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Strength & Conditioning: Plyometric Exercises for Tennis

Plyometric exercises are one of the more common ways of training to develop explosive power in sport.  However, there are many coaches who do not know where to begin when trying to incorporate plyometrics into a training plan. 

Most of the research regarding plyometrics recommends that athletes be able to squat 1.5 to 2.0 times their body weight before starting lower body plyometric training, and be able to bench press 1x their body weight before starting upper body training. 

However, these recommendations are made as a guide for performing intense plyometric training and high-level exercises.  Many strength coaches now believe that plyometrics can be performed by most players, regardless of their strength levels, as long as the intensity of the exercises matches the experience and strength of the player. 

Take Home Point for Tennis Coaches: If your athletes have a low level of strength, then it is appropriate to use low intensity plyometric training.  High intensity plyometrics should be reserved for players with high levels of strength.

Combining plyometrics with agility training can be especially beneficial to tennis players.  This mode of training not only takes advantage of the speed-strength training promoted by plyometrics, but also combines these exercises with movements that a tennis player performs on the court.   Alternating training themes, such as training lateral movement one day and forward/ backward movement on another, is a great way to split up the training regimen. 

Take Home Point for Tennis Coaches:  Plyometrics is only one tool in the toolbox we can use when training our athletes.  While focusing solely on plyometrics will have some value for tennis players, combining plyometrics with movement and agility work will ensure that we are addressing all aspects of the explosive strength that a tennis player needs. 

Please reference the NSCA Journal of Strength and Conditioning 25(6):53-54 or contact USTA Sport Science (sportscience@usta.com), for more information on plyometric exercises that are appropriate for your tennis players.

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