How to Train a Tennis Player?

Nathan and Giselle operate their world-renowned Tennis Fitness brand and have trained five world number one players over the life of the business.

Through the journey of creating Tennis Fitness, they both developed a passion for the sport after learning the ins and outs of the game. “Being a tennis trainer, I think tennis is the pinnacle of sport because it is so complex in many ways,” Giselle explained.

Nathan and Giselle have built a breadth of experience working with athletes such as Lleyton Hewitt, Sam Stosur, Martin Navratilova, Jennifer Capriati, Svetlana Kuznetsova, and Monica Seles. The lessons learned have inspired them to create their own ‘Martin Method’ brand to achieve success with players of all levels.

According to Nathan, the success they have experienced has come from a unique focus on the mental resilience involved with high-level training. “As much as we use the physical aspect, you also start to realize how important training is to build up resilience and fortify an athlete’s mindset. It’s about constantly encouraging them to remember what training they’ve done and motivated them throughout,” he said.

“Whenever we do any programming or set training, we always ask ourselves, ‘Why are we doing this?’” said Nathan. “If you can’t answer that, you don’t know why you’re doing anything, and if you don’t know why you’re doing it, you don’t know what the result is going to be.” 

“Having worked with a lot of high-level athletes and learning what they do and how they do those things, we feel like we can give people a look into what’s going on,” said Giselle. ‘We’re really excited to educate and encourage more tennis players and coaches to get out there to try to work harder and do the right things. Second, we want to produce some really great tennis players.”

Tennis Fitness certainly knows a thing or two about producing great athletes, which begins with their tennis training program approach. “With athletes, you need to give them encouragement and support. I always tell them the reason behind why I’m giving them an exercise and give them more encouragement to get it done as well,” said Giselle. 

“As Tennis Strength and Conditioning Trainers, we need to build up more trust with players. You need to let them know that you’ve got their best interest at heart and that you’re structuring this tennis fitness workout for them. It’s not about you, it’s for them. Reassure them we’re all on the same page and we’re all going in the same direction,” Nathan explained.

In terms of the specific tennis exercises that should be performed both on and off the court, Nathan emphasizes the importance of strengthening the posterior chain for tennis players. “Targeting the posterior chain is really important from a strength perspective. From there, we can develop that strength into power and more dynamic training and explosive movement,” he said.

“On the court, we focus on their first step – giving them drills and encouraging them to really focus on that one, two pop steps on the court,” said Nathan. “Working on deceleration is also important. We want to make sure they can do that effectively because that’s where we burn a lot of energy.

In the game of tennis, you have to do that up to 10 times a point. It’s not just about speeding up; it’s about slowing down. We burn more fuel and our body is more susceptible to injury at that phase.”

When it comes to tennis strength and conditioning training, Giselle believes the most common mistake made by tennis players is performing movements beyond their experience level, which can lead to unnecessary injury down the road.

“What we really need to encourage people to do is build a base,” Giselle urged. “First, they need to technically be able to perform a movement. We need to strengthen that tennis movement and then we can start making that movement more progressive and dynamic.”

“Once you’ve got the base built, it’s very easy to build on top. It’s like building a house. If you get the foundation right, the rest of the house will go up easy. If the foundation is not right, somewhere along the track, you’re going to have problems with the house,” she said.

If there is one take away from this article, always get professional advice from a tennis strength and conditioner, tennis coach or a health professional before it is too late. If you don't have anyone in your area, please contact us (below) and we will try and help find someone for you.

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