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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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,
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