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Why tennis players need to lift weights

February 2nd, 2024 | 3 min. read

By Jen Azevedo

Tennis is a game that is loved by people of all ages across the world. It can be learned while knee-high and enjoyed as you age into your golden years. 

Playing tennis is fun, challenging, and socially engaging. Many tennis aficionados make sure to get a couple of games in every week to keep up their skills. Some even attend tennis drills to fine-tune their moves. But how many tennis players hit the gym to lift weights?

Tennis players tend to focus only on the game and technique. By doing that, they are missing out on becoming more powerful, having better endurance, and more symmetrical strength — not to mention reducing the chance of injury.

The Paseo Club is a social club in the Santa Clarita Valley that provides facilities for tennis, pickleball, swimming, and fitness. Many of our members are tennis players who want to improve their game.

If you are a tennis player and are interested in getting better, fitter, and becoming a more formidable opponent, read this article to learn more about why tennis players need to lift weights. 

compressedIMG_7026 (1) (5)Is playing tennis matches the best way for players to be fit?

Playing matches is a great way to keep your mental game tough and work on your own patterns of play, but it is a one-track type of fitness. Overuse injuries and an imbalance of the dominant side creates problems. 

If a tennis player wants to be fit, they must incorporate a comprehensive approach that includes weight lifting, mobility work, and running.

crop_comp_IMG-2697 - Edited (4)Why is strength training critical for tennis players?

Hitting and moving around the court are repetitive motions that require strength. Strength training helps players develop well-innervated muscles, which assists in force, agility, and explosiveness.

Without adequate strength, overuse injuries happen, resulting in lost time on the court. By not actively cross-training, you compromise your flexibility and overall functional fitness.

The 4 benefits of lifting weights for tennis players

Tennis is a great aerobic workout, but does not offer a large variety of strength-building. The best overall combination is to combine weights with cardio in tennis.  

1. Protects joints

Building muscles helps to keep the joints safe. When muscles are strong enough to stabilize the joints, the body can have more functional force on the courts.

2. Prevents injury

Tennis is fun, but repetitive motions can increase the opportunity for injury. Adding weight lifting to your weekly fitness routine can help to stave off injury over time.

3. Improves range of motion

Tennis players traditionally have limited range of motion (ROM) over time in the shoulders, wrists, lower back, and hamstrings. By including strength training, players can work to keep these ranges into old age. 

4. Enhances functional fitness

Help keep your body more functionally safe as you age by protecting the upper body and hamstrings with strength training. 

compressedIMG-8527 (4)What type of strength training is best? 

All strength training is beneficial and has value.

The highest incidence of injuries for tennis players is in the shoulders and back. Additional common injuries are in the elbows, knees, and ankles. Therefore specific strength training for tennis is essential to maintain proper muscle balance. 

Bands or dumbbells are the best choices to accomplish this, as they allow for working on a range of movements critical to every tennis player.

There are six main exercise movements tennis players should incorporate into their strength training program.

  1. Hinge (deadlifts)
  2. Carry (farmer walks)
  3. Pull (bent over rows)
  4. Push (bench presses)
  5. Rotate (landmine twists)
  6. Squat (front squats or weighted squats)

cropped_compressedIMG_9700  (1) (4)How often should a tennis player lift weights?

Tennis players should plan for 2-3 strength training workouts each week. With that plan, they can expect to see a difference in their overall strength and movement patterns in a short amount of time.

Improving your tennis game by lifting weights

Whether you are just learning the game of tennis or are competing in local meets with your league, your needs are the same — to be a smart, skillful player who is healthy and fit.

In order to make the most out of your tennis matches, you have to diversify your activities to include lifting weights. It’ll make you more powerful, have more endurance, and optimize your time on the court since you will have less chance of being sidelined by injury.

The Paseo Club is a private club with a full-service tennis department for drop-in play, drills, leagues, and tournaments. But the Paseo Club does not just offer tennis, we teach over 60 fitness classes each week, plus provide small group and private training and a gym complete with all of the exercise equipment a tennis player (and everyone else) could ever want.
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If you are excited to boost your game while connecting with other tennis players, come check out the Paseo Club by scheduling a tour. See our courts and fitness facilities, meet our instructors, and talk with other members. 

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Jen Azevedo

Jen Azevedo is a person of many talents. She is a tennis professional, pickleball professional, personal trainer, group exercise instructor, and the general manager of the Paseo Club. She loves the community at the Paseo Club and that it is also a safe and fun place for her daughter. Jen’s favorite activities are joining her tribe for trail races or her partners for tennis matches. Occasionally Jen slows down to relax with a book — she reads over 100 a year!