the ball, but aren’t addressing the mechanical issues that are preventing you from getting quicker then you aren’t going to get quicker.
You better hope all those tennis lessons will get you to hit the ball perfectly each and every time because against a more athletic opponent with equal skill, you might be in trouble.
Here is your outline for a workout plan for your female tennis player:
- Nutrition – This is huge because you HAVE to eat. You don’t have to do the other items I will talk about. Since you have to eat, you might as well eat proper foods that will help you optimize your athletic abilities. Learning about good nutrition could help you win more matches than you realize.
- Strength Training – You need to strength train twice a week, three times if you are in the offseason and a higher level player. Strength in the legs are key as well as the core, especially in a rotational direction. Shoulder work is big plus forearm/wrist strength.
- Cardio – If it is the offseason, a nice base can be developed with some long distance cardio runs. As you get closer to the season, I would be doing more interval work. Stop/start conditioning with sprint work and active rest that would mimic the conditioning you would be doing in a 2 or 3 set match. Offseason I would do this 3 or 4 times a week, cutting back as you get into the season with more matches to be played.
- SAQ – If short on time, I would do some horizontal and lateral plyos to help with first step and lateral quickness. I would then apply it to some lateral drills and first step explosiveness drills. Reaction drills would also be aplenty.
Feel free and post something in the comments if you want a little more specifics to any one of these categories, but this would be the initial start for you. Female tennis players need to do these things BEFORE they hit college. You do this early on and I guarantee you will set yourself up for SUCCESS!
Photo courtesy of Daniel on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/57511216@N04/