Tennis Fitness

Tennis Fitness

tennis serve

As a very technical sport, tennis may not be for everyone. Tennis requires a great deal of patience and training to be enjoyable as an activity. It does, however, have vast health and fitness benefits.

Individuals who regularly participate in tennis three hours per week (at moderately vigorous intensity) cut their risk of death in half from any cause, according to physician Ralph Paffenbarger, who studied over ten thousand individuals over a period of twenty years.

In addition, competitive tennis burns more calories than aerobics, inline skating or cycling, according to studies on caloric expenditures. Playing tennis works all the major muscle groups and is a valuable activity for both aerobic and anaerobic exercise.

Tennis is a very active sport in which short, intense bursts of physical activity during a point are followed by a brief period of rest. This process, also known as interval training, occurs automatically during a game of tennis and creates an environment where the muscles are forced to use oxygen more efficiently.

In fact, this is one of the specific reasons that tennis is able to burn the number of calories that it does.

Tennis is also a valuable sport for the development of hand-eye coordination because the player must constantly judge the timing between the on-coming ball and the proper contact point. In addition, flexibility is required and improved due to the constant stretching and maneuvering to return the ball back towards the opponent.

Playing The Game

Developed between 1859 and 1865, tennis is a sport played between two players (singles) or between two teams of two players each (doubles). Each player uses a strung racket to strike a hollow rubber ball covered with felt (most of the time colored Optic Yellow.) Tennis is played on a flat rectangular surface, usually grass, clay, or a hard court of concrete and/or asphalt. The court is 78 feet (23.77 m) long. Its width is 27 feet (8.23 m) for singles matches and 36 feet (10.97 m) for doubles matches.

tennis doubles

The players (or teams) start on opposite sides of the net. One player is designated as the server, and the opposing player, or one of the opposing players in doubles, is the receiver. Service alternates between the two halves of the court.

For each point that is played, the server starts behind their baseline, between the center mark and the sideline. The receiver may start anywhere on their side of the net. In a legal service, the ball travels over the net (without touching it) and into the diagonally opposite service box. A legal service starts a rally, in which the players alternate hitting the ball across the net.

A legal return consists of the player hitting the ball exactly once before it has bounced twice or hit any fixtures except the net, provided that it still falls in the server’s court. The ball then travels back over the net and bounces in the court on the opposite side. The first player or team to fail to make a legal return loses the point.

A Sample Tennis Strength Training Program

Below is a sample program for strength training to improve your game:

    General Information

  • Training Duration: 6 to 8 weeks

  • Number of Workouts: 2 to 3 times per week

  • Number of Circuits: 2 to 3

  • Number of Exercises: 10 to 12

  • Resistance: 40-50% of single repetition maximum

  • Number of Repetitions: 12 to 15

  • Rest between Exercises: 90 seconds

  • Rest between Circuits: 2 to 3 minutes

  • Speed of Lifts: Smooth and controlled

About the Exercises

  • Sets: 2 to 3

  • Repetitions: 12 to 15

  • Load: 40 to 50% of single repetition maximum

  • Rest Interval: 90 seconds between each set

The Actual Workout

Additional Training

If you’re still looking for more after completing the first training program, below is a second program designed to be started after completing the first.

General Information

  • Duration: 6 weeks

  • Number of Workouts: 2 to 3 times per week

  • Number of Circuits: 2 to 3

  • Number of Exercises: 6 to 8

  • Resistance: 80-90% of single repetition maximum

  • Number of Repetitions: 4 to 8

  • Rest between Exercises: 90 secs

  • Rest between Circuits: 2 to 3 minutes

  • Speed of Lifts: Smooth and controlled

  • Number of Sets: 3-4

  • Speed of Lifts: Smooth and controlled

About the Exercises

  • Sets: 2 to 3

  • Repetitions: 12 to 15

  • Load: 80 to 90% of single repetition maximum

  • Rest Interval: 90 seconds between each set

The Actual Workout

Typical Injuries Associated With Tennis

Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis): A very common cause of elbow pain. It is considered a cumulative trauma injury that occurs over time from repeated use of the muscles of the arm and forearm, leading to small tears of the tendons. Because this injury is caused by overuse of the wrist extensors (muscles that pull the hand up), rest is the first treatment step. Using the R.I.C.E. method (rest, ice, compression and elevation) of acute injury treatment is extremely helpful to reduce pain and swelling.

Shoulder Tendonitis, Bursitis, and Impingement Syndrome: These types of shoulder injuries are closely related to and often occur in combination with shoulder tendonitis, leading to an impingement syndrome. If the muscles and tendons of the rotator cuff or the bursa of the shoulder are injured, they become inflamed and swollen. Treatment includes rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medicines. Physical therapy is prescribed in some cases.

Tendonitis of the Wrist: An irritation and swelling of the tissue or ‘tunnel’ which surrounds the tendons of the thumb. Pain in the front of the wrist is a common symptom of tendonitis. Bending and extending the wrist is usually painful, and there may be swelling in the wrist. If treated early, tendonitis can improve quickly. Steroid injections or anti-inflammatory medications can be used in most cases. More serious tendonitis may require surgery.

Nutritional Tips for Tennis Players

A typical individual burns 5 to 11 calories per minute, or 300 to 660 calories per hour, when they play singles recreational tennis. Individuals that play doubles tennis burn, on average, 3.4 to 7.7 calories per minute Competitive tennis players can burn 6.4 to 14.4 calories per minute, or 384 to 864 calories per hour, of activity. As is evident, tennis has the ability to burn a high number of calories per hour and is an excellent form of exercise.

You need to consume at least 2.7 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight per day (6 g/kg/day). When you are on the court for several hours a day, you need to consume even more carbohydrates: 3.2 to 4.5 grams per pound per day (7 to 10 g/kg/day).

Consuming carbohydrates can improve your endurance, overall energy level, and the quality of your stroke in the final stages of a long tennis match. In general ,try to consume 100 grams of carbohydrates approximately 30 minutes before the match, and consume an additional 50 grams every 2 hours throughout the match. Good sources of carbohydrates include whole grain breads and cereals, fruits and vegetables.

Tennis players need 0.55 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day (1.2 to 1.7 g/kg/day). Eating more protein than this will not improve your tennis performance. Good sources of protein include fish, chicken, turkey, beef, low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs, nuts and soy foods (e.g. tofu, soy nuts and soy burgers).

Carbohydrates are better fuel than fat for playing tennis, but you do need to eat some fat every day to stay healthy. Your body will burn fat for energy during long matches. Eat at least 0.45 grams of fat per pound of body weight per day (1 g/kg). Choose heart-healthy fats such as canola oil, olive oil and nuts.

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