Tennis can be an extreme workout in itself, and you need your body in top condition to perform these how to get legs fit for tennis exercises. A large part of the physical stress of tennis is in your lower body, sprinting from one end of the court to another, switching stances and adding power to your strokes. Knowing how to get your legs fit for tennis is a vital component of your tennis game.
Tennis is, for the most part, an aerobic exercise. Rallies are short in duration; however, the time in between bouts is also minimal, making tennis more like a prolonged exercise like distance running, rather than a true multisprint sport such as soccer. However, you will still want to train anaerobically to ensure power in each shot during a rally, as well as aerobically for endurance throughout the rallies.
- As with any exercise, the first step is stretching. The leg muscles used most in tennis are the quadriceps, hamstring, gluteus muscles and the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles in the lower leg. Before jumping into any exercise, you will want to do some leg stretches that cover pretty much all the muscles in your legs and feet. Some basic stretching will keep you loose, and help to prevent common tennis injuries such as knee pain, calf and Achilles tendon injuries, ankle sprains and tennis toe. Two good examples of tennis leg stretches are the reverse chest stretch and kneeling heel-down Achilles stretch. For the reverse chest stretch, stand with your back toward a table or bench and grip the edge behind you with your hands. Slowly lower your entire body down to stretch both your chest muscles and your quads. For the kneeling heel-down Achilles Stretch, kneel on one foot and place your weight over your knee. Keep your heel pressed to the ground and lean forward. This will stretch both your Achilles tendon and calf muscles.
- One important thing about getting your legs fit for tennis is not to simply work the involved muscles, but to train in ways similar to the way you will be performing in a tennis match. For example, lunges and squats will put tension on your quadriceps and gluteus muscles, however they will not stretch them in the ways and positions they will be in as you sprint side to side on a court. Modify your lunges from simple straightforward lunges to a cycle of forward lunge, 45° lunge, , lateral lunge, rear lunge and crossover lunge. Starting from your base forward lunge, do a set starting with your feet shoulder width apart, knees bent, and appropriate level weights in your hands, down at your sides. Step forward, bring both your stepping leg knee and stationary leg knees to right angles going down, then returning to a starting position. Next, do a set going 45° to your left, then 45° to your right. Then, place the weights in front of you, lunging laterally to your left one set and right one set. You want to step out to the side so as to bring your stepping knee in line with your hip while squeezing your shoulder blades together. Next, do a set of lunges exactly like the forward lunge, however this time, step backward instead of forward. Lastly, to do a crossover lunger, start in the same position as a forward lunge, however this time when stepping forward, cross the midline of your body, keeping both your trunk and toes pointing forward. This lunge will stretch your muscles in ways similar to hitting a low volley in a closed hip position.
- By making alterations to the ones above to your routine exercise program, you can train your body in movements and positions you will be in constantly as you play tennis, improving your reaction time, and simultaneously helping your body protect itself from injury.
As with any exercise, be sure to consult your physician regularly, and take proper precautions by stretching, warming up and cooling down. Also, be sure that while you are getting your legs fit for tennis, keep your upper body in tune as well.