It’s very easy to focus on what to improve on, on the court, but what can you do off the court to improve your game? Here are some tips I have learnt over my years of playing that will be useful for anyone, whether you’re just getting into tennis or an avid player.
Shadow your shots
Get your racket and pretend to hit your shots. This will help develop the muscle memory required to execute your shots well on court. Shadowing your swings will be one of the best times to focus on your technique as you don’t have the pressures of playing on court.
Watch the pros
Watch the professional’s shot choice, how they move their feet to get to certain balls, and, where they place their shots.
Patrick Mouratoglou, coach of Serena Williams and now Simona Halep said, “when you see people doing the right thing all the time or most of the time, it comes into your head and then you do it more naturally”.
Work on different aspects of your fitness
– Sprints: increasing your speed and explosivity will help you reach balls easier
– Explosive movements: all shots require explosive power. Practice explosive exercises such as squat jumps
– Endurance: tennis is an endurance sport; a match or hitting session will be 1 hour plus. Make sure you’re able to keep your energy levels up throughout by increasing your endurance.
There are numerous ways to avoid injuries in tennis such as using the right equipment and gear (tennis trainers, right size racket etc…), warming up and down and taking breaks, just to name a few.
Very popular right now is the use of yoga for injury prevention, it also helps with flexibility and mobility rotation.
If injured, yoga and also swimming would be a great way to keep your fitness up whilst you’re unable to get on the court. With both being so low impact and therapeutic for the muscles, they would really help prevent and recover injuries.
Look at what you’re eating
Eating high-sugar foods (white carbohydrates, sweets, chocolate) will cause a spike in insulin leading to tiredness immediately after, so make sure to save that for after the tennis!
Increase your protein intake, this will in-turn increase your strength and speed.
Aim to eat complex carbohydrates (wholegrain, quinoa, beans etc), as they will give a slow release of energy and you won’t suffer from a crash. Make sure you are also eating enough carbohydrates; diet culture often demonises carbohydrates, but they are a crucial energy source for the body, therefore crucial for tennis performance.
Get the right kit
There’s nothing worse than doing exercise in uncomfortable clothing especially when you’re having to move your body in all sorts of ways. In tennis you’re constantly moving your whole body along with twisting and stretching it, therefore, you don’t want to be wearing leggings that are coming down, shorts that don’t stay up, a top that rises up or shoes that don’t fit.
Getting clothes that you don’t need to think about whilst on-court will enable you to focus on the game rather than the uncomfortably.