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Ace your fitness goals on the courts this summer

by Josh Wakerman on Friday 19 January 2018

Let’s be honest, when we watch the Australian Open every summer, we all think: yeh, I should definitely get back into tennis. The sun, the sweat, the crowds, the perfect bodies of all the players shimmying across the court.

And most of us will never hit the court.  

That’s a darn shame. Because tennis is a great workout. Tennis players are incredibly fit, and basically experts in agility – so it’s clear tennis has some great benefits, aside from how much fun you can have. Here are some of the great health benefits you may not have known about: 

Improves cardiovascular health

If you’re the type of person who avoids cardio at all costs, tennis is a great option because you can actually have fun while keeping your heart healthy.  Tennis can help bring your resting heart rate down and improve blood pressure. 

Helps keep body fat at bay

Playing tennis can improve your metabolic function as well as help lower body fat – which is always a great thing! 

Burn more calories

On average, men will burn around 600 calories and women 420 calories in an hour-long match, which is a pretty solid workout if you’re comparing it to a standard gym session.   

Increase coordination

Tennis is all about agility, balance and reaction times – if you practice tennis you’ll become much better in these areas.  

Increase strength

You can also increase your muscle tone and strength while playing tennis, especially since you need a lot of power to hit that down-the-line winner. 

That said, here are some tennis drills anyone can do..

Whether you’re looking for something to mix up your routine or you just want to reap some of the benefits of tennis – hit the courts with these tennis agility drills

Ball Pick-Up Runs

These are essentially tennis’ version of shuttle runs – place 4 balls along the sideline, spread evenly between the net and the baseline.  Using the baseline as your starting point, run between the baseline and each ball, picking up the ball and placing on the baseline.  

The key is to sprint at full intensity so your body gets used to alternating between the fast and slow controlled movements.  

If you want to develop your footwork, try running in different directions (sideways or backwards).  

Quick-Step Ladder Drills

For this you’ll need cones or markings that indicate the intervals that make up a ladder. For the drill, you’ll want to step both feet in between each interval one after the other as fast as possible.  Once you reach the end do the same backwards, and then do lateral steps by side stepping across the ladder.

Once you’ve mastered the lateral steps, you could try adding in some hitting practice at either end of the ladder.   For this you’ll need someone at the other end of the court ready to serve at either side of the ladder. You basically want to hit the ball over the net, step laterally through the ladder, and by the time you’ve done that, the other person will have returned the ball ready for you to hit back over the net.   

The agility drill

Starting at the centre of the baseline, side-step to the left corner of the baseline and from there side-step back along the baseline over to the right corner.  As you reach each point make sure you use one leg to push off and propel you in the new direction.  

From the right corner, side-step back to the centre and from there you want to sprint forward to the net and then run backwards towards the centre baseline.  

Moving between these fast and slow movements will not only help your agility, but you’ll be well on your way to becoming like Roger Federer. 

(Disclaimer: you won’t become Roger Federer).

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