THE MAIN EMPHASIS FOR IMPROVING SPEED AND QUICKNESS FOR TENNIS
Tennis singles involves continuous short bursts of speed forward, backward, diagonally, and left and right. Depending upon the style of play, a point may last as little as 5-10 seconds or as long as 60 seconds. Improving the speed and distance covered in the first three steps should be the major focus of a tennis speed improvement program.
A total program to improving speed and quickness on the tennis court requires training in three areas:
1. Form and footwork training–Club tennis pros and other tennis professionals are excellent at teaching the specific step patterns and body lean for the multidirectional movements and continuous stopping and starting action that occurs on the court in both singles and doubles.
2. Speed endurance (anaerobic) training–To make repeated maximum effort sprints during the same point and between points during a tennis match requires a high level of speed endurance. Such training prevents players from slowing down due to fatigue after several sprints and allows a higher number of sprints to occur before lactic acid buildup begins. On- court interval sprint training is recommended using repetitions of 5-10 yards with very limited rest between each (1-3 seconds on sprints up to 10 yards and 30 seconds (time permitted between points) on longer sprints of 11-20 yards when using over distance training). Careful record keeping (repetitions, distance covered, total volume, recovery or rest interval) is necessary to insure progression and improvement from one workout to another.
3. Weight training, plyometrics and sprint-resisted training–Tennis is a game of stopping, starting and early acceleration (first 3 steps). These three training programs improve the speed of movement from a standing position (the start), the speed of the first 3-steps, and the speed of the next 5-10 yards of the acceleration phase by increasing ground contact force or the amount of force applied against the ground during the pushing action of each step. Exercises, such as the dead lift, Olympic Lifts, harness and sled resistance sprinting, and jumping and bounding are used. Of these exercises, the dead lift and jumping and bounding plyometric movements are most effective. Weight training must involve a minimum hypertrophy program (95-100% of 1 RM, 1-5 repetitions, 1-5 sets, and a 5 minute rest period after each set and exercise). This approach increases ground contact force without adding muscle weight. For each pound of body weight added (muscle or fat), an additional 2.1 lb. of ground contact force is needed just to maintain current speed. Improving ground contact force with no weight gain will improve speed of movement. A tennis player should strive for high levels of speed-strength in the leanest possible body.
SOURCE: National Association of Speed and Explosion, Sports Speed News Bulletin Volume 5, Issue 23 (July, 2009)