Being out of shape is no excuse for losing your first match this season. By dedicating a few hours each week, you can be ready to last for long sets — those aces are still up to you. For the workout plan, we’ve turned to Court 16, a Brooklyn-based tennis club behind a new fitness program that incorporates technique and basic moves into a full hour’s routine that’ll kick your ass and have you feeling it the next morning. “We wanted to design something that’s intense, with a strong cardio component, but also something where you’re going back to the tennis basics and really feeling the ball,” says Anthony Evrard, founder of Court 16. Here, Evrard and the Court 16 team offer five essential drills that’ll get you fit and prepared for the court this season.
The Workout: Groundstrokes On the Run
How to Do It: Hit two shots. First: Hit from a stationary position on the far singles line. Second: Hit the ball on the other side of the court while on the dead run. As the drill progresses, the second ball should be fed farther away to make you fight through fatigue and maximize every last ounce of energy. Note: This drill works best with multiple players.
How It Prepares You: "This drill can be executed with forehands and backhands and is useful for players of all skill levels,” Evrard says. "Players will learn the difference between hitting balls in stationary positions and hitting balls on the run." Plus, it will increase your heart rate.
The Workout: Box Tennis
How to Do It: Start with two players standing in the service box. With the strings of the racquet open (facing up toward the sky), the ball is put into play. Alternate hits, and only let the ball bounce once — all while staying within the service box. Note: A net is not required.
How It Prepares You: "This game involves constant lunging, stretching, and sliding. It also helps players improve their reactionary skills as there is a short amount of time in between shots.” Evrard says this drill is quick and easy to do on a court of any size.
The Workout: 10-Ball Scramble
How to Do It: One player starts on the baseline. The coach stands on the opposite side of the net and feeds balls anywhere on the court. The player is allowed to remain in as long as they get any part of their racquet to touch the ball, or up to 10 balls (whichever comes first). It does not have to cross the net.
How It Prepares You: "This is another drill that will allow players to work on their reactionary skills, ability to cover the entire court, and, of course, test their cardio, stamina, and endurance,” Evrard says.
The Workout: Jump Rope Sequence
How to Do It:
Exercise 1: Basic Skip
Kick one foot behind the body while kicking the other foot in front. Alternate legs for 45 seconds. Rest 20 seconds.
Exercise 2: Jack Jump
Jump with the feet landing wide for 45 seconds. Rest 20 seconds.
Exercise 3: High Jump
Jump while bringing one knee up as high as you can. Alternate knees for 45 seconds. Rest 20 seconds.
Exercise 4: Butt Kicks
Jump while bringing the back of your foot as close to your glutes as you can. Alternate legs for 45 seconds. Rest 20 seconds.
Exercise 5: 1-Minute Burn-Out
For 1 minute, jump as fast as possible.
How It Prepares You: "Along with boosting your cardiovascular system, this fitness exercise works to develop those fast twitch muscles that are so essential to the game of tennis,” Evrard says. "Jumping rope is also a fun, dynamic way to increase one's ability to produce the powerful bursts of movement needed in any tennis match."
The Workout: Medicine Ball Sequence
How to Do It: With two players, start by holding the medicine ball at your back hip with two hands, with hips turned sideways. Step with the front foot and toss the ball across the net, releasing the ball out in front of the body. Toss back and forth for 45 seconds. Rest for 45 seconds. Repeat five times. Tip: Keep abs engaged and pulled toward spine; start with weight on back leg, and load onto front leg as ball is released. Rotate hips and core as fast as possible.
How It Prepares You: "The greatest athletes in the world use medicine balls to improve their strength and ability to rotate through their shots,” Evrard says. This move also helps teach players how to approach the ball when executing a forehand or backhand groundstroke.