How's Your Game Lately?

Last month, we discussed the importance of sport-specific training.  Do you know that a well-designed, tennis-specific training program can greatly improve your game, regardless of your skill level?  It will give you improved acceleration and speed on the court, more precise and powerful shots, endurance to win those rallies, and a diminished risk of repetitive motion damage (rotator cuff, wrist, or tennis elbow injuries).

Here's how to give your game a genuine competitive edge:

First, you'll need to improve your basic muscular strength, which translates into explosive power and endurance.  An overall strengthening program should incorporate core fitness exercises for all muscles, with a special attention to your abdominals.  There is no tennis movement that does not involve using your core muscles.  So, make sure to do lots of planks, core flexion and rotation exercises.

As your strength improves, you can fine tune your training.  Injury-prevention exercises for shoulders, arms, forearms, and wrists are important for your game, as are balance exercises (e.g. external arm rotations while standing one-legged on a wobble ball).

In addition, by working on the stabilizers and other smaller muscles - too often overlooked in typical gym sessions - you can prepare your joints, muscles and ligaments for more powerful movements.

Big gym machines isolate large muscles and tend to neglect the smaller ones, which are heavily relied upon while playing tennis. This is why 3 sets of 12 reps on a leg press machine, followed by the same on leg curl and leg extension machines, are a poor approach.  As is the goal of lifting more and more weight over time in order to improve your game.  Sure, you might be strong...but how's your speed and accuracy on the court?  If you cannot use your power quickly, your game will definitely suffer. This is why in tennis, we have to train movements, not muscles.

Did you know that a tennis point may consist of some five directional changes?  Thus, your training needs to address your footwork, agility, and flexibility. Working in multiple directions (vertical, diagonal, lateral drills, first without the racket, then with the racket in your hand, maybe using cones, etc.) will help give you the accuracy required during frequent bursts of acceleration.

Ideally your trainer will know how diversified your training needs to be and what training frequency and recovery time is right for you. Your coordination, mindset, skills, and tactics should also be taken into account when designing your tennis-specific training program.

Being able to play the game year-round in Arizona is a bonus for tennis lovers.  Can you picture yourself sustaining long rallies, hitting the ball time and time again, directing your shots with power and precision?  Once your training is specific to tennis, you will see significant gains not only in your game results, but also in your overall health and fitness.  What better bonus than this!

Magdalena is the owner of the "Be Fit Fit" Personal Training Studio (www.befitfit.biz). Her "Be Fit Fit" Blog can be read on www.verdenews.com

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