Imagine you can serve faster, hit harder, run across the court quicker, and never get tired. Reckon you’d win more tennis matches? I’ve got you covered. In this article I’m going to be sharing what I consider to be the three essential strength and conditioning workouts for tennis players. These are the exact same workouts that I’ve used with talent pathway athletes and top 200 tennis pros to get them dominating on court. Here’s what we’re going to cover:
1. My ‘Go-To’ Workout for Tennis Specific Strength
This strength workout is incredibly simple, and incredibly effective. In fact, when I worked with the cultiv8 tennis talent programme, we saw their players improve an average of 400% strength across the year. Yep, you read that right, 400%.
Trust me, simple is best when it comes to building strength, especially for athletes who don’t plan on spending hours in the gym every week. This workout let’s you get in, get the job done, and then get back on court to train.
- Squat variation (goblet squat, back squat etc) 3 sets of 3-6 reps
- Press variation (bench press, dumbbell bench press) – 3 sets of 5-10 reps
- Pull-up Variation (underhand, overhand, banded, negative) – 3 sets of 3-8 reps
- 2 Core Exercises to Finish – Both with 2-3 sets of 30-60 seconds – I love deadbugs and paloff press.
Here’s a simple tempo back squat exercise that I’ve used to increase my players leg strength significantly…
Do Tennis Players Need Strength?
I actually got asked this question a LOT during my time as a tennis strength and conditioning coach. And here’s the thing…
Strength Improves Every Single Aspect of Your Tennis GameAlex Parry
Being stronger allows you to absorb forces better, which means quicker turns and movements, which means you can be more agile. Being stronger also means you produce more force, which means you can run quicker and get across the court faster. Being stronger also makes you more powerful, meaning you hit faster shots.
Getting stronger is ab absolute game-changer for most tennis players.
2. The Power Workout I’ve Used With Dozens of Junior Talent Pathway Athletes
As a tennis player you need POWER, in fact, I’d say it’s the area where most lower level players are the most lacking. If you look at the top players in the world, the best matches, the average volley is only 4 shots long! (Braingame Tennis 2017) That means that you need every shot to count, and you need a powerful, snappy serve.
Here’s a workout I used to increase my junior talent pathway athletes’ power from almost non-existent to pretty scary!
- Med Ball Overhead Throw – 3 sets of 5 reps
- Med Ball Side Throw – 3 sets of 3 reps each side
- Box Jumps – 3 sets of 4 reps
- Acute Lateral Zig Zag Bounds – 3 sets of 20-30m
Here’s what the kneeling med ball overhead throw looks like. Notice how you get really tall, get a slight lean back (and stretch through the abs and lats) before firing forwards with a huge contraction of abs, lats and chest. This is literally perfect for creating power that will transfer over to your serve.
3. A Simple Conditioning Workout With Great Carryover to Tennis
Real talk, if you start your matches well, but then your performance starts to drop off as the match progresses, then it’s probably time to look at your conditioning. Each individual tennis point might be about agility and power, but when you think about multiple points, multiple games and multiple sets, tennis starts to become an endurance sport.
To help you with that, this is a workout I’ve used that is designed to mirror the demands of a tennis match. It’s long enough and has an average intensity that will allow you to build a good cardiovascular system, but crucially it’s also got lots of higher intensity moments to replicate what your heart and lungs ACTUALLY experience during a match.
|Work to Rest of Each Rally
With 90s between rounds
|7.5s on : 15s off
A Quick Explanation of How This Works (And Why It’s so incredibly effective)
Just to explain this bad boy a little bit. Each round is made up of 6 reps, where each rep is 7.5 seconds of work followed by 15 seconds of rest.
You will complete 6 reps, and then you’ll have 90 seconds of rest before you start the second round.
Notice how this really closely mirrors the structure of a set. In essence, each round is a game, each rep is a rally, The work to rest ratios are based on average rally durations for non-elite players, and the 90s rest between rounds is based on the typical amount of rest between games, when players grab a quick sip of water, balls are reset etc.
And the magic bit is the intensity. Each 7.5 second rep should be completed as a hard effort, we’re talking 9/10 RPE. And then each 15s active rest between reps should be reduced to 4/10. So you have this constant rise and fall in heartrate and breathing, EXACTLY like you’ll experience during tennis matches.
Which Tennis Strength and Conditioning Workout Should I Do?
Alrighty, so in an ideal world you might do all three workouts, but let’s say that you’re short on time, and you can only do 1 workout per week. Here’s my advice to help you decide.
- If you’re someone who is naturally quite strong or muscular, but not especially quick, then do the power workout. Similarly, if your serves tend to lack any real snap or aggression, then do the power workout.
- If you’re someone who is naturally quick and snappy, but who just doesn’t seem to have much behind your shots (or it feels like you have to put a lot into your shots to get them up to decent speed) then you should do the strength workout. Similarly, if you tend to get knee or ankle injuries a lot, you should do the strength workout.
- If you’re someone who has decent strength and power, and can hit fast and aggressive balls, but who gets noticeably worse as your matches progress, then you should do the conditioning workout to build up your endurance.
You’ve got 3 great workout options there, so you can either aim to do 1 of each per week, or you can choose to focus on 1 or 2 types of workout depending on your own personal strengths and weaknesses.
And if you need some more personalised guidance, or you’d like me to write you up a fully customised tennis strength and conditioning programme, then you can learn more about my 1:1 coaching options right here.
Til next time
Filipcic, A., Leskosek, B., Crespo, M., & Filipcic, T. (2021). Matchplay characteristics and performance indicators of male junior and entry professional tennis players. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 16(3), 768-776. https://doi.org/10.1177/1747954120988002COPY CITATION
Filipcic, A., Crespo, M., & Filipcic, T. (2023). Practice and match workload of a female tennis player in two annual seasons: A single-case study. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 18(3), 915-922. https://doi.org/10.1177/17479541221088836COPY CITATION