How To Create The Perfect Tennis Training Schedule
Want to create the perfect tennis training schedule?
We’ve worked with former ATP pro and super coach, Dave Ireland to find out how to build the perfect tennis training schedule.
Let’s take a look!
Your Tennis Training Schedule Is Incredibly Important
The mantra says ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’, and if you have ever seen how professionals spend time in between and during tournaments, you will know that they agree with this message with grueling, tennis-centric workouts and time dedicated to psychology and tactics.
Even Nick Kygrios, someone who loves to be nonchalant about his preparation, takes time to train, albeit in his own unique way. Meanwhile, players like Casper Ruud and Holger Rune leave no stone unturned with punishing sessions in their quest for perfection.
Whatever the approach, all elite players invest time in between matches to get physically fitter and mentally sharper – and you can too.
Like many club players, you may have limited free time or could even be ambivalent about training, but that does not mean you cannot implement a schedule that will elevate your game and give you an edge – and who doesn’t want that?
Here we look at the options you can adopt to become a better player.
Your Key Steps To Optimised Tennis Training
We live in a busy world with countless demands on our time, and without a clear plan, it is easy to let things slip. But fear not, we have put together some easy-to-apply steps that will put you on a path to better tennis.
Step 1: Manage Your Time
The biggest enemy of club players is time management. You may have a full-time job, you could have children, or like many of us, you may have both. Consequently, managing our time can be a constant struggle. Without a plan, the weekend soon rolls around and you’re poorly prepared for the next match.
So ultimately, our key fundamental really is awareness, recognizing the benefits we will gain from being proactive in the time we spend off-court. With this realization, we can assess our diary with the aim of carving out time for activities that will improve our tennis. And the good news? We don’t have to make huge sacrifices for a positive impact to be had.
But if you insist there is no time for training, think again.
Could you get out of bed 30 minutes earlier in the morning? Or could you shelve a little Netflix time 2-3 times each week? You do not have to find hours of spare time to see a meaningful impact and an honest assessment of most people’s habits will reveal opportunities for optimal tennis training.
In the world of elite sports exceptional value is given to key concepts such as marginal gains and compound improvement with the ability to be consistent heralded as the biggest game-changer. So, if you can regularly find just half an hour for 2-3 times each week for physical activities and a few minutes more for non-physical activities (as we will explain), things will trend in a very positive direction.
Step: 2 – Stretching For Success
Tennis is a physically demanding sport and few things limit potential and enjoyment more than your own physical limitations. So, if we are optimizing what our tennis training schedule looks like, especially if time is limited, then tennis-specific exercise is a non-negotiable with stretching being of paramount importance.
We know that the thought of stretching is hardly exciting, but few things will help your game more than this. Many of us live sedentary lifestyles, we go from sitting behind a desk and in our cars, only to demand our bodies play tennis without some sort of maintenance program.
It is crazy.
So, while we advocate stretching to help condition our body to be competition-ready, we should approach stretching as an insurance policy, as something that helps reduce the risk of injury, keeping you on-court each week.
One beauty associated with stretching is you can do it anywhere and at any time, – there really is no excuse for not doing it.
All you need is a little space and a commitment to be consistent.
And if you want to double down on the benefits associated with stretching, yoga takes things up a notch, focussing on the entire body and often incorporating breathing exercises to make it a meditative practice. As we will touch on later, meditation and effective breathing can be hugely beneficial for your well-being and game. Plus, there are ample free online yoga resources to guide you!
Our advice would be to dedicate three sessions of anything between 5 minutes and 15 minutes to undertake a whole-body stretching routine. It is not a huge amount of time and providing you are consistent, the benefits derived from each session will soon compound and begin to materialize on the court.
Step 3: An Intelligent Approach To Fitness
If you have ample free time we would advocate spending a good amount of that time in the gym, but regardless of your schedule, your training must be approached in a mindful and strategic fashion. to really optimize your tennis training.
When we say ‘mindful’, we are thinking about the time of your session. If you can only exercise late at night because of work or family commitments then you have to consider the impact such sessions will have on your sleep. HIIT sessions (high-intensity interval training) close to bedtime can inhibit sleep for example, so we recommend weight-based sessions and/or core-related exercises – something to keep your levels of stimulus at a modest level.
Additionally, also think about when you train relative to when you are scheduled to play next. There is little point in lifting heavy weights on a Thursday when your next match is on Saturday. Your DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) will have really kicked in and your body won’t appreciate being asked to play tennis! while feeling stiff and sore!
But, if you cannot get to a gym for whatever reason, do not fear.
For a modest investment in time and money, we can improvise and still maintain an optimized tennis training routine.
Resistance bands have become a go-to accessory for many professional players and they are impressively versatile, contributing to flexibility and strength. And as with stretching alone, there is no reason as to why a simple resistance-band workout cannot be inserted into your weekly schedule without fuss.
So, whether you grab a few minutes before work, a quick session once you are home, or even snag a lunch-hour blast, resistance bands are highly portable and adaptable. There are plenty of workouts to be found online and if you can couple basic stretching exercises with ‘band work’ you are well on the way to becoming more supple, strong, and ready.
And if you really wish to enhance your fitness without any real imposition upon your wallet or diary buy yourself a skipping rope. So many professional players can be found bouncing around the gym and for good reason, it is a demanding workout that improves both our footwork and lung capacity, and it takes just minutes to feel the burn.
Step 4: Building And Improving Your Skill Set
Given that stretching is such a ‘flexible’ element that can easily be implemented into our schedule (bad pun I know!) and likewise for resistance band work, we should still find ourselves with a little extra spare time.
With our ‘tennis body’ taking shape the next consideration is enhancing our tennis skills. A and assuming that we cannot always do this with the luxury of a hitting partner and/or coach (because the focus here is creating a training schedule specific to our timetable), we need to optimize our routine by successfully training alone.
If the opportunity is available and you can access a hitting wall then hitting balls is obviously ideal. But for the time-strapped, any wall will do, even if space is at a premium. Volleying against a wall, even at close quarters, will help maintain your sense of feel and hand-eye coordination. And again, do not underestimate the compound interest associated with consistently repeating seemingly simple activities – over time, such things add up.
But what if you can’t find a suitable space for racket work?
If shadow-boxing works for proponents of the noble art, ‘shadow’ tennis can be beneficial for us too. By dedicating a little time to hit some ‘phantom’ shots (with or without a racket) you help maintain muscle memory, and if you can add some visualization to this process you are positively reinforcing your cognition too.
Additionally, there are a host of footwork drills that can be done anywhere and we would advocate carving out time to focus on a small number of very effective exercises (with or without a racket in hand) that can be added to our schedule with little or no fuss. And our fantastic ‘footwork’ guide takes you through all of the options.
Win with Your Feet - Learn Footwork Patterns the Pro's Use!
Step 5: The Mind And Body Connection
So far, with just a little discipline and commitment we are on the road to greatly enhancing our physical capabilities, without imposing too heavily on our schedule. Therefore, we should still have a window of opportunity so that time can be spent working on our minds – an often neglected component of an optimized tennis training schedule.
It’s no secret — sports psychology has become a hugely significant part of modern sports with countless tennis players working with mindset gurus.
But while we can’t all have a sports psychologist on speed dial, we can adapt and implement our own version of brain training.
The obvious solution is to find books on the subject and there are some excellent choices specifically focused upon tennis. But in terms of making sports psychology an integral part of a training schedule, we are fans of a relatively new app from ‘APeak’ which is dedicated to tennis training, offering brain-training exercises for every aspect of the game.
Additionally, we recommend meditation and as with APeak, there are some high-quality apps offering guided programs that walk you through this skill. And while some players may wonder how meditation can improve your tennis, we say it contributes to reduced stress and better sleep, building blocks that underpin healthy bodies and sharper minds – key ingredients of a strong tennis training schedule.
Step 6: The Power Of Sleep
We discussed the subject of sleep when talking about training times, but we cannot discuss an effective tennis training schedule without special attention being given to the importance of rest.
So many people see sleep as some kind of necessity that revolves around whatever they are watching that night and their commitments the next day. Incorrectly, however, very few people view sleep as a key component of their schedule, and maybe even fewer at amateur levels connect the quality of their sleep with the standard of their tennis.
The concept of sleep as an integral part of tennis training and optimizing performance has given rise to various books, apps, and technologies all designed to help athletes understand their bodies and the need for sleep. It has become an industry in itself and we are particular fans of Whoop and their band/app offering data to inform on how much sleep we need relative to the strain under which our bodies have been put.
But technology aside, if we are serious about our general well-being and performance on-court, we absolutely reframe sleep as a crucial part of our schedule.
Step 7: Optimized On-Court Training
So, you have followed our steps away from the court, but what about the time spent training where it matters most?
Of course, the most optimized of tennis training schedules will see us on-court, practicing hard but most importantly we need to train effectively. With tennis being such a multifaceted sport it is impossible to rehearse each and every shot in a single session, so we need to take a measured approach that focuses first on the biggest keys and your personal weaknesses.
The key aspects which underpin successful tennis are obviously serving and receiving – shots that can dictate the course of any match and merit time in any session. Then there is your Achilles heel, those shots that let you down – whatever these shots are, time and attention need to be given in order to iron out your biggest kinks.
And if you wish to truly master any shot, our standout courses are the perfect addition to your tennis training schedule. Whether you need to work on your forehand or maybe your volleying or nearly any other shot, check out our comprehensive range of course offering expert guidance.
Tennis Courses Designed for Players Just Like You
Step 8: Putting It All Together
We have covered all of the components that underpin an effective tennis training schedule. We are doing things to facilitate peak performances, injury prevention, a stronger and calmer mind, all wrapped up with an effective rest and recovery protocol. But how does each individual structure their time in the macro?
No two people are the same – each person’s commitments will vary while some people are early risers and others are night owls.
So there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to constructing an optimal tennis training schedule – but we can apply versatile guidelines that can help.
Our advice is to spend time assessing your average week to identify where you can find 20-30 minutes for around 3-4 times each week. We are confident that most people can do this and it is simply a question of how to spend this time., irrespective of where that falls in your day.
Ideally, a minimum of 10 minutes should be spent focused on stretching and tennis-specific exercises, especially core work. It is a great antidote to how many people can spend most of their time and is crucially important in preparing our bodies for the rigors of a match. Then, devote time rehearsing your desired shots – if possible, do this on-court or at least anywhere that allows enough freedom to mimic hitting shots. This helps to prime our body and help with staying loose and creating muscle memory.
Then, of course, it is essential to dedicate time to practicing actual tennis, honing the key fundamentals while attending to the weaker aspects of your game.
Check out our best tennis workout plans for on-court physical conditioning ideas.
Finally, we strongly advocate some form of quiet time, ideally just before your bedtime, where you can focus on reading, visualization, meditation, breathing techniques, and maybe even journaling.
Whatever your preferred method of brain training is, the last few minutes just before sleep can be used to ingrain positive affirmations.
Conclusion – Better Tennis Guaranteed
We have shown that with a little awareness and structure, we can create a tennis training schedule that does not overly impinge upon our families, career or makes us sleep-deprived.
Becoming a better and stronger player is a daily practice but easily doable, irrespective of your schedule.
Of course, if you are ‘time rich’ then take our blueprint and devote more time to training – just be mindful that too much of anything can be counterproductive. But, if you are like many of us, and constantly on the go, you now know that a little invention and above all consistency can make you an infinitely better player!
And our excellent courses are there to help you on your journey.
Take Your Game to the Next Level with Courses Designed Just for You!
Dec 9, 2021 • Fitness
10 Mental and Physical Benefits of Playing Tennis
We all know that physical exercise has a range of mental and physical benefits, but tennis is a particularly rewarding and beneficial sport to play thanks to the unique challenges it presents. Mastering the game of tennis takes a lot of mental and physical dedication, as it is a very…Read More
Dec 8, 2021 • Fitness
Tennis Injury Prevention – The Complete Guide
Unfortunately, however much we may love the game of tennis, there can always be too much of a good thing. When the load we put onto our bodies becomes too much, we may develop tennis related injuries that can sideline us for weeks or even months! But, if you are…Read More