Information compiled by Alvaro Lopez Samanes, CTPS
 
 
By LaRue Cook, Certified Tennis Performance Specialist, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

Tennis requires the coordination, cooperation and synchronization of several body parts and muscle groups in order for you to be effective on the court.  Yet, many tennis athletes who work out treat their bodies and their workouts as if their body is a collection of unrelated parts! They will often work one muscle at a time, in isolation.  If this describes you, then please read on.  These types of individual muscle exercises are called single-joint exercises and an example would be your standard bicep curl where the exercise targets that single muscle. Make no mistake, there is definitely a place in a workout for these types of exercises, for example, single-joint exercises are often used in a rehabilitation setting to specifically target an injured or repaired muscle or body part.  It is also a great way to strengthen a particular muscle that may be weak and not adequately or safely doing its part to fulfill its role in more complex multi-joint movements required in tennis.  By strengthening that single muscle we can make the entire chain of muscles more effective.  For example, think of lining up a set of dominos so that when you tip over the first in the line, the successive domino knocks over the next and so on.  Now what would happen if I replaced one of those dominos with one made of marshmellow?  It probably would not be able to perform its duty in the chain by knocking over the next, or at best, would slow-down the process; it simply isn’t strong enough.  To get that domino to perform its full function we’d need to strengthen it by replacing it with a ‘stronger’ domino.  Similarly, we may need to train individual muscles so that they can adequately perform their chain duties

However, once you’ve addressed any individual muscle weaknesses, in order to get more bang for our training buck, and to strengthen your body in a more functional way for tennis, it is best to spend most of your training time on what are known as multi-joint exercises.  Performing the more complex multi-joint exercises (for example a squat that requires the movement of more than a single joint and muscle group) will better prepare you for similar types of movements and strength needs that you will experience on the court. These types of train the chain exercises will help you develop speed, strength and power for tennis by training the various muscle groups together – as they would be used on the court.  So remember, when training for tennis, Train the Chain!

About the Author:  LaRue is a CTPS, CSCS and also holds specialty certifications as a Youth Conditioning Specialist. LaRue travels the US providing specialty training and programming to Country Clubs and other organizations, working with tennis players and other athletes providing one-on-one and team Strength and Conditioning and Post-Rehab training. LaRue also serves on the Board of Examiners for the National Board of Fitness Examiners.

 
 
by Oliver Stephens, CTPS, MTPS
“Tennis Elbow” is an expression that we as tennis coaches and trainers hear on a regular basis.  There is a lot of information on this subject online and in some great books such as Tennis Anatomy (Roetert and Kovacs), Fit To Play Tennis (Peterson and Nittinger) and Tennis Training (Kovacs, Chandler and Chandler).

In fact, there may be so much DETAILED information available to us, that it may seem challenging to find a simple answer to the following questions:

1.      What exactly is Tennis Elbow?

2.      What makes it occur?

3.      How do we treat it?

So, here are the answers in a very simple form:

1.      What exactly is Tennis Elbow?  Tennis Elbow is sometimes called Lateral Epicondylitis.  It is pain on the outside area of the elbow.  Pain on the inside part of the area may be Medial Epicondylitis, or golfer's elbow.  Tennis Elbow is typically degeneration of the tendons that connect to certain muscles in the area (the muscle usually involved in this condition is the  extensor carpi radialis brevis).   {Remember, a tendon’s main purpose is to connect muscles to bone}.  When the tendons degenerate enough, this causes acute pain, particularly at the moment when someone is making contact with the ball, this is Tennis Elbow. 

2.      What makes tennis elbow occur?   Firstly, understand that tennis elbow is a long-term injury.  Younger players rarely have tennis elbow as it usually takes years to develop (at least 10 years).  The main culprit is incorrect technique on a one-handed backhand.  When recreational players “lead with the elbow” on the backhand for a number of years, then Lateral Epicondylitis occurs.  For this reason, you do not hear of high-level players with tennis elbow as they are all technically sound. 

3.      How do we treat Tennis Elbow?  The first way to treat any injury is of course, rest.  Taking a month or two away from tennis may have a big effect on pain levels and allow the tendons time to recover.  Also, making sure that the bio-mechanics of the backhand are correct will also have a positive effect.  Another commonly used method is to Strengthen the flexors and extensors of the forearms using light weights and to Stretch these same muscles on a regular basis.  I have also had students who have drastically reduced the string tension on their rackets and this has absorbed more of the vibration of the ball and has helped alleviate pain. 

This article is not intended to be a medical diagnosis or replace a visit to a P.T. or a Doctor.  However, I hope it can give you a simple understanding of what tennis elbow is and some of the common ways we can help our clients if they have this common affliction. 

 
 
By LaRue E. Cook
Certified Tennis Performance Specialist
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
As I constantly remind ALL of my clients - whether they are tennis athletes wanting to improve their performance, or general fitness clients needing to improve their general health and fitness - “nothing in sports performance or general health and fitness is a straight-line progression!”  What I mean by this is that as humans, we might see great progress in what we do one day, and then see it all seemingly come crashing down the next.  Whether it’s in practice on the court, or training in the gym, each day is different, and poses a challenge even to elite athletes; it’s what being human is all about.  In tennis, this concept often smacks us right in the face as the shots we or our athletes made last week or even yesterday, seem elusive today.  The key to developing a player who can handle these ups and downs is to practice how we, as the player’s support system, also handle these swings in performance.  Here’s what I mean.

Whether it’s perfecting a player’s technical tennis skills, or improving their fitness and conditioning, there will always be peaks and valleys on the road to progress. This is something that coaches, trainers and parents should be aware of, accept, and learn how to use to affect a positive attitude in their tennis athlete.

Coaches, Trainers, and Parents of tennis athletes, have a very important role as that athlete’s support system and in how our athletes react to the ups and downs of tennis performance.  How we react to the ups and downs of tennis, and more importantly how we teach our athletes to deal with them, can make all the difference between ‘success’ and failure.

Staying positive and focusing on what’s going ‘right’ rather than always focusing on what needs improvement, what went wrong or what is missing, is vitally important to building an athlete’s confidence and encouraging them to strive for better.

Here’s one example of what I mean:  During a tennis match your player hits a deep approach shot, adeptly moves into the court positioning herself for a volley, anticipates her opponent’s passing shot attempt, and then badly misses the volley.  What do you see, and more importantly what do you react to?  Do you see, and focus on the great tactical play she made to put herself in position to make the volley?  Or, do you focus on, and react to, the missed volley?

Coaches, Trainers and Parents are teachers, motivators and leaders.  Your athlete picks-up on many of cues that they get from you, spoken or unspoken.  Slumped shoulders, that unmistakable look to the heavens, or a grimace can all signal ‘failure’ to a sensitive athlete, and can diminish their desire to take such ‘chances’ or employ such tactics in the future.

So, the next time you watch your athlete during play or training, try to see what went right.  Of course this doesn’t mean that you need to ignore the mistake, but instead that you use any setback as a learning experience, not as a source of negativity.  You will be amazed at how this simple change in focus and attitude will have a positive impact on your athlete, and spur them on to want to improve, and to take tactical chances in performance when they present themselves. So remember, teaching our athletes to be unafraid to take tactical risks and to focus more on the process rather than the results has a lot to do with our Reaction!

About the Author:  LaRue is a CTPS, CSCS and also holds specialty certifications as a Youth Conditioning Specialist. LaRue travels the US providing specialty training and programming to Country Clubs and other organizations, working with tennis players and other athletes providing one-on-one and team Strength and Conditioning and Post-Rehab training. LaRue also serves on the Board of Examiners for the National Board of Fitness Examiners.

 
 
Compiled by Alvaro Lopez Samanes, CTPS
 
 
Compiled by Oliver Statham CTPS
 
 
Compiled by Oliver Statham, CTPS
 
 
Information compiled by Oliver Statham, CTPS
 
 
by LaRue Cook, CTPS, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

The tennis wall or backboard is an unbeatable opponent and tireless hitting ‘partner.’ In fact, when we compete against human opponents who get ball after ball back, we say that it was like hitting against a ‘human backboard!’

So, rather than dreading the thought of hitting against the wall - human or otherwise - you can actually use the wall to not only improve your game and hone your strokes, but also to improve your conditioning and your ability to outlast those ‘human walls.’ With the proper motivation, attitude and training, you can make this unbeatable foe a wonderful tennis conditioning buddy.  Here’s how I train my tennis fitness training clients using the wall.

Of course, first things first!  Always start with a proper warm-up (e.g. dynamic warm-up and a few easy strokes against the wall to warm-up).  Now you’re ready to PLAY!

Simulated Match Play

Start by playing out a tennis point against the wall.  Simulate a 20 - 30 second point by trying to keep a single ball in play for that entire time (hitting forehands and backhands).  Keep a few extra tennis balls in your pocket so that if you cannot keep the single ball in play for the designated time, you can take one out of your pocket and continue with minimal delay.  After hitting for the designated time, take a short break - simulating the time between points (e.g. 20 seconds or so), then begin again.  Continue this process for several points, alternating your hitting time from between 15-45 seconds, and your ‘rest’ time between points to anywhere from 5-20 seconds.  By using this type of ‘interval’ tennis conditioning session, you would begin to notice improved tennis-specific cardiovascular conditioning and be better prepared to meet, and beat, those human-wall opponents that seem to give us all a problem.

Let’s Bump-Up the Intensity

If you find that you want to up the intensity of your ‘wall workout’ session, you can do so by using a rubber medicine ball that bounces.  Use a ball weight between 2-8 pounds and throw it against the wall, alternating between forehands and backhands.  Stand close enough to the wall so that you can catch the ball on one bounce and don’t forget to move your feet as you alternate ‘strokes!”  Use both arms to throw and catch the ball. 

Because this is a much higher intensity exercise, limit your points to between 10-15 seconds until your conditioning and strength improves.  Also. as with any type of training, I highly recommend that you check with your physician to ensure that this type of training is appropriate for you before starting.

About the Author:  LaRue is a CTPS, CSCS and also holds specialty certifications as a Youth Conditioning Specialist. LaRue travels the US providing specialty training and programming to Country Clubs and other organizations, working with tennis players and other athletes providing one-on-one and team Strength and Conditioning and Post-Rehab training. LaRue also serves on the Board of Examiners for the National Board of Fitness Examiners.

 
 
Information Compiled by By Alvaro Lopez Samanes, CTPS