There is no doubt that tennis is good for you in a variety of ways. The game is played outdoors (usually), in the sunshine, you exert a lot of energy which feels really good and of course the more you play, the better you look and stronger you feel.
Whether you are playing tennis for fun, or competitively, you are going to get a good workout.
Tennis is an aerobic sport meaning your body is moving constantly, your heart is beating faster and you are burning up calories. The game is good for your body – exercising all your muscle groups – and it is good for the mind.
Is There a Physical Fitness Routine to Follow?
Just play tennis!
Of course if you are playing professionally, or are a professional athlete, you will have a solid warm-up routine.
But if you are new to the game, or just playing tennis for fun, socially, at school or college, at a club or in a league, playing the game is a great start. You should definitely stretch a little before you play, and you will definitely get warmed up as you practice / knock up before the game starts.
What is a Knock Up in Tennis?
Before a tennis match, the players always knock up. They hit the ball to one another, practicing all kinds of shots, including their service.
The idea is to warm up the body and to get ready for the match. A knock up is not competitive and neither player is playing to win, they are playing so that both players get ready for the match and literally, warm up their bodies.
In professional tennis, players will always do a stretching or exercise routine, before the match, possibly in their dressing room, with or without their coach.
How Fit Do You Need to be to Play Tennis?
Tennis matches can last long at times and fitness is one of the most key aspects of playing this sport.
Like any sports, fitness comes the more you play the sport. If you are playing tennis once a week, you will feel good and start strengthening certain muscles.
If you are playing tennis twice a week, you are going to get fit and definitely strengthen your muscles. Playing more than twice a week, even practicing on your own against the wall or with a ball machine, is going to really ensure physical fitness, strength and overall good health.
By the way, studies have shown that players who engage in tennis for three hours a week or more, reduce their risk of death from all causes, fairly considerably.
Aerobic sport or any physical activity is really good for the heart.
Tennis Exercises the Body and the Mind
When you play a game of tennis you are exercising your body and all the muscle groups.
But don’t underestimate how much you are exercising your mind. Tennis is a strategic game and for strategy, a player is using their brain. Tennis requires split second thinking, as well as a lot of good hand-eye coordination.
Your brain is getting a great work out, even if it is an subconscious one.
Tennis is a Strenuous Game
When you play tennis, and just think of all the tennis shots involved in a game of tennis, you are using every single muscle group. You are using your knees and ankles, your shoulders and back, your wrist, your arm and leg muscles and even your neck.
This is why it is important to always warm up, and to warm up every part of the body.
A new tennis player, or a gentle tennis player, is not really at risk of injury, although stretching prior to a game is always recommended.
But if you watch the champions on television, you can see how incredibly strong their bodies are.
Think of Serena Williams and her incredible strength. Look at Rafael Nadal and his chest muscles. Roger Federer has extraordinary leg and arm muscles. Novak Djokovic oozes strength and fitness.
In fact, all champions ooze strength and fitness. But they are also prone to injury and really need to look after themselves, before, during and after a match.
How to Avoid Injury as a Tennis Player?
- Develop a stretching routine prior to your game.
- Remember to stretch all parts of your body.
- Knock up before you start the match.
- Include forehands, backhands, volleys, smashes and serves in the knock up.
- Put something warm on after the game.
- Do a few final stretches.
Strength Training for Professional Tennis Players
If you are playing tennis professionally, it is likely that your coach will have given you a training routine. You probably do it together.
Any athlete should do strength training, and should do it as regularly as possible. Three times a week at the gym is good for everyone.
Strength training is about resistance and repetition. It is for this reason that athletes work with weights (strength) and do repetitive training, sets of 15 of the same exercise, 3 times, with a short break between each set.
You can follow online tutorials for strength training. Very often gyms will give you one free training session when you join up for the gym. You can get a personal trainer. Or you can train with your own coach.
Simple Workouts for Tennis Players
This exercise opens your shoulders and strengthens your arms. It also helps to stop tennis elbow from developing.
- Stand straight.
- Suck in your core.
- Hinge at the waist, keeping your back flat and straight.
- Pull your shoulder blades down.
- Raise your arms alongside your body.
- Make a T.
This movement is quite similar to a yoga movement. In yoga you would hold the pose, eventually taking your head down to your knees before slowly rolling up. For tennis strengthening, you would do the exercise in sets and repetitions.
Lunges strengthen your knees and your thighs, as well as your core. If you do them correctly, you will strengthen your arms too.
- Stand straight, core sucked in.
- Drop your shoulders away from your ears.
- Step your left leg back, keeping it to the left of your right leg.
- Square your hips off.
- Lower yourself into a lunge.
- One leg is bent, one is straight.
Hold the lunge for a few seconds, before doing the same movement with the other leg. Do the exercise, in sets and repetitions.
These are like drop lunges but you are doing them sideways instead of straight. The rules are the same.
- Strand straight, core sucked in.
- Shoulders dropped, away from ears.
- Step your left leg to the left
- Square your hips off.
- Lower yourself sideways into a lunge.
- One leg is bent, one is straight.
Hold for a few seconds and then repeat the movement with the next leg. Do your lateral lunges in sets and repetitions.
This is an important stretch for the whole body.
- Legs straight, core sucked in.
- Shoulders dropped, away from the ears.
- Bend at the waist, slowly, and place your hands on the ground.
- If you cannot reach the ground, you can use specially designed blocks.
- Walk your hands in front of you, until you reach a dog position.
- This is known as downward dog in yoga.
- Pedal out your feet.
- Keep your legs as straight as possible and do not dump into your arms.
- When ready, walk your feet up to your hands.
- Forward fold, then slowly roll up.
Squats with Ball Tosses
We have all seen athletes do this exercise.
- Legs straight, core in.
- Feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent.
- Straight arms, a ball in one hand.
- Lower yourself into a squat.
- Hold the squat, throw the ball into the air, jump up, catch the ball.
- Go back to your start position.
There are tons of stretches you can do, including knee hugs, ordinary squats and bicycle legs. It’s best you follow a tutorial online, or your coach, or your personal trainer. Start slowly and work up to doing more and more.
Tennis Diet: What Should a Tennis Player Eat?
This depends entirely on the level of tennis you are playing.
If you are a social player, eat your regular meals and maybe add a banana for energy. If you are playing professionally, you are likely to be on a special and healthy eating plan.
This would include:
- Nutrients and vitamins
- Fruit and vegetables
The one thing you may notice that is missing is sugar.
Sugar is bad for any person, no matter what they are doing. You will always very often see tennis players having a banana between sets, or games, and energy drinks too.
Energy drinks may not always be filled with the best things (sugar, artificial sweeteners) but they certainly do the trick for rehydration and any tennis player, or athletes, needs to stay hydrated.
What Could be on a Tennis Players’ Menu?
- Oats, fruit, eggs and a slice of toast and peanut butter for breakfast.
- Pasta with cheese, or chicken and rice, for a pre-match snack.
- Bananas, energy drinks, energy bars, during the game.
- Chicken, fish, red meat, with potatoes and vegetables for dinner.
Before a big tennis game, players need to be a little careful about what they eat. They don’t want to feel too heavy, or get an upset stomach. Saying that, they need energy and hydration.
After a tennis game, tennis players will eat proteins and legumes, necessary for muscle repair. It is necessary to drink water before the game, during the game, and after the game, and to always stay hydrated.
The bottom line is that tennis, played on a regular basis, will keep you physically fit, emotionally fit, strong and healthy.
Get your racquet and your balls, right now!
Final Words on Tennis Making You Healthy
Playing tennis is one of the best ways to keep oneself physically and mentally fit and the there are multiple benefits associated with playing this sport.
There are multiple ways in which playing tennis keeps us healthy but it must be quickly added that it’s not just playing the game that keeps one fit but also the manner in which one prepares for it that helps with one’s fitness.
In the article above, we have made a mention of both, how tennis directly and indirectly helps with one’s fitness.