The British government have relaxed the Covid-19 restrictions.  Brits are now allowed to play sports such as golf and tennis.  Every summer, many of us hit the outdoor courts to enjoy Tennis, so lets take a look at it’s demands.  Expert Ascot personal trainer Nathan Kelly highlights what we know about the physical demands of tennis.  This information can be used to improve tennis fitness.


More than a game of two halves

The number of Brits playing tennis increases in the summer months as the weather improves.  Therefore, outdoor courts become playable and the Wimbledon Grand Slam whips up interest in the general population.  However, tennis can be an year round activity, with indoor courts and a variety of surfaces available.  Playing surface, environment and quality of opponent will all influence the physicality of a match.

It is generally regarded amongst elite circles that tennis is a an early specialisation sport.  Sports specific skills seperate the elite from the rest of the tennis population.  However, the sheer physical demands of the sport mean that strength & conditioning has an important role to play.  Lets take a look at these demands.


Physical demands of tennis

On average a match will last 90 minutes.  However, matches   can last several hours at higher levels. Playing time is higher on clay surfaces (20-30%) versus harder surfaces.  Grass surfaces reduce actual playing to 10-15% of match time.  The work to rest ratio is approximately 1:2.

Points can last 3-15 seconds each, and have between 4-15 changes of direction during them.  Therefore, players  can change direction over 1000 times per match!  These movements can place between 1.5-2.7 x bodyweight forces through the knee joint.  The overwhelming movement direction is laterally.  Players will perform 20% moving forwards and only 8% moving backwards. By the time a match is decided a player can expect to have covered between 1300-3600m, performed 300-500 high intensity efforts and over 1000 shots.


Behind the numbers

Fit for tennis requires great lower limb strength.  Squat, deadlift, lunge and step up variants will increase strength for accelerations.   Leg strength also helps in absorbing shock when changing direction.  Performing lateral and rotational movements will also prepare tissues for the specific physical demands of tennis.  Unilateral upper body training helps with the transfer of power through the body as well as the physical stress of high volume stroke play.

Get fit for tennis with NK Fitness.  From building fitness foundations to designing specific warm ups.  Our experience in working at all levels of sport is exeplary.