Tennis Fitness for Kids

Over the past year, we have seen kids as young as 12 years with tears in rotator cuffs, tendonitis in the elbow, wrist and achilles and frightening stress fractures in the shoulders and lower back. We are seeing more and more young athletes present with limited flexibility, stability and strength.

In a nutshell what parents, coaches and players need to know is;

“There is no short term fix….. there is no quick fix pill, if you are not willing to do the correct things, and set up a tennis fitness development plan at the beginning you are setting young athletes up for disaster.

I know this might be harsh but it’s fair to say this, as we have been working with tennis players for over 20 years (on tour and in academies) We saw it first hand, working in Spain, with kids that did the correct things Svetlana Kuznetsova and Juan Monaco to name a few. Both at a young age did the correct things to prevent injuries. Now look at them, reaching the upper limits of the game. 

Now, we don’t want to point the finger at any one thing or anyone. Finding a correct tennis junior fitness plan isn’t easy. There is a lot of stuff out there on the net. Finding a trainer but a specific tennis trainer for kids that is experienced, is honestly none existent.

Education (Learning what to do) and attitude (being consistent and diligent) are really the 2 areas you need to focus on when it comes to getting injury prevention right.

So that is why we are here to EDUCATE YOU! Then it is up to you to apply it!

Tennis Fitness Development Plan

Before we design a tennis fitness development plan we need to address the below issues:

1. Hyper Mobility/Flexibility

Being hyper mobile or hyper flexible with not enough stability or strength around joints is a problem. It is important to strengthen the smaller stabilizing muscles that support joints. People get stuck on working the larger muscle groups without stabilizing the joint. This leads to “Joint instability”.

2. Reduced Mobility

Having a lack of mobility around joints leads to joint dysfunction and restricted joint movement, this is a common issue you find with injuries like tendonitis. It is surprising to see so many young tennis players, with little or no mobility. We have some players as young at 10 years’ old that can’t touch their toes.

3. Foundational Strength

Stop jumping the gun. You cannot build a house on crappy foundations! Having an adequate strength base is crucial for power development, injury prevention and recovery. There are too many players on court who are not strong enough to cope with the demands. This is the main reason we see players get injured and stop playing! Strength training for junior tennis players can start as young as 8 years old.

4.Copy Cats

Watching the new WOW exercise on the net and doing it without knowing WHY and HOW can cause some serious harm. When performing a junior tennis exercise program, one need to know the right amount of repetitions, sets and loads, as this is just as important as doing the exercise. Getting the combination right is the key!

5. Incorrect lifting technique

Not learning the correct technique at a young age is damaging for athletes. This can cause problems for the future. If you have incorrect form and technique from a young age, it can be very hard to retrain the body to get it right.

6. Lifting to heavy too soon

Young athletes should never lift load (weights, dumbbells etc.) like adults. This can cause long term issues. Even if you think a young athlete can handle it at the time, there is a good chance excessive load will cause long term complications. What happens with excessive loading is, the athlete’s technique diminishes and they are compromised. Not long ago we had a junior player come to us with some major injuries. He had been attending a cross fit gym for the past 2 years and now looking at getting a hip operation. There is nothing wrong with cross fit it does have its place, but not in developing junior tennis players. Seek out a tennis trainer for kids, that can design a safe tennis fitness program for kids.

7. Tennis Specificity

It is important to follow training systems that are related to the sport the athlete plays. A junior tennis exercise program should involve a lot of loading (absorbing force) Change of direction and rotation, just to name a few things. Athletes need to be able to allow their bodies to adapt to the demands by doing specific exercises to improve and protect their bodies.

8. Coaches Call

Having tennis coaches with no strength and conditioning experience taking their players in the gym getting them to lift weights with the wrong loads and poor form. Everyone needs to know their place in the team, whether that be a parent, coach or friend. Do not put young athletes at risk if you are not qualified and experienced. Source out a junior tennis training program from a qualified tennis trainer for kids

Program Design - Tennis Fitness For Kids

Here are the solutions:

1. Assessing

Having a Functional Movement Assessment (FMS) by a professional in order to determine areas of weakness (Mobility/Stability) Then you can get a plan moving forward.

2. Improving Mobility/Flexibility

If your player has limited flexibility/mobility, there is no doubt, compensation will occur within the body.

You need to have good mechanics and range of motion in all joints. Some players can compensate for a month or year, but eventually the body will weaken and breakdown.

Getting a thorough mobility/ flexibility and stability plan for a young athlete should always be the first step.

3. Correct Technique and Form

Before attempting to lift load, athletes need to be able to perform the 6 primal movement patterns – Squat, Lunge, Bend, Pull, Push and Rotate.

These fundamental movement patterns are crucial to get right at a young age.

4. Improve stability

If you want longevity for a young athlete (which should be our goal) you need to protect and strengthen those smaller muscles around their joints.

Work inner (smaller) muscles first and then progress to strengthen the outside (larger) muscles.

5. Improve Strength

Progression is the key. Start with basic stability and strength exercises specific for tennis and not to mention for their age and then progress them.

E.g. Static Lunge into Walking Lunge into a Multi- step lunge.

Then once accomplished add load.

6. Tennis Fitness for Kids Program

Source out a tennis trainer for kids in your area and get the right advice or go online: MembersTennisFitness.com and start implementing our specific tennis fitness program for kids and be consistent with it.

PHYSICAL ABILITY WILL OVERRIDE SKILL over time and the less talented kids with better physical preparation and foundational capabilities will get better by spending more quality time on court.

For help get in touch with us….. This is what we do… Its our passion!

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