Tennis Plyometric Exercises
Tennis requires explosive-reactive, or plyometric, power for a variety of shots. The downward bend of the knees and subsequent push upwards occurs on forehands, backhands, serves and overheads. Tennis players rely on their explosive power to make that first step toward a ball. Plyometric training can improve the quick firing of the muscles, which help player's cut down on their reaction time and get to the ball in lightning speed.
Start with standing jumps, bending down very low, then jumping up as high as you can. Stand on the baseline using the same position you would for a serve. Practice jumping six times, then serving six serves using a jump similar to the one you just practiced. Perform this drill three times per practice, three time each week, recommends Richard Schonborn, former chief coach of the German Tennis Federation, in his video, “Advance Training for Competitive Players.”
Stand on a box or bench. Court benches work well for this drill, if they are stable. Jump off the bench, then jump as high into the air as you can, as soon as your feet hit the ground. Perform six depth jumps, then serve six serves with a jump. Do three sets in a row before moving on to a new drill. Depth jumps are an advanced plyometric exercise and should only be performed by athletes who are able to squat twice their body weight, according to sports coach Brian Mac.
"Giant steps," also known as bounding, is a simple exercise that improves reactive power. Start on one doubles sideline and run to the opposite doubles sideline taking as few steps as possible. This should force you to take four to five very large strides. After you bound across the court, walk back. Repeat this drill three times.
Shuffle and Sprint
Start at the baseline, facing the net. Begin shuffling your feet with tiny steps as fast as you can, moving toward the net. Keep your feet in contact with the ground for as little time as possible each step. When you reach the service line, sprint to the net. Walk back. Repeat three times.
Jump off a box or bench, landing on your toes, trying not to move after you land. Try to “stick” your landing like a gymnast. Repeat six times.
Start at the baseline, facing the net, standing between the two lines of the doubles alley. Begin running toward the net, touching each sideline with your feet. This will make you stretch as you take large strides. Bounce off your feet as soon as they touch the ground. Walk back to the baseline. Repeat six times.
Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such Smart-Healthy-Living.net, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.