T Nation


I’m aiming to have the first singles position on my tennis team, and I was wondering if anybody knew what training methods there are. What exercises should I do to get a stronger shots?

Play more tennis, and get lessons from a good coach.

Well, I am a big fan of the O-lifts, so those would be my suggestions. Since tennis is an explosive sport I would make sure no matter what you do, do it explosively. No slow training.

Tennis is very much about technique. Look at the world’s best tennisplayers. They’re definitely not buffed. If anything, they probably have less muscle than the average soccerplayer (no offense there fellas:), and that’s gotta show something.

Anyway… any kind of training will help. Strength will help your game, but so will speed. Unless you already have good endurance, sprinting might help. Jumping up and down a box (yes, I know there’s a name for the exercise but I can’t seem to remember) is also pretty good. Basically, anything that makes your lower body move quickly.

Abs are also quite important, so train those suckers. There’s a lot of hip movement from side to side, so if you have strong obliques, abs and a firm tushy, you’ll have a great advantage over your opponent.

I would follow one of the programs focused on athletic performance rather than purely strength or bodybuilding programs. CT’s Pendulum Training for Athletes would be a good one as it trains all the strength qualities such as max strength, strength-speed, speed-strength as well as ensuring that you keep your muscle mass. It also allows a heap of training time for your sport. i would ensure that you have strong shoulders and forearms to prevent injury from striking the ball repetitively, plus it will add more power to your shots. Strong forearms are especially important for imparting spin on the ball as well and maintaining control when you are getting tired towards the end of the match.


I have played and coached tennis for the past 30 years.
I currently use a Westside style program for lifting and have tried several of Chad Waterbury’s programs as well.

First, as Dan John said, master your sport on the field, get strong in the gym.

I hope you are taking regular lessons from a good pro as well as playing in clinics with good players AND playing tournaments. If you are not a tournament player, either you don’t deserve to be #1 singles or your town has no significant talent. Tennis is a year-round sport and the HS season is typically a step down for the really good junior players.

The lifting that will help you is primarily posterior chain training. Squat, DL, GHR, etc. Balance the max effort work with longer rep sets as muscular endurance makes a difference.
You are effectively in a throwing sport (serving is biomechanically like throwing) so don’t do overhead presses, take it easy on benching.
Get on a regular rotator cuff/shoulder maintenance program.
Strengthen your back - lats, rhomboids, lower traps more than your chest. Triceps strength is more important than biceps strength.
Plyometrics (lower and upper body) and sprint interval training is really important for conditioning. better than simply long distance running.
Three sets of five 40 yard dashes with 30 seconds rest between reps and 90 seconds rest between sets is similar to three games of hard points. Running a mile has much less relationship to playing tennis.

Most importantly, tennis is a heavily technique dependent sport. You can be a skinny weak wimp and be very successful. I met Arthur Ashe towards the end of his career. 5’10", maybe 140 lbs. Arms like string beans. world class player.

Hand-eye-racket coordination, excellent use of body to whip arm and racket into strokes and serve. Ability to move quickly and change direction on a dime. Mental ability to compete as an individual and rely on yourself to figure out how to win, how to break down an opponent. Tons of experience playing and improving your game. Thats what makes a successful tennis player.

Honestly, lifting is way down the list but can give you an edge IF you have the rest of the package.