OFF COURT FITNESS
A young man named Chris from Wisconsin wrote me and asked for some tips
on staying in shape during the winter. Although winter is on the way out, I still
thought Iâ€™d give some tips on keeping your tennis sharp when you canâ€™t
get on the court.
When I coached tennis at the local College, I always had my players do cross
training. Cross training is playing other sports to enhance your tennis. Basketball
is one of the best. It has short bursts sprints, balance, agility, changing directions
and cardio-vascular endurance. Soccer is another good sport to play, it too has
short sprints and longer sprints along with great cardio conditioning. Like
basketball it builds leg strength and endurance. Swimming is an excellent sport
for cross training. You can get a good aerobic workout and itâ€™s great for
For strength and endurance exercises through the full range of motion, I
recommend tossing plyometric balls. Plyo-balls are large weighted balls that are
used to toss under hand or overhead. When tossing plyo-balls, you want to use
your body by coiling/uncoiling, bending/straightening while throwing, maintaining
good balance. You can hold a plyo-ball on your shoulders and do lunges, squats
or squat jumps. Some plyo-balls bounce so if you donâ€™t have a partner to
toss and catch with you can use a wall.
Jumping rope is an all around good exercise for stamina, coordination and
balance. To maintain or increase your cardio-vascular endurance you need to
exercise at least 3 times a week for at least 20 minutes each time, with your heart
rate held at a steady 75% of your maximum. A rough guess of your maximum
heart rate is to subtract your age from 220, then multiply by .75 to determine your
heart rate for cardio-vascular endurance to take place.
Cross training for tennis has been around for a long time. Try using cross
training even when the weather is nice and you can still play tennis. Above all,
any off court tennis training should be fun and challenging.
Doug Hofer, USPTA February 11, 2005