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The Role of Agility Training for Tennis Players

Aug 23, 2007
Agility is such an important component when it comes to an athlete being fast. Tennis requires the athlete to be fast over short distances, in multiple directions and have the ability to develop explosive starts from various positions.

Agility training is sports specific and it has to simulate the exact movements required by your sport. For athletes that require linear speed then agility training will have little benefit.

Agility refers to the ability of an athlete to speed up, slow down and change direction while maintaining balance and control. Athletes in sports such as soccer, football, netball, basketball, lacrosse and tennis are just a few sports where athletes need to be agile.

Trainers who believe that one drill fits all do not understand the true meaning of sports specificity! Greater improvements will be found when training for your sport.

Characteristics of Being Agile for Tennis Players:
Changing direction quickly
Possessing good flexibility
Ability to react quickly to various situations
Twisting
Turning
Ability to stop suddenly
Side-stepping
Back peddling
Multi-tasking
Combining multiple fitness components (speed, agility, power)
Ability to perform a skill while maintaining balance (hitting a forehand on the run)

Being agile is also position specific. For example in soccer a midfielder will be required to possess all the above characteristics. A goal keeper will also require additional abilities such as diving, rolling, get-ups after being on the ground, jumping from a variety of positions and performing different skill tasks while under a considerable amount of pressure.

In tennis, you will also want to differentiate between the movements of a serve and volley player to that of a baseliner.

A serve and volley player requires an explosive take off immediately after completing the serve. A split step is then performed near the service line prior to the player moving left, right or forwards to hit a volley. The agility aspect comes into play when the athlete must be able to quickly respond to a return hit any where on their side of the court.

Baseline players tend to focus a little more on their lateral movements of going from the forehand side to the backhand side. This lateral movement requires the athlete to accelerate to a ball, stop, pivot, mogul and then recover back to position. At any time they may need to push off and sprint forwards for a short ball.

Key Components that Will Assist the Athlete to be More Agile:
Increasing flexibility
Increasing your strength
Increase your power
Improving explosive starts
Improved reaction speed
Performing a variety of sports specific drills
Improved core strength
Free from injuries
Appropriate footwork to assist in performing the required skill
Using the correct technique
Wearing appropriate clothing and footwear
Training on the surface that you play on
Develop all areas of agility

Agility Drills for Tennis Should Include these Movements:
Sprinting forwards
Side-stepping
Back peddling
Bounding combinations with speed and agility
Footwork
Sudden changes in direction
Explosive starts
Recovery steps

5 Great Agility Drills for Tennis Players:
Agility box run
3 line agility test
Wave run agility test
"T" agility test
Bow tie agility drill

As a tennis coach or player you will need to conduct a needs analysis of your movement which is best done by watching a video of yourself playing. This will allow you to see exactly how you move, your strengths and weaknesses, rate your reaction time, strength and power in acceleration and ability to recover from a stationary position. Then put together a plan of action to improve your on court speed and agility.
About the Author
David Horne is a former professional tennis player who has created several online sports web sites including www.globalsportszone.com which is the Ultimate Sports Directory for all sports fans! Everything in Sports at Global Sports Zone
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