Goal Setting.
Tactical Skills.
Technical Skills.
Mental Skills.
Fitness Training.
Fitness Test.
Playing on Clay.
                          FITNESS TRAINING.

Today’s Athletes and tennis players are extremely fit and therefore it is necessary
to be at peak fitness in order to compete successfully.

Obviously, the fitter you are ( and this incorporates all areas of fitness Strength –
endurance – speed etc.) then the better you will be able to compete.

The level at which you play will determine how fit you need to be, someone at
the top of their profession, competing against the world’s best, will need to be
fit enough to play a full five set match at the highest level. If you are playing club
or league matches, these will normally be 3 set matches but with the proability
of two rubbers during the match i.e. 6 sets, then equally the fitter you are, the
better you will perform and also you will enjoy that much more.

Whatever level you are playing, I maintain that you will still need to go through
the same sequence of training schedules, the only difference is the intensity you
will be required to sustain and the hours needed to meet the required level.

It is most important to understand that purely playing tennis will not get you into
top condition – even if you are just playing tennis at a social level, I would still
advocate some form of training and this will help you to avoid any unnecessary
stress or the possibility of injury.

Before starting your fitness training it is essential to do a good warm-up, for
social tennis players who are doing some form of fitness work out, the pre game
warm-up on court, is often sufficient, but keep in mind how strenuous the game
is likely to be.

At the end of the work out or game, flexibility stretches should be carried out,
this again will guard against strains and injuries.
You must therefore look at a tailor made programme to meet the demands of your standard of excellence. This can make the difference between
winning and losing.

As you progress into the serious tennis playing fitness is the second most important factor after mental skills.  After approximately 16 years old
and onwards, specific physical conditioning can be introduced.

Physical Fitness is made up of the following:

Endurance – Being able to endure physical activity over a long period

Strength -      Maximum force which muscles can generate against a resistance.

Speed     -      Reaction speed, power/explosive speed – able to maintain speed for more than 10 – 15 seconds.

Flexibility -   Range of movements.

Co-ordination – Co-ordinating the muscular action with adequate speed & intensity

Balance -       Ability to maintain dynamic balance and static balance.

Power -          Maximun force generated by a group of muscles within shortest period - Strength x speed

Agility -         Ability to start and stop and to change direction quickly and effectively.

Tennis players need to develop each one of the fitness components, although some are more important than others. It appears that the most
important of these components are:

Co-ordination, agility, speed and power and these are where players should concentrate the training effort, followed by endurance, flexibility,
strength, response time and dynamic balance.

The training programme should involve all methods available:

On court work outs both playing tennis and doing various exercises.
Fast and slow running – on and off court.
Interval training.
Sprint speed training
Weight Training
Abdominal strengthening
Medicine ball training
Circuit Training
Agility training

We will deal with each of these areas individually.

It is most important to record your fitness training and the results of the training programme. You should monitor your training and have tests
about every 3 months, in order to modify or adapt the programme.

Under ‘Periodisation’ will be found the suggested 12 week training cycle, this needs to be adapted according to the match schedule.

The following are some test situations:


20-Yard Dash:  Record in seconds how long it takes from a standing start.
Mark off 20 yards on the tennis court, coach stands at the end of the course and signals the start, stop watch starts at same time.
Do three trials and the best time is recorded
Average times:  Males  3.16 secs… Females  3.58 secs.


Spider run.
Place a ball at each of the points shown,
The player starts from the middle of the baseline and retrieves one ball at a time and places it behind the baseline in the middle, each
ball is retrieved in the order shown. The player has 3 attempts and best time is recorded.
Averages:  Males@   17.4 secs   Femakes:   18.0 secs


The test is the number of push-ups the player can do in 60 seconds or to failure.
To be recorded the upper arm must reach a position parallel to the floor or below, the arms must then be completely extended and
straight body alignment must be maintained.
The best score.  Average  Males:   34 – 38   Females:   26 – 29

Player lies on his back on the mat, with fingers interlocked behind the head. Both feet are placed flat on the floor with knees flexed with an angle
of 90 degrees. For the test only and assistant holds the feet down. A full sit-up is recorded when the player has touched the elbows to the knees
and returned to the start position. Time is recoded as 60 seconds.
The best score: Average Males  45  Females:  42

Aerobic Endurance.
The one and a half mile run. This is an accurate predictor of aerobic endurance.
This is scored in minutes and seconds. On command go, players run on a level 440 yard track (6 laps). This test should be performed on a
separate day from other tests.
The best elapsed time:  Average Males 10 minutes 13 secs  Females:  11 minutes. 22 seconds.


Sit & reach. Measures amount of trunk flexion and ability to stretch back muscles and hamstrings.
Player sits on the floor with feet flat against a box projecting from the wall. The arms and hands are stretched forward as far as possible and
held for at least 3 seconds. the knees must be fully extended. A ruler measures the distance in front of or beyond the edge of the box. If a
player is unable to reach their toesm the distance is recoded as a negative score.


Vertical jump test. Measures the power of the legs.
Player rubs the fingertips of the hand neaest the wall with chalk. Then stands with side to the wall and reaches as high as possible overhead
makes a chalk mark on the wall. Heels together flat on the floor. Without moving feet player squats  and jumps as high as possible making
another chalk mark. The distance between the two marks is recorded.
Average:  Males  52.5 centimetres   Females:   39.0 centmetres.

In order to train effectively, there are certain principles to be taken into consideration.


Training on and off-court should be at a level you can find easy to maintain. Progress to higher intensity should be gradual to obviate muscle
soreness and injury. In order to improve fitness, the training load should be greater than that which the body is accustomed. If the load is too
light then there will be no sicnificant improvement. If the load is too heavy, then you will become fatiqued and fail to show any improvement.
You should gradually increase the training as you become fitter.


loss of improvement produced from traing can be due to: reducing the load or stopping the activity  Avoid long periods of inactivity. It takes
much longer to improve fitness but quick to lose it.


For improvement to occur, the body has to be pushed to a level beyond what it is used to.  Overload should be adjusted to take in the following

Frequency – Number of training sessions in a given period. Number of repetitions of a particular stroke.
Ontensity – Level of exercise ( high = 80% of maximum level, low = 50%)
Time – Duration of training and rest intervals
Type – What the session consists of (speed, endurance etc.,)
Quality – Quality is more important that quantity.


Training should be changed to avoid being dull which will lead to lack of concentration, poor performance etc.   Each session should be made
to have fun. In tennis there are many variations to make this possible.


Each individual will require a different approach to fitness and factors to be taken into consideration include:

Age and Lifestyle
Fitness level before starting
Illness and injury
Attitude towards training.

Weaknesses need to be considered and improved and individual training programme adjusted.


The training programme should suit the specific demands of tennis and of the player.

Tennis requires short bursts of intense work together with frequent periods of rest during a long period of intermittent physical effort.


To achieve a high level in tennis, you will need to sustain the effort and commitment over many years. You should therefore view goal setting
separately and plan short, medium and long term goals.


Recovery periods must be planned into any fitness programme, these should be:
Active recovery, practising other sports, basketball being a good cross-training sport.
Rest recovery, no activity.


It is essential to do a warm-up and a cool down whenever you do training or play matches. It is now considered that flexibility stretches
(i.e. static stretches) should be carried out during the cool down.
The warm-up should take from 15 – 20 minutes the cool down about 5 minutes.


This would normally take the form of running in various ways.
1 mile at about 60-80% of maximum.
Aerobic training
Anaerobic training
Fast then slow running over neutral ground. Run at a fast steady pace over 1 to 1.5 kms, then walk rapidly for 5 mins.
Practice easy running broken by sprints, repeat until fatigue sets in.


This involves a series of repeated bouts of exercise with rest periods, developing aerobic and anaerobic endurance.

On-court interval training:
Coach stands at the net and basket feeds wide balls, player starts at the centre of the baseline and must recover after each stroke.This
sequence is repeated for 2 minutes at about 85% of maximum. Player rests for 2 mins. Start off by repeating this 5 times and gradually
build up to 10.  Should be done 4 times per week during the pre-season.


Run on the spot, sometimes slowly with knees raised to waist height and then as fast as possible. Always done on the toes.
To begin with do count of 50, i.e. each count is when the feet touch the ground. Take a 15 second rest.  As fitness improves increase the
count size and also the number of reps.


Use stair running as an occasional alternative, Run up steps and come back down slowly.

Other endurance exercises.
Jumping rope
Power walking
Hill runs.
Participate in any sport or activity that requires at least 30 minutes of sustained activity – Cycling, swimming (but not before any other exercise)
basketball, football.
Runs around the tennis court incorporating stops, start, change of direction, fast, slow. Use short recovery periods similar to those in a game.

                                                                  CLICK HERE FOR ON COURT EXERCISES PDF