Ever watch Wimbledon and wonder how they trained to get to the top of their game? We’ve investigated the training techniques of some of the top players at Wimbledon and here are five sports training techniques you can add to your sessions so you’re training like a Wimbledon champion. 🎾
Wimbledon has completely taken over our lives since the beginning of July. We don’t really mind. In fact, some of us are really going to miss it. There’s just something about watching athletes at their peak performance that gets us inspired to aim for higher performance in our own athletic ability.
If you’re one of those who are itching to keep the atmosphere of Wimbledon around after the trophies are handed out, we have just the thing for you. We’ve compiled five sports training techniques that the greats of Wimbledon sometimes use in their training for the big event.
So if you want to train like a tennis champ, make sure you get all the right types of training in. This involves making sure you train your lower body, back, upper body, abs, speed, agility, endurance, power and strength. So basically everything! You see there’s a reason these tennis players are on the top of their fitness game… and why they’re so easy on the eyes too. 👀
Now you don’t have to miss Wimbledon, because adding a technique into your training session will bring you that much closer to the champs. Let’s bounce to it...
1. Agility training
Agility is the ability to move quickly and easily. It’s one of the key components for playing tennis. Think about it! Balls flying at you and you have to make it to the ball on time and hit it back in time so it stays within the lines on the OTHER side of the court! The pressure is on! There are many ways to improve your agility. For eg. ladder drills, spider drills, low hurdles, box jumping and tire drills are amongst many other. Lateral-running side-to-side drill is practised by those who engage in court-sports (like TENNIS) because it improves both knee and ankle stability.
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An interesting take on agility training is something called T-Training.
What is T-Training?
T-Training involves placing cones or any objects you may have at home or at the gym, in the shape of a T. Once the cones are in a T shape, you should 1) follow the T and sprint towards the centre, 2) shuffle to one side, 3) then shuffle to the other side, 4) shuffle back to the centre of the T and then 5) sprint backwards. Repeat.
Apart from training your body well for tennis, agility training like this will improve your coordination and dexterity. This will enhance your overall performance.
2. Reaction time training
According to Brian Mackenzie, “Reaction time is the interval time between the presentation of a stimulus and the initiation of the muscular response to that stimulus. A primary factor affecting a response is the number of possible stimuli, each requiring their own response, that is presented.”
For tennis training a lot of professional tennis players use a technique that actually involves a tennis ball.
Reaction training with a tennis ball
This involves a training partner. You stand in front of a wall. Your training buddy, from behind you, throws a tennis ball at the wall (it can also be an odd sided ball so that predicting where it bounces becomes more difficult) and you try and grab the ball when it bounces back to you, you catch it and throw it behind you to them. Do this for roughly 15 minutes
This helps train your muscles and brain to react to new unpredictable stimuli, which makes and keeps you mentally and physically sharp for anything that comes at you.
3. Speed training
In the majority of sports, the faster you are the better your performance. Speed training involves practising moving and accelerating faster, which helps to condition the neuromuscular system and this then improves the firing patterns of fast-twitch muscle fibres. To help with your speed training try including some jump squats, weighted squats, sled sprints, parachute running, plyometric training and even some clap push-ups, all of these can help with improving your speed. Maybe you’re already doing some speed training in your work out sessions, these can include squats, deadlifts, sled push/sprint, rear foot elevated split squat and even single-leg Romanian deadlift among others.
A great speed-endurance training is called Suicides.
What are suicide drills?
Suicides are high-intensity sprinting drills, they consist of running to multiple progressively distant lines, within a set, as fast as you can. So you would sprint forward to the 3 metre line touch the ground, sprint back to the start, sprint to the 6 metre line and touch the ground, sprint back to the start, sprint to the 9 metre line touch the ground, sprint back to the start, sprint to the 12 metre line touching the ground and finally sprint back to the start. Athletes use cones to mark these metered points ahead, but you can use anything so you know where the markers to sprint to and back from are placed. Do this five to six times with breaks between sets. See the diagram below.
Here’s a handy video with 5 of the best cone drills for speed (and agility).
4. Cable resistance training
Resistance training is “any exercise that causes the muscles to contract against an external resistance with the expectation of increases in strength, tone, mass, and/or endurance.” Resistance training isn’t something new, it’s also called weight training or strength training. This must ring a bell! 🔔 We’ve all done it before at home or at the gym. It includes exercises like pull-downs/two-arm bent-over rows, free weight upright rows, seated chest press/dumbbell or bar press, triceps press-downs/kickbacks, leg press/squat and many others.
Optimum Tennis emphasises that tennis players use (cable) strength training because “...aside from helping improve movement and balance, it can increase the power of your shots because the kinetic chain involved in proper stroke production starts from the ground up.”
If you’re keen to try a form of cable resistance training, you will need a partner. Fasten the cable around your waist. Have your workout partner hold onto the end and you move in the opposite direction, your partner would need to hold on tight while you pull to the furthest you can run left, and right and forward.
This builds the extra muscle needed when running without a “restraint” and can strengthen your stance. Specifically to strengthen your arms (the way a tennis player would) another type of cable resistance training involves using training resistance bands/cables on your arms, which a training buddy would hold into from behind you... You then move your arms forward in the same motion you would when stroking a tennis ball with a racket (forehand motion and backhand motion) this causes extra challenges to your muscles when they resist the pullback.
Watch this video to see the types of strength training that popular tennis athlete Andy Murray includes in his training sessions.
This one’s something we’ve all heard and done before. As common as spinning classes have become, they are not a fad exercise that is going to disappear into the workout woodworks. This is because spinning can be considered an anaerobic exercise. This means it pulls energy from reserves and assists in the building of muscular endurance overextended time-frames. But, there are aerobic benefits as well.
Spinning classes include both endurance and cardiovascular training. For tennis players, you can see the benefits! Even though a tennis player needs amazing upper body (arm and core) strength, their entire game rests on their legs. Having strong legs to carry them from point to point is a benefit to the quality of their game, and endurance is most handy to wear your opponent down.
Spinning training will keep you fit, even if you don’t have a tennis tournament to win. Spinning benefits for you are: burning calories, improving your cardio for a healthy heart as well as building lean muscle definition. 🚴
Check out the intense training Serena Williams gets in on a daily basis.
Now you know how to train like a tennis champ. Next time you’re missing Wimbledon and next year’s tournament seems too far away, try adding some of these training exercises into your workout sessions. It won’t make you a tennis champ, but it will make you feel great.
Lastly, here’s an awesome video we found for some basic training tips if you’re training to up your tennis game.
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