In this article we will try to clarify and define why tennis players need a strong core to be able to hit harder and with more control. We will breakdown exercises that should help increase the strength and elasticity in that part of the body.
First we need to understand that tennis is a sport that uses the entire body to generate power – the foundation of power is the core, then we add the racquet and ball. Strength travels from the bottom to the top of the body, and we call it the kinetic chain. A kinetic chain is a group of elements that produce the movement (body segments, with its muscles, joints and nerves) and offer strength. Kinetic chains can be open or closed, but we will not get into details because we do not need to understand kinematics in tennis strokes.
Once we understand this, we can see how a weak core could break the power transfer from the bottom to the top parts of the body, resulting in a slower and less powerful stroke. We also should note that back injuries are common amongst tennis players. That is why we need to work on strengthening the back.
Here we describe some exercises you can do. It is also important to start with a good warm-up and to finish any type of core work doing mobility exercises.
1- The first — and most important — exercise will help prevent injuries and stabilize the entire core. We use isometric strength exercises (static exercises where the muscle doesn’t change length) like front and lateral planks.
Example: Lying face down on your stomach, you will press up until arms are straight, like a push-up. Hold that position and activate the whole core. How long the position is held will depend on the level of the player and the timing of the workout. This type of workout can be done the entire year but will be used more during the harder weeks of training when we cannot workout much because we need to avoid fatigue so we do not affect our game.