Off Court Tennis Fitness: Train Like the ATP & WTA Pros!
In 2011, Novak Djokovic took over the ATP Tour and produced one of the best seasons by any ATP Player in history. Recently retired Mardy Fish made it to a career best #7 on the ATP rankings that same year. Andre Agassi, after plummeting to #141 in 1997 made it all the way back to #1 in 1999. They all attribute their turnaround to two things: off court fitness and nutrition. This article is going to focus on what both junior and adult amateur competitors can do to improve their tennis game through off cour fitness. It all boils down to three words: Sports Performance Training.
I coach junior tournament players in search of the path to either college or pro tennis every day of the week. They're all looking to improve their USTA rankings. Their parents all have the same question: what can we do to get better? There's only so much improvement that can be made by just training on the tennis court. All the players who are winning matches in USTA tournament competition throughout the country are all training on the tennis court, and are doing relatively similar training. The ones who make big leaps of progress are the ones who take my advice to get off the tennis court and become better athletes.
When I advise my tennis players to get on a consistent off court fitness program I refer them to fitness trainers that are not tennis pros (or tennis instructors of any sort). I refer them to full-time fitness trainers who either have at least a Bachelor's Degree in Exercise Science, Kinesiology, or at least Physical Education, along with professional fitness certification. I also only recommend trainers who either work at or have their own indoor facility that my athletes can access year round. In any given area, that should narrow the list of candidates. Here are a few good examples of Sports Performance training facilities available nationwide. Here they are:
These type of facilities were first brought into existence to train football players. Now they've expanded to provide sport-specific training for any sport. The most common type of athlete to train in these workouts are those involved in “start-and-stop motion” sports. Tennis certainly falls in this category. Here's a very basic example of the type of training done in this environment:
That's just the beginning! Each workout is different and is always led by professionally certified trainers. This type of training is designed to help tennis players move faster, and have more explosive power on each shot. Parents often ask me "why not sign up for the school cross country or track team?" Wrong move! Endurance sports are a totally different type of training. It won't help tennis performance at all. For tennis, you need speed, agility and strength. So whether you're a junior tournament star, or an adult league player looking to move up a level, get off the tennis court and into one of these programs, and you can move past the competition!