The game of tennis is a demanding physical sport that requires speed, agility and strength. When it comes to getting a workout in off of the court, you might think that the best way to maximize the benefits of gym time is by focusing on exercises that strengthen the arms and legs. The truth is, that if you really want to improve your game, having a strong core is key.
While it’s undeniable that you need a fit upper and lower body to rally like a rock star, your abdominals are essential to every move you make on the court for the following reasons:
Your ability to feel and maintain your center of balance is directly related to your core strength, and your game relies on your balance to keep you shifting and moving across the court with grace. When your core muscles become weak, everyday tasks like walking and even sitting become a strain on the rest of your body. When your abdominal is strong, it’s easier to find the alignment you need for the perfect center of balance as you chase the ball around the court
The game of tennis demands instantaneous directional changes and explosive movements. Without a strong core, it’s difficult to find the stabilization you need to do either. The weaker this area of your body is, the slower and clumsier these types of movements will be.
Building and Maintaining Momentum
Once you start moving during a game of tennis, there’s no time for slowing down. Your core muscles help you build the momentum you need to get to the ball as fast as you can. You can think of them as the muscles that help you rally!
A strong core protects your muscles and ligaments as you make your way around the court. Injuries often happen when the body makes fast jerking movements or when a fall takes place, especially when there are weak muscles in the body. A strong abdomen protects all of you, and especially your lower back, in particular.
Core Strengthening Exercises
Planks are largely considered one of the best exercises for strengthening the core muscles. To execute a plank, start on your hands and knees with your back in a neutral position. Next, stretch your legs out behind you so that you are in a pushup position. Make sure that your body is stretched from head to heal in a straight line. Make sure your hips are not too high or sagging. Work up to holding this position for up to a minute at a time.
Planks can also be modified and performed by lowering the body to the floor and using your forearms. To fire your plank exercises, lift your right arm forward and your left leg back while maintaining proper plank alignment. Hold and then switch sides.
Photo via Women’s Health
Side planks are similar to normal planks as you begin on your hands and knees with your back in a neutral position. Place your right hand on the floor and balance on your left knee or foot (knee for a modified workout or when you are just getting started). Make sure your body maintains a straight line from head to toe. Your left hand should reach straight up and out of your side with the fingers pointed toward the ceiling. Hold for up to a minute and then switch sides.
These plank exercises done regularly will help you build a strong and stable core, improving your game on the court and your overall life off of it. Improve your game off the court with these additional workouts and exercises.