What do Andy Murray, Roger Federer, Serena and Venus Williams and Martina Navratilova have in common aside from the fact they are tennis champions? They practice Pilates! All of them incorporate Pilates into their training programme.
Andy Murray states that Pilates is a vital part of his fitness and injury-prevention regime. Martina Navratilova although now retired says that Pilates has helped her body regain the flexibility of her prime. Serena Williams has stated that she believes it’s Pilates that’s given her a leaner less bulky body.
A good tennis player needs to be flexible and agile and possess a strong core to enable you to make those sudden directional changes. You also need stamina, power and range of motion. All of these qualities will help you move more effectively around the court and tire less quickly reducing the risk of forcing other muscles to overcompensate.
The nature of the game means that you repeatedly use one side causing muscular imbalances which in turn can lead to injuries of the shoulders, back, knees and elbows.
While even the best Pilates instructor may not help you serve like Serena Williams or Roger Federer, a programme of specific exercises will work the body more uniformly to prevent over development of one side. It will also strengthen the deep abdominal muscles (tranverse abdominus) needed for a stable base from which to hit that winning shot. Addressing flexibility through the shoulders and upper back while lengthening the tighter front muscles of the torso will boost your power and range of motion – and make it easier to reach for that drop shot at the net.
So the Benefits of Pilates for Tennis are:-
- Improves the power of your strokes by developing a strong core
- Improves your balance and control for quick reaction and sudden directional change
- Rebalances muscles to help prevent injuries
- Strengthens shoulders and arms to improve the speed of your stroke
- Improves flexibility and stability to control shots
- Reduces back injuries by increasing flexibility
- Increases upper and lower body strength and endurance
With its focus on core strength, flexibility, stability and balance, Pilates is a great tool for tennis performance. So why not give it a go?