Taking the winter season off?

6 tips to improve your game while off the court

By Marla Reid, Co-Owner, City Racquet Shop

As league play tapers off and the rain arrives, it’s time to start thinking about dedicating some time to off-season tennis training.  This is the time of year to take a good honest look at your game.  It’s time to ask yourself, what do I need to do to take my game to the next level?   Am I fit enough to make it through that third-set tiebreaker?  How is my recovery between points?  Am I still winded, and do I play a poor point because of it?

woman stretching

I often recommend that adult league players take a season off on occasion.  This is important for recovery from injuries, mental lapses and getting out of a rut on the court.  This is the time to recharge for the next season.  This is the time to do the work off-court to be better the next time you get back to competition.  This is also a very difficult thing to ask of competitive players!

If you can manage to break away from the game for 4-8 weeks, then it’s time to train and manage your training with recovery days.

Here are some recommendations for training:

  1. Remember to always warm-up and cool down for 10 minutes.
  2. Interval Training:  High-intensity workout for short bursts of time.  For example, pedaling on a stationary bike very fast with good resistance for 30 seconds, then recovering with light pedaling and less resistance for 60 seconds.  Do 10 sets of sprint and recovery intervals.  You can substitute this formula for a treadmill, elliptical machine or outdoor track.
  3. Core Strengthening:  So much of tennis has to do with rotation of our core.  The stronger your core, the more explosive you become on the court and the less prone to injury.  Abdominal work with a medicine ball is a great core workout.  You can also do great core workouts on a lumbar ball.  Sit-ups and Superman poses are just a couple of exercises that work your core, and can be done with or w/o the lumbar ball.
  4. Footwork Drills:  Jump rope!  But don’t just casually jump rope, push yourself to do more speed jump rope moves, and work on one leg at a time as well.  Tennis is about constant movement, and jump rope will get you on your toes in no time.  Sprint work on the court is also another great workout to get your feet going.
  5. Resistance Band Training:  Use a resistance band to work on your shoulders and back.  Internal and external rotation for your shoulders will help keep your rotator cuff strong.  Also, rows with the band will help keep your back strong.
  6. Stretching:  You should stretch everyday…period.  Focus on areas that are tight.  Typically hamstrings, calves, shoulders, and hips are trouble areas for most people.  If you really have extreme tightness, use a foam roller to get into those areas.

I recommend adding a jump rope and resistance band to your tennis bag and incorporate this type of training into your warm-up routine on the court.

Happy Hitting and Happy Training!