The math is pretty simple: Get to more balls, hit more balls back. The keys include strength, balance, flexibility and awareness. Here’s how to get them:
1. Stay light on your feet.
A lot of movement is getting into the habit of split stepping—the equivalent of ready position, with feet shoulder-width apart, weight on your toes, and knees slightly bent—on every shot. You don’t have to jump up, just stay on your toes and look at when the ball leaves your opponent’s strings. You’ll get a good jump, and, by not being flat footed, you can change direction easily, says Justyn Schelver, co-director at the Van Der Meer Tennis Academy.
2. Get low.
Do more Romanian deadlifts. The single-leg varieties in particular improve balance and build hip strength, which helps you stay low in a loaded position, says Nick Anthony, a performance specialist at Athletes’ Performance.
3. Improve stability.
By engaging your hips, torso and shoulders in one move, you’ll build stability from head to toe, says Anthony. To develop it, try lateral pillar bridges. Hold for 30 seconds to start and progress to 1 minute. For a greater challenge, lift your top leg as if performing a lateral jumping jack and then tuck your bottom leg into your chest and hold.
4. Practice moving to your side.
Shuffle back-and-forth for 10 feet, without letting your feet touch and staying in an athletic position throughout, maintaining the same height and width. You’ll be disciplining yourself to have proper spacing and to move with maximum efficiency, all while keeping your balance, Anthony says. Do 3 sets of 30 seconds with 30-second rest periods.
5. Loosen up.
Stretch two ignored areas with a pair of stretches. One’s the quad/hip flexor stretch, the other is the supine hamstring stretch. Both will help increase mobility and prevent your ankles, knees, IT bands and lower back from overcompensating, Anthony says.
© Core Performance
Abbott Nutrition strongly recommends that you consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program and perform exercises under the supervision of a certified fitness trainer or conditioning coach. The effect of any specific exercise on a medical condition should be determined by your health care professional. The suggestions here are in no way intended to substitute for medical advice.