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Power Tennis with Plyometrics

February 4, 2009 03:18 PM

By: Tulsi Desai

Trying to get that extra edge in your tennis game? Have you been training relentlessly but feel like you’ve reached a plateau? Plyometric training can add strength and explosive power to either a well-trained or novice athlete’s arsenal.

What is plyometric training?

In lay-man’s terms, it combines resistance training and functional fitness. For those who require a physiological explanation to be convinced, it involves a rapid lengthening of muscle (eccentric contraction) immediately followed by a shortening of the same muscle (concentric contraction). Plyometric exercise improves nervous system function which results in enhanced reaction time and greater force production. The actions involve overloading the muscle by rapidly changing direction while jumping, landing, leaping, hopping, or stepping. For a tennis player, this means getting to the ball faster and then hitting the ball harder. Since plyometrics are most effective integrated in a comprehensive fitness regimen and can be molded to the specificities of an athlete’s sport, they can sharpen and empower tennis related skills that traditional strength-gaining programs cannot.

Getting started

The following exercises are a good place to begin, but will also challenge you. Remember to warm up for at least 5-10 minutes and if you’re combining with other strength-training exercises, do plyometrics first while your muscles are fresh. Perform each exercise on 2-3 days out of the week, starting off with 2 sets of 12 repetitions of each move and gradually move up to 3 or more. The work to rest ratio should be 1:10. So, if a set of jumps takes 30 seconds to complete, you should rest for 300 seconds or 5 minutes.

For more information and other fitness tips, please visit www.playerdevelopment.usta.com

Power Jump

1.  Using a bench or any other barrier that you can safely jump on, start by standing with your legs slightly bent.

2.  Jump up onto the bench with as much force as you can generate and land on both feet.

3.  Immediately jump back down to your starting position. Limit the time between jumps as much as possible.


Lateral Step Up

1.  Place a bench or a barrier that you can step onto t by your side.

2.  Starting with the right leg on the bench and your left on the ground, push off with your grounded leg and shuffle across the bench.

3.  Cross over the bench with your right leg on the ground and your left on the bench.

4.  Repeat until you return to your original position.

Lateral Jump

1.  Place a bench or barrier that you can easily jump over by your side.

2.  Standing with your knees slightly bent; launch yourself with both legs tucked together over the bench.

3.  Land with both feet on the opposite side. Immediately repeat, this time going across so that you land in your originally position.


Power Swing

1.  With a medicine ball or hand weights held in both your hands, start in the squat position.

2.  Starting with your forehand motion, twist your torso while pushing against the resistance of the weights as your move from side to side as if you were hitting a forehand, then a backhand.



Squat Throws

1.  Holding a medicine ball in your hands, squat down as far as you can go without your knees extending past your toes.

2.  As you push up from the squat, throw the ball into the air and catch it (or let it bounce once) as you squat down.

3.  Repeat immediately. Try to decrease the time between squats as much as possible.

Sits Ups v 4.0

1.  Holding a medicine ball in your hands, lay down horizontal on the ground with your arms above your head.

2.  For the next step, you can have another person across from you or do it on your own. As you push up into a sitting position, throw the medicine ball to your partner. If you are by yourself, simply hold onto the ball.

3.  Have your partner thrown the ball back to you as your lower yourself down to start again.

* Model: Andy Gladstone 






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