It is far too common for tennis coaches and performance coaches to look directly at the movement performed on the tennis court during a match and say, “that’s all they need to train.”
This is why tennis players lack in areas that other sports athletes don’t.
Tennis, although considered a short-court sport- meaning the players don’t have that much distance to cover relative to other court and field sport athletes, is a sport that relies on great foot, ankle, and lower leg strength and elasticity.
A tennis player needs to be springy to get in and out of groundstrokes, volleys, and split steps. They need to be more like a ping pong ball hitting the ground than a tomato.
If the tennis player has incredible “stiffness” of the foot and ankle and the lower leg- they can “pop” off the ground quickly.
There are several ways to develop this…
- Play lots of tennis where you work on moving quickly around the court.
- Train with strategies such as plyometric type drills.
- Use the most elastic training method there is- meaning, the drill that gets the player’s foot to contact the ground and release from it faster than any other.
Yep, you guessed it! Sprinting!
Sprinting trains the player to develop incredibly fast foot contacts off the ground.
The foot, ankle, and lower leg start to become so good at creating quick stability/stiffness to handle the body’s load. They begin to develop more and more quickness capabilities.
This new “tighter-stiffer” lower leg unit now can load and explode much faster due to the sprinting workouts.
How might that help on-court tennis movement, you ask?
From my years of training tennis players and using sprinting as a training staple to develop overall speed and greater feet, ankles, and lower leg units- I have seen tennis athletes be able to use the new quality to handle loads much more comfortable and quicker during the change of direction, acceleration out of split step, and getting into their recover footwork much easier.
It just simply is good training!
Sprinting develops many other qualities a tennis player can use – great hip and core integration!
Amazing shoulder and t-spine mobility and stability! Incredible timing on hip flexion and extension to produce massive speeds. This is just for starters!
In the new Certified Tennis Speed Specialist course, there is an entire tennis sprint program module because I feel strongly about the importance of tennis players sprinting.
Regardless of what you SEE tennis players doing on the court while playing tennis, you have to look beyond this and understand how to develop movement qualities and efficiencies to benefit the tennis player’s movement.
Sprinting is my #1 go-to!
On your marks, get set, SPRINT!
In the Certified Tennis Speed Specist Course, I have an entire module dedicated to sprinting. Keep in mind, teaching your players to sprint is not only great for their on-court movement ability; it also can reduce the risk of hamstring, foot, and lower leg injuries.