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Tips to Improve Tennis Training Intensity

May 06, 2019
image of tennis training

 Tips to Improve Tennis Training Intensity – Are you getting this right?

This blog is for the serious player or coach that wants to produce high-level players. 

The intensity that an athlete trains at dictates the level they will condition their bodies to play at. Simply put, if you train at a 6 out of 10, how can you expect your body to perform at an 8, 9, or 10 out of 10.

This simple principle is one of our key “Court Movement Principles”. In all reality, it does not matter what drill or tennis exercise you do, if you do not have the capacity to train at high intensity your improvements and results will be limited.

How can I get my player to improve their intensity?
This is the most common question we get asked each week.

Having seen many top athletes train, practice, and play. One thing stands out. When they are tennistraining off court, they push harder than they would on court, in a match.
Lleyton Hewitt, Sam Stosur, and Martina Navratilova come to mind when I think of training intensity. These three players we trained knew when to bring it, they always had that level of intensity that was needed.

Training at high intensities is how players allow their bodies to work equal to and above the thresholds they face during competition. Through rest and recovery, their bodies adapt and improve, allowing them to push more and more as they develop.

Without the “Adaptation” process being engaged there will be minimal and often no physical gains. Training for tennis away from competition should always be about training for competition, not just training, this is critical.

Setting your physical capacity higher than that of what you need, should be every serious athlete’s goal. Prepare the body.

Unfortunately, I see more and more young players training way under their training capacity, it makes me so upset. One thing I pride myself on is getting players to train as hard as they can. There are numerous ways to do this, treating players as individuals are key in finding ways to build awareness, intensity, and motivation.

Very few players have the capacity to realize their true training intensity capacity on their own, so it is up to coaches and tennis conditioning trainers to help them.

I encourage you to set physical benchmarks for your players, a simple one way of doing this is using the “Perceived Rate of Exertion Scale” e.g. Scale out of 1-10, 1 being the easiest and 10 being the hardest.

Asking the questions –
How hard do you feel you pushed yourself today?
Do you feel you can work closer to an 8?
Can you show me what an 8 looks like for you?


Most players have an unrealistic perception of this scale. Initially, they will tell you, I feel like a 7 or 8, when you know they are a 4-5 (and that’s ok, it’s all about the education).

It is a matter of getting them to experience what an 8 or 9 is (hopefully you or someone else has the capacity to do that for them). Then they will have a new reality. This then becomes their new benchmark and what they need to aim for. 

If they cannot train at a 7-8 regularly (3 times a week), they won’t get far in the game and that is ok, they can still love the game and play great tennis and enjoy it, but the professional level or college pathway will not happen, it is the reality of it.


Ways to Improve Tennistraining Intensity 

  1. Have them compete against the stopwatch. Give them something to chase, a target.

  2. Have them compete against other tennis players when performing tennis strength and conditioning drills.

  3. Video them, have them watch their performance back, and ask them what they think. Then explain what you feel they could be doing better.

  4. Explain the reason, benefit, and purpose of the exercise. e.g. This exercise you’re doing will help with you’re A, B or C, etc

  5. Remind them of their goals, so it’s always in the back of their head when training for tennis.

  6. Use the RPE Scale 1- 10. Have a player get familiar with what an 8 or 9 feels like and then have them decide for themselves what their scale they are working at.

 Try some of these out and let us know how you go!