We’re going to have to wait until 29 March to play tennis outdoors again, but at least that gives us some time to get fit – and make sure our bodies are ready to do what we ask of them without too much complaint.
I’m very grateful to Natalie Ackland for agreeing to contribute something here on the subject of tennis fitness. Natalie is one of the most experienced coaches at Taunton Tennis Centre, helping players of all kinds to get the most out of their game, including many young players who have gone on to play at a high level.
As well as coaching full time, she competes regularly both nationally and internationally and has represented Great Britain in the over-35s age category. So she’s obviously well worth listening to when she says something about fitness. Here she is:
I hope you're all managing to keep active in some form. Mike has asked me to give some insight into what I have been doing training wise. As most of you can imagine, I'm not very good at sitting around doing nothing.
I've set myself a few goals over lockdown.
Firstly, for myself, to get myself fitter so I'm less injury prone (strength, core and flexibility). Secondly to support my junior players (and parents) through lockdown with strength and conditioning programmes, racket challenges and quizzes.
So what do I do to get fit?
I generally do something every day. It always starts with a warm-up, jogging or cycling, followed by some dynamic stretches.
I then do some shoulder stability work with my band. For me this is crucial to stay fit for tennis. I'd recommend every tennis player to have a band. If you're interested here's Jamie Murray's band work out for ideas.
I then do some form of strength and conditioning. It may be a HIIT workout (high intensity interval training), or if my body isn't feeling it, a lower intensity workout. Joe Wicks is a very popular one to follow for HIIT workouts. Here's an example of one I use.
My favourite source of information is an Australian based fitness company which has trained many pro players over the years such as Leyton Hewitt and Martina Navratilova to name a few. They do a programme for the over 40s and you can get it for free on Facebook. It's more linked to injury prevention, and improving balance and core. This is a good example of a lower intensity workout, but just as good.
If you're not over 40, there are lots of good ideas to tennis specific training. I follow them on Facebook as there's lots of free videos to get new ideas.
I always finish with 10 minutes of core (abs, hips, glutes, shoulders). This is crucial for tennis players and again I recommend doing at least some core work. A strong core is key to reducing tennis injuries. Here’s a video I made of some of the exercises I do.
One thing I always do is listen to my body. If it's tired I rest (normally 1 in 7 days). If an exercise aggravates something, I do something else. But I also like to really push myself.
I've also set my challenge of doing a 5k in under 25 minutes. I'm not a natural runner at all, in fact I'd call myself a plodder!! But I like a challenge, and I'm about 3 minutes quicker already.
Good luck and I hope to see you all back on the court soon!
Tennis fitness and muscle-strengthening videos
We must have missed about six months of tennis since last March. Let’s not miss any more through not preparing ourselves physically for the restart and then getting injured.
With a bit of luck, we’ll be back on court in a few weeks. The last I heard, the government was hoping to get the schools back on 8 March, so if they manage that, my guess is they’ll be allowing things like outdoor tennis as well. Are you ready? I’m not sure I am.
What’s the last thing you want when you finally get back on court? That’s after you’ve torn about a bit, hit a few balls with joyful abandon, gradually found your range somewhere between the net and the back fence, and felt just how great it is to be there. For me, it’s… TWANG!!! Something like that anyway.
It’s often my calf or my hamstring. For you, it could be your elbow, your knee, your back, your shoulder… The possibilities are virtually endless. Or maybe we’ll just be struggling for breath through doing too little over the previous weeks.
Fortunately, there are plenty of people making videos to help us avoid all that and get us preparing in the right way. You’ll find a quick selection below. If you try any of them, I’d love to hear how you get on – either in the comments below or by email to email@example.com. Then perhaps we can share the information around.
I can’t claim to have done any of this myself yet. This is just some initial research. I hope it’s useful.
List of videos
I’ll start with the shorter ones and go from there on a sort of “no need to bite off more than you’re going to be able to chew” principle:
Top three tips for staying fit for tennis at home (LTA): https://www.lta.org.uk/about-us/tennis-news/news-and-opinion/general-news/2020/november/katie-boulter-and-dom-inglots-home-tennis-fitness-tips/
Nice and quick, nice and simple, from Katie Boulter and Dom Inglot.
1 minute each
Shoulder/trunk exercises for tennis (LTA): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGzs_e8i_KQ&feature=emb_logo&ab_channel=LTA
Seated, exercise band needed.
Shoulder exercises for tennis (LTA): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9C9MzGWBHYU&feature=emb_logo&ab_channel=LTA
Seated, exercise band needed.
Tom Avery: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnR2vm6F8P8&ab_channel=TomAveryTennis-CTWAcademy
Four exercises for strength that are also ideal for the supermarket car park apparently. This guy looks in incredibly good shape for a 70-year-old, so maybe these are worth it?
Essential Tennis, strength exercises: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_pMqxGwh8k&ab_channel=RipItTennis
Dr Mark Kovacs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgUYya7kFd8&ab_channel=TheTennisCongress
Golden rules for tennis-specific fitness, more of a presentation really, at least for the first couple of minutes (I didn’t go any further).
Top Tennis Training – Pro Tennis Lessons: 15-minute home workout: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QSS3RAlslM&ab_channel=TopTennisTraining-ProTennisLessons
Looks good to me: split stepping, forehands, backhands, volleys. Compact and easy to remember.
Essential Tennis - High-performance tennis training: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNochU1XpoA&ab_channel=EssentialTennis-LessonsandInstructionforPassionatePlayers
TENNIS FITNESS | James McGee's Pro Tennis Fitness Workout: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=quR-KBQPZ1o&ab_channel=TennisEvolution-OnlineTennisLessons
He says it’s a 21-minute workout, so there must be a follow-up video.
Tennis footwork workout at home: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_pMqxGwh8k&ab_channel=RipItTennis
Can be done in limited space.
1-hour tennis workout: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAzQwVeYYts&ab_channel=EvolveFunctionalFitnessWorkouts
Looks very like tennis-focused aerobics with music.
You’ll find plenty more videos on the LTA’s Tennis at Home Hub and on YouTube.
I hope you’re well and managing to keep motivated for your return to court (whenever that might be). Are you keeping in shape? If so, how? Why not share your tips with the rest of us by entering a comment below the blog post or replying to the email? (I'm putting this out as both.) If you reply by email, I’ll forward the tip (anonymously if you like) to everyone and put it on the club Facebook page. A few of us (me included) could probably use some help.
I was browsing around yesterday and happened across some useful stuff on the LTA website:
Keeping in shape for tennis
The LTA is doing its best to help us keep in shape at home. Some of the activities on its Tennis at Home Hub you can even do sitting in a chair. They're really worth a look. If we do tennis-specific exercises like the ones shown at the Tennis at Home Hub, we’ll be less likely to injure ourselves on our return to court (and we’ve waited so long!).
Tennis coaching in your living room
The LTA is also offering free coaching that you can follow at home. They say it’s for all standards of play. The first session is tomorrow (Saturday) at 10 am on the LTA’s Facebook page. Subsequent sessions will be on Facebook and TikTok. All details are on the free coaching link above. With a bit of luck they’ll publish the videos on YouTube subsequently, as well.
Let me know how you get on and if you have anything you can recommend.
Also, if I were to start communicating through the blog and to just email out a link to the blog, would that work for you? You should also be able to just subscribe to the blog on this page.
All the best,
Here's a quick update for you.
These appear to be in rude health at the moment. We had 13 people at Wednesday club night this week from 7 to 10 pm, there were 15 at the outdoor session on Tuesday evening, 20(!) at Saturday club afternoon, 4 despite the rain on Thursday evening last week and 11 last Tuesday evening.
The Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday sessions are combined sessions with Elms Tennis Club and seem to be going really well. With club sessions on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, there is no shortage of tennis on offer if you want it.
The weather has prevented the mixed team in Division 2 of the North Somerset League from playing a match so far (but fingers are firmly crossed for tomorrow evening at Blackbrook), while the vets team lost their first to Victoria away 9-2.
The new men's team in the Culm and Exe Valleys League lost their KO cup match to a strong Trull team 8-0 but beat Tiverton 6-3 in their first league match last Sunday.
Kerry representing GB
Kerry Quirk, the tennis centre manager, is in Miami with the Great Britain over 40s ladies' team for the World Team Championships. They won their group and are now playing off for the medal spots. There is a nice pic of the team on the Facebook page.
We need to revive the singles ladder, which petered out once the summer season got under way. I'll be setting that up again in the next week or so. I'd really like to see a thriving singles scene at the centre. Let me know if you'd like to play by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The season is two or three weeks old now, and we're struggling on despite injuries, players being otherwise indisposed and the other teams being rather good in a lot of cases.
It's just as well we're managing to blood a few new players. We had three players making their debut for the brand-new men's team in the West Somerset League on Thursday: Lloyd, Benji and Will Walsh. Glenn played too. It must be the youngest team we've fielded for quite some time. Age range: 17 to 29.
If you'd like to watch some tennis, we've got a few home matches coming up this week (with a bit of luck you should be able to get a cup of tea in the clubhouse if you do go):
Monday 20th: Men's A team vs Backwell A at home in Division 2 of the NSTL
Tuesday 21st: Ladies' A team vs Bridgwater B at home in Division 1 of the NSTL
Tuesday 21st: Mixed C team vs King's College Pupils at home in Division 5 of the WSTL
Thursday 23rd: Mixed B team vs Elms B at home in Division 2 of the WSTL
Friday 24th: Men's A team vs Sherborne A at home in Division 1 of the Y&D League
And if you fancy joining the travelling support, there is this one too:
Friday 24th: Mixed A team vs Trull A away in Division 1 of the WSTL
You'll find the results so far and the current league standings in the links and downloads on the right. I'll do my best to keep them updated every week.
We had 14 people at club night last Wednesday and 13 on Saturday afternoon, so a pretty good start to the year. Let's keep it up!
Shingo organised a fun handicap tournament on Saturday 5 January. 24 people of different playing standards who attend a variety of sessions at Blackbrook took part, and it was a big success. The scoring system seems to have worked a treat. Thanks again to Shingo for organising and Kerry for making the indoor courts available at no cost.
We'd like to organise more of these tournaments in an effort to bring together people from different sessions. There will be another one on Sunday 17 March, so please put that in your diary and look out for more information. I've added some of the people who played in the tournament to the club email list. The emails are designed to keep you updated on what's going on in the club and at Blackbrook as far as tennis is concerned. If you don't want to be on the list, please let me know and I'll take you off again.
We had a meeting on Saturday. Here are the main points:
We are building up some small funds from tournaments we organise and our other activities (competitive indoor doubles etc.) so that we can finance further activities. We now have our own domain name for the website (www.tauntontennisclub.co.uk) at a cost of £60 a year, for example. That's helped us to feature reliably in the first few Google hits. We'd like to reimburse people for having club tournament trophies engraved this year as well. If that's you, please get in touch.
Laurence agreed to become treasurer and join the committee, so we have a pretty good team in place now: David Walter (chairman), Mike Lynch (communications), Oli Knowles (men's captain), Hayley Collins (ladies' captain), Laurence Paul (treasurer), Shingo Yamada (new players) and Karin Sladden plus Kerry Quirk, the tennis centre manager. Nigel Hatfield has told us he will be coming off the committee but continuing to captain the men's team in the North Somerset League.
The team is playing in Division 1 of the North Somerset League, where the standard is very high. Laurence, Oli, Shingo, Hayley, Alice and Nicolette have played most of the matches. They've been competitive and had some good matches, but with four matches left they have their work cut out to stay in the division.
It looks like we will enter one more mixed team in the West Somerset League, which will start at the end of April or beginning of May. Bill Scott has expressed an interest in this team. We hope it will be made up of players from the Evergreen sessions and others who are unlikely to get many games in our other teams. We had a number of teams that were promoted last year, so things are likely to be tough! We'll have the following teams in local leagues:
We'll also have a men's team at the county level of what used to be the Aegon league (involving a handful of Sunday matches where you get to play singles as well as doubles) and two women's teams (one at the national level and one at the regional level).
Winter indoor doubles league
31 players from five different clubs have played in the Monday and Friday evening sessions in the bubble since September, playing a total of 254 sets in 76 different pairings and occupying two courts 75% to 80% of the time. The idea is to run competitive sessions, and we are keeping a table of results and standings for both the different pairings and individuals. Of those players who have played five or more sets, John Rens of Martock and Oli Knowles have been most successful up to now, winning 83.33% of their sets. John just has his nose in front in terms of percentage of games won. This will be running until April.
The Thursday lunchtime and Sunday evening sessions are also still going ahead, although a few players have been lost since the spring. They are generally filling one court per session.
Clubhouse, open day
The clubhouse has undergone a deep clean. We agreed to bring our own tea towels for matches and club sessions.
There will be an open day on the Great British Tennis Weekend on Saturday 20th July. There will be more on that nearer the time.
Have a good year's tennis!
Shingo is organising a handicap doubles tournament on Saturday 5 January in the main hall from midday to 3pm.
It should be a lot of fun and an opportunity for a get-together – a good way to start the year and get back into tennis, whether you haven’t played for a couple of weeks or a couple of years, and whether or not you are a member. We hope people who attend different sessions at Blackbrook will play.
There will be a £5 entry fee to cover the price of balls, tea, coffee, nibbles and perhaps some small prizes. You can enter as an individual, but if you’d like to enter as a pair, that should work as well.
The handicap scoring system is designed to even out differences in standard and produce close results. Are you paying attention? Here goes:
It’s likely we’ll use a hit-and-mix (American-style) format, but we’ll decide on that when we have all the entries in. In this system there’s a top court (Court 1) and a bottom court (Court 4). When you win, you move up a court, and when you lose, you go down. You play against the person you’ve just played with.
Please enter by sending an email to email@example.com by Friday 28 December, preferably sooner to give us an idea of the kind of numbers we can expect. If this is a success, we’ll look into organising more such tournaments.
All the best and have a good Christmas,
The winter league team has been having some good matches in the heights of Division 1 of the North Somerset Tennis League, where the standard is pretty high.
The website hasn't been updated recently, but it looks like we're fourth or fifth (out of six) and fighting for survival in the top division against Backwell.
The attached file shows the results so far, who played and the dates of the fixtures in the second half of the season.
Although we're in the depths of winter, we should start thinking about how many teams we'll be entering in the summer leagues. To make things simple, if you played last year, we'll assume you're going to play again unless you tell us otherwise. If you didn't play last year and would like to, please let us know.
Oli and Laurence played an absorbing, high-quality final on Saturday, with Laurence eventually coming out on top 1-6, 6-4, 6-1. As you'd expect from two such athletic players, there was some terrific retrieving, but there was also a lot of enterprising attacking play with frequent forays to the net from both of them.
In a hard-fought first set, Oli seemed to have an answer to everything Laurence threw his way, and it wouldn't have been a surprise if the second had continued in much the same vein. But Laurence dug in and gradually began to make headway. It was tight throughout, and they reached deuce at 5-4, but that was the closest Oli came.
As the third set wore on, both players continued to win well-constructed rallies, but Laurence gradually began to establish a bit of a stranglehold, making full use of his top-spin forehand and charging to the net at every opportunity. By contrast, Oli's game was no longer looking quite so robust, and one or two volleys went awry at crucial points.
It was a very enjoyable match to watch, one of those where it was a shame there had to be a loser. And it made me want to get out on court and play more singles! Does anyone else feel the same?
So that's the club tournament done and dusted for another year. Thanks again to Shingo and Matt for organising it.
We played the club tournament doubles finals on Saturday. There were 15 of us involved, the rain held off, and there was some really good tennis played. The winners were:
The mixed doubles final was a really high-quality match with some fantastic rallies. David and Sophie, who replaced the injured Kerry, just managed to get their noses in front of Oli and Kelly.
There are some pictures on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pg/TauntonTennisClub
We've still only got the one team (in Division 1 of the North Somerset League), and it looks like we're a bit short of ladies for a second team. Is anyone interested who hasn't come forward so far? We still have time to enter a mixed team in Division 4 of the Yeovil & District League.
The Monday and Friday evening sessions are starting next week. Karin's Thursday lunchtime and Sunday evening sessions are starting in the week beginning 24 September.
Local league results
summer local league standings
Yeovil & District League
North Somerset League
West Somerset League
Mixed A team
Mixed B team
Mixed C team
winter local league standings
Culm and Exe Valleys League