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Strength & Conditioning: Exercise Techniques

Core Strengthening

The core of the body has received a great deal of attention in the past few years; more and more, strength coaches are linking core strength with athletics performance.  But what is the core and why is it important? 

Essentially, the core is the "center of the body" and the core musculature is made up of the muscles that surround the body's center of mass.  These include the abdominal muscles, lower back muscles, and many of the muscles that control the hips and pelvis.

The exercises presented in this section are designed to strengthen all aspects of the core.  Keep in mind that it is important to strengthen all components of the core.  The strength imbalances that can result from doing all abdominal exercises and none for the lower back, or vice versa, can lead to injuries and lost playing time. 

Exercise: Medicine Ball & Diagonal Pull-Overs
Exercise: Quadruped Alternate Limb Extension

Rotator Cuff and Shoulder Blade Stabilization

In this article we want to focus on the shoulder and muscles that stabilize that joint.  When you talk about tennis and the shoulder the first thing that likely comes to mind is the rotator cuff.  The rotator cuff is important in tennis, but often times strength imbalances exist within the rotator cuff that can lead to injury.  Most notably, tennis players tend to be weak in the muscles that externally rotate the shoulder.  External rotation is an outward rotation and is the opposite of the shoulder motion players make when they serve or hit a forehand.   To improve strength of the external rotators you can perform the exercises described in this section of the web page.  This exercise should be performed with the dominant arm, but should really be performed with both arms if time permits.

Not many people think of the upper back when considering how to strengthen and protect the shoulder.  But try this simple drill.  Place your hand on the shoulder blades of a player and ask him to raise his arms.  Can you feel the shoulder blades move?  Shoulder movement is very complex and involves movement of the shoulder blade as well as the actual shoulder joint itself.  Weakness in the upper back muscles that stabilize the shoulder blades can cause the shoulder to function improperly and may actually contribute to shoulder pain.  Exercises that train the stabilizers of the shoulder blade can help tennis players optimize performance and avoid shoulder injury. 

Exercise: Standing External Rotation with Elastic Band
Exercise: Straight Arm Rowing

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