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When Should Young Players Start Tennis Strength Training?

Mar 01, 2021
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Tennis is one of the most played sports by young people globally. So it is important to have the right information getting shared around. Over the past 20 years, a very common question we have been asked as tennis strength and conditioners is, "When can my child, start tennis strength training, and what strength training should they do?"

To build a physically resilient, powerful, and great mover, you need to have a sound strength base, no matter the age, it should be the focus. Strength training should never stop no matter our age, it is the one constant training element that needs to be evolving. Players are never too young to start also! 

Today I want to share some knowledge on what we have found to be the best ways to get young players to develop their strength, in a safe and effective way. This is a big topic that requires lots of information, so what I have done is incorporate some links to help you navigate your way through this process and also give you some options on getting the right program started.


When Should Young Players Start Tennis Strength Training?

A concern for us has always been people training young tennis players as they would train an adult. This can lead to injury and generally discourages young players as they get overwhelmed technically and can get pushed too hard physically. 

Tennis training for kids should be different than for adults. The focus for young athletes should be on building the foundation; sound technique development, healthy mobility ranges of joints, muscular strength gains, and body awareness. Once we have these things in place we can start to load a young athlete. 

If we have not developed the foundation well enough and start getting young players doing too much too soon, it can be dangerous and often leads to tennis injuries. Players under the age of 16 should steer away from weights and heavy loading unless they are ready. Even players 16 years and above need to be cautious with their strength training, some players are physically under-developed and with no training experience they can be setting themselves up for injury. 

At ‘Martin method Tennis Fitness' we recommend all young players aged 16 and under start out by performing these 6 fundamental movement patterns - Lunge, Squat, Bend, Pull, Push, and Rotation. When young players can consistently complete all the 6 movement patterns, with good form, only then should their tennis programs progress.

We initially get young players holding certain positions (6 fundamental patterns, plus others) for set periods of time, we call this isometric training and it is a great way to get players in the right position so they can build better awareness of where they need to be whilst doing an exercise.

Isometric training is also really effective at fatiguing muscle whilst in a technically sound position. These 2 areas are important to focus on when training young players, if we can get them in the right positions and they understand what those positions are, then we challenge the muscles strength capacity, then this helps us achieve what we are striving for; sound technique development, muscular strength gains, and body awareness. 

We always encourage tennis kids to follow a full-body tennis mobility program prior to doing their strength program. This opens up joint range throughout the body, we focus on the major mobility joints (ankles, hips, thoracic spine, shoulders). Once this is achieved we can then get players into better positions that can then be challenged and strengthened more effectively. It is how we complete the process of developing a mobile and strong young tennis player. 

If you are looking for the right guidance and tennis fitness programs, that are age-specific and tennis-based, you need to review our junior tennis programs
Junior tennis strength exercises need to be performed on a regular basis in order to build the right platform. The exercises need to be age-appropriate, specific for tennis, and have a progression pathway.  We offer this in our junior programs, we have created these programs because we know how important it is to get right! 

Tennis Fitness developed a Strength Training Development Program that has 3 levels. Start at level 1 using bodyweight exercises, then level 2 you will be using resistance bands, whilst progressing to level 3 using weight equipment.

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We are here to help, so please get in touch with any other questions or for further guidance in this area.