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!
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