Strength Training for Racquet Sports
Tennis, racquetball, and squash players must be able to react quickly and explosively to serve or return the ball and place it with precision. They also need to be able to repeat these motions many times with little rest between efforts throughout the match. Maximal strength, power, muscle endurance, and neuromuscular control in all planes of motion are needed to perform well and avoid injury throughout the season. Limiting factors for most athletes are reactive power and power endurance. Since power is largely dependent upon strength, maximal strength, power, and muscle endurance should be the focus of your training program. Cardiovascular conditioning should address all of the energy systems; alactic anaerobic, lactic anaerobic, and aerobic. You are only as strong as your weakest link!
Common Muscle Imbalances
Although every individual is different, there are common muscle imbalances seen in racquet sports players. Muscles that are commonly tight and need to be stretched include: hip flexors, quads, pectorals and anterior shoulder girdle, gastoc/soleus, wrist flexors, and lats. Muscles that are commonly weak and need to be strengthened include: trunk stabilizers such as spinal erectors and abdominals, posterior shoulder girdle and scapular stabilizers, rotator cuff, glutes, hamstrings, wrist extensors, and hip abductors and adductors. Because the racquet arm is used more than the non-dominant arm, muscle imbalances can occur between right vs left sides of the upper body and trunk. Imbalances may need to be addressed not only to improve performance, but to prevent injury.
Components of a properly designed racquet sports program include flexibility, core stability, maximal strength, plyometrics, musculoskeletal endurance, balance and agility, and cardiovascular fitness. It is preferable to do most training in a standing position and in all planes of motion.
Common Racquet Sports Injuries
Many common racquet sports injuries occur because of overuse injuries to the shoulder, elbow, or wrist of the dominant arm. Ankle inversion sprains are the most common injury in sports, especially when trying to decelerate rapidly during lateral movement. Poor posture or muscle imbalances that force an athlete to rely on compensatory movement patterns repetitively throughout the game can lead to overuse injuries, particularly to the rotator cuff or elbow. Most common injuries are sprains and strains of the ankle, knee, wrist, elbow, and rotator cuff.
Training Program Options
Option 1.The most effective option is to work one on one with a professional Strength and Conditioning Coach to ensure that you are doing the most efficient exercises correctly. You will first have an assessment to determine your current cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, and muscle strengths and weaknesses prior to beginning a training program. K’s Body Shop will then utilize that information to design a customized program that determines appropriate exercises and intensities so that you can maximize your performance and minimize the chance for injury. Since there are no contracts, you can work with your trainer as often or as little as you please. Contact K’s Body Shop to schedule your appointment or get more information.
Option 2. If you have a group of racquet sports players in the Twin Cities area who are interested in having a professional Strength and Conditioning Coach oversee your small group strength training workouts, contact K’s Body Shop. This is a great option for training partners to contain costs while still getting some professional instruction. Prices vary depending on number of athletes and location of sessions.
Option 3. If you are comfortable with technology and relatively healthy, Online Coaching can be a cost-effective alternative to face to face training. Check out our free trial to see how the software works!
Contact the Coach if you need help deciding which option is most appropriate for you.