Preparing for Tennis Camp

Our Top 3 Exercises to Train at Home

April showers bring May flowers, and Tennis training season! This is the time to brush the cobwebs off your racket — and your body. If you’re currently on a school tennis team, it’s likely that this is the time of year that East Coast kids begin training indoors; however, tennis coaches across the country want players to get moving yearlong. They know off-season training results in top performing players who stay ahead of the competition. That’s why we’ve put together these proven tennis exercises, so you can stay on top of your game while getting in tip-top shape — just in time for adidas Tennis Camps!

Tennis is a fine balance between determination and tiredness.

Virginia Wade, only British, female tennis player to have won titles at all 4 majors

Pre-Season Prep for Tennis Summer Camp:

1. Squat for Stability & Success

At a 3-mile average, the game of tennis is rated third (after soccer and field hockey) for running distance clocked per match (two sets). If your match carries out to 5 sets plus a tiebreaker, you can easily double that distance. The standard tennis court is only 78 by 36 feet, so a 3-mile average means a lot of sprinting within a small space, resulting in common injuries to knees, hips, and ankles. If you want to outperform on the court, leg training needs to be top priority in pre-season drills.

Leg training helps you to develop a powerful base and support explosive sprints. Squats are super effective, are simple to do, take little time, and don’t require a gym or elaborate equipment. Dumbbell squats strengthen your core, thighs and hamstrings, and help stabilize the micro muscles around your knees and ankles. 

Squats for Tennis Training
Proper Squat Form
  1. Starting with 10-pound dumbbells held at your sides with palms facing your legs, keep your back straight, and place your feet shoulder-width apart. 
  2. Lower your rear end as if you are about to sit in a chair. You want to get your thighs to be parallel with the floor, while keeping your chin up and back straight. 
  3. Pause in the lowered position for a breath, and then push from your feet and squeeze your glutes to return to a standing position. Use a full-length mirror to check your posture to avoid injury, and never lower to the point that your thighs are no longer at a 90-degree angle to your calves. 
  4. Work up to 3 sets of 6 to 10 repetitions, and increase weight only when you feel that 10 repetitions are no longer challenging.

I work with many tennis players who suffer injuries due to poor conditioning. Simple exercises like walking backwards on an incline will help protect knees. Add a high knee ‘farmer walk’ to this exercise to further build all strength and up your game.

Todd Murray, owner of Results Plus Fitness, Hamden, CT

2. Lunge for Longevity

Another great way to build leg strength and incorporate cardio is the walking lunge. Walking lunges are a little more difficult than basic lunges, but the added movement will also strengthen your core and stabilizers.

  1. Start with 5 to 10-pound dumbbells (or kettlebells) in each hand with palms facing your legs. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, and add a slight bend to your knees. 
  2. Keep your eyes forward, so your neck remains neutral. 
  3. Tighten your stomach, and take a step forward to land with your heel first. 
  4. With your forward foot firmly gripping the ground, lower your hips until your back knee is 1-2 inches off the floor. Maintain your weight evenly over your entire front foot. The back foot will rest on the ball of your foot with your heel lifted.
  5. Keep your shoulders over your hips, and pause for a breath while your body is lowered.
  6. While keeping your chest high, use your front foot to evenly grip the ground and activate your glute and quad to push yourself to return to standing with legs returning to a hip-width position.
  7. Repeat with the next step forward. Work up to 3 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions on each side. Do not increase weight if you cannot maintain good technique.

If you are just getting started with seasonal strength training, start with stationary lunges, or one-leg stationary lunges with a weight bench or kitchen chair. Remember: injuries before the season are NOT allowed, so always make sure to warm up slowly, practice good form, and know your limits. If something hurts, it’s time to take a break.

3. Monkey Around

Tennis was always sort of… a learning. It was a vehicle for me to discover a lot about myself.

Andre Agassi, former #1 World tennis player & Olympic gold medalist

After your weight training sessions, get outside and try this deceptively difficult move at your local park or playground. This exercise will improve your grip and strengthen the micro muscles around your shoulders, elbows, and wrists. Practice a passive hang daily to stay in the game — while having fun:

  1. Visit your local park’s monkey bars, or simply use a chin-up bar at home or at the gym.
  2. Grab the horizontal bar and hang for a count of 30 seconds.
  3. Try to keep your body as still as possible. No swinging — just a simple hang.
  4. After 30 seconds, drop and rest for 60 seconds. Repeat the 30-second hold and 1-minute rest 4 times.
Passive Hang on the Monkey Bars
Passive Hang on the Monkey Bars

Beginners can start by hanging for 10 seconds, but should work up to 30 seconds. Once you complete a 30-second hang, drop and repeat until you are able to complete 4, 30-second sets. We guarantee your racket will never leave your grip after mastering this exercise.

Spectacular performances are preceded by spectacular preparation.

Frank Giampaolo, award-winning tennis coach, speaker, and sports writer

Have you or your children expressed an interest in tennis? Are you looking to advance your tennis skills to prepare for high school or college sports? Register now for Summer 2022, and foster a love for the game of tennis. Learn more at adidas Tennis Camps.

Did you know that adidas Tennis Camps are the only tennis camps in the country with fully Double-Goal Certified Camp Directors? Learn more about our program here.

Do you have a favorite off-season exercise that has improved your tennis game? Leave a comment below to share a tip with your fellow tennis campers.