In this post I wanted to show a great conditioning drill that will help you have a more technically efficient tennis motion, and get used to using large muscle groups to generate power for your tennis strokes.
First, get warmed up. Do some jumping jacks, twists, circles with your shoulders, stretch your lats, glutes, etc. Use light weight if you use any weight at all.
Using a 5 lb medicine ball (I didn’t have one so am using a 5 lb plate), hold onto the ball and just shadow swing forehands and backhands. As your arms move through, the weight will force you to rotate your body.
Your arms should be bent. Your back posture should be good, and straight. Your legs should be bent. Your head should be up. Stay relaxed. Just warm up your core, and feel your muscles working together in your core, legs, and shoulders.
Once you are warmed up, using the light 5 lb weight, do the same motion but try and release the medicine ball / weight and try to launch it as far as you can. They key to generating maximum distance will be proper shoulder turn and leg bend.
Practice tennis footwork to generate even more power. Here I’m taking a series of shuffle steps to get my momentum moving forward behind the “stroke”. This gives you extra distance on your throw, and it will get you used to the idea of getting your body weight behind your tennis shots. More distance here generally equates to more power on the court. If you try taking the weight behind you, it will be very difficult to throw it in a straight line. What you’re practicing here is getting as much force and power behind a single vector / direction as possible. You want to input all your force into a single point (at the ball).
Use two hands for both forehands and backhands. Focus on using your legs, and maintaining good balance. It will be almost impossible to not rotate fully through this stroke, so hopefully you don’t have to think about it. If you don’t fully rotate your back foot around in front of your front foot, you’re likely going to hurt yourself. I wouldn’t recommend using any more than 10 lbs for this exercise. It’s more a body movement drill than a ‘strength training’ drill.
This drill is good because bad technique here will not work. You will immediately feel if something is inefficient. Having straight arms or legs for example :
Please please don’t injure yourself doing this drill. Don’t use too much weight. 5 lbs is more than enough. Don’t hunch over your back, don’t hit yourself with the weight. Just be careful, especially when it’s something you’re not used to.
Ideally you’d have a partner to work with and practice throwing and catching the medicine ball back and forth. Since I don’t here, I was just chucking around weight on the beach. If you had a medicine ball you could do it basically anywhere. If you only have weight-plates, be careful not to damage anything.
Think this is a bad drill, or have some other good off-court training tools to develop power? Leave a comment below!