| By Dr. Brian DeVeaux

The intensity and requirements of sports have significantly progressed over the past decade. Along with the increase in play has also come a requirement for athletes to participate in strength and conditioning for their sport for both improvement of sports performance, as well as reduction of injury susceptibility. Tennis players need to perform strength and conditioning for these reasons to develop and maintain their fitness for their sport. Two important aspects are warm-ups and strength training.

The athlete’s warm-up should be specific to the sport played, and furthermore, tailored to the prevention of injury. Sports-specific warm-ups incorporate movements of the athlete’s sport, and may include linear and lateral movements, dynamic stretching and muscle activation exercises.

Types of stretches
Static stretching: A slow and constant stretching technique with the position held for a minimum of 30 seconds. This longer hold enables the muscle to relax and allow an elongation of the muscle. This form of stretching is best done after practice, games and workouts.

►Dynamic stretching: This form of stretching is executed during sports-specific maneuvers, and similar to ballistic stretching in terms of speed of movement, but different in that it avoids the use of bouncing movements that may induce harm to muscles.

Examples for the following are specific exercises for tennis:

Dynamic warm-ups
A-skips

Bend elbows to 90 degree angle with arms at sides.

Rotate the right arm forward as the left knee is brought up in a skipping motion.

Continue reciprocally skipping with opposite arm/leg drive with foot coming down right underneath the body.

Lean forward slightly as well.

Go across the court two times.

A good exercise to improve running mechanics.

Butt kickers
Bend the elbows to 90 degrees with arms at sides.

Alternate raising heels to the buttocks, while allowing the knee to drive forward.

As heels are being raised, switch the arm position in opposite arm/leg fashion.

Go across the court two times.

Good to improve running mechanics.

Lunge variations
Lunge with knee grabs

Lift the knee and pull it with two arms to the chest.

Release the leg and take a large step forwards into a lunge.

Stand up and drive upward, using the lead leg and repeat movement with the other leg in a reciprocal forward direction.

Continue this two times across the court.

A good exercise to improve leg strength, dynamic balance and flexibility.

Backwards lunge with twist/lunge with knee grab
Take a large step backwards into a lunge position.

Twist the torso gently to the left and reach for the left heel with the left hand.

Return the torso to a neutral lunge position.

Stand up and drive upward, using the lead leg and repeat the movement with the other leg in a reciprocal forward direction and repeat to the other side.

Continue this exercise two times across the court.

A good exercise to improve leg strength, dynamic balance, mobility and flexibility.

Strength training examples
External rotation

Place a towel roll between the arm and the side. Pinch the shoulder blades together. Start at the stomach and rotate outward like a door hinge and return controlled to the stomach. Repeat for one to three sets of 15-20 reps.

A good exercise to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles and help reduce injury susceptibility for tennis-specific activity.

Three-cone balance touches
While standing on one leg, hinge forward at the hip, keeping the lower back straight.

Reach to each cone, returning to a full standing stance each time.

Can also perform the same exercise with a single leg squat.

Repeat the three cone series three to five times.

A good exercise to improve leg strength in the hip/knee, dynamic stability and core control.

Medicine ball forehand/backhand throw
Coach tosses the ball to the player’s right side

Player pivots their feet and lowers their base, then explodes the ball back using the legs/hips to generate power.

Can do 10 to 15 throws to each side.

A good exercise to improve lower extremity strength and power, as well as dynamic stability.

Band monster walks
With a band around both ankles, get into a good, low athletic position with the knees bent, toes straight and chest up.

While maintaining this position, step laterally going from one doubles sideline to the other two times.

A good exercise to improve leg strength, as well as lateral athletic movement.

Please consult your physician before beginning any exercise program. This is especially important for persons over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health issues. Peak Performance and Dr. Brian DeVeaux assume no responsibility for personal injury.

Dr. Brian DeVeaux

<p>Dr. Brian DeVeaux, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS, USAW, FMS received his doctorate degree in physical therapy from Touro College. Brian holds a bachelor of health science degree, is board-certified as an orthopedic clinical specialist in physical therapy, and a certified strength and conditioning specialist. He is also certified as an Olympic weightlifting coach through the Olympic Training Center and in the Functional Movement Screen and Y Balance Tests. Brian runs the Sports Outreach Program at Peak Performance&rsquo;s Lynbrook, N.Y. office, and conducts sport-specific conditioning, injury prevention clinics and presentations for athletes.</p>