Playing tennis carries more injury risk than many athletes recognize. Long matches require explosive bursts, direction changes, and rotations of the arms, legs and body that can pull a muscle. Gripping the racket can cause carpal tunnel, while repetitive swinging motions can cause lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow).
Instead of just using tennis as a way to get fit, it’s recommended that you get in shape before focusing on the finer points of your game. Whether you’re ready to get on the court or you’ve been playing tennis for years, it’s important to incorporate endurance training into your workout routine. In this way, you can reduce injury risk and get the most out of any tennis conditioning you do.
Start by doing about 30 minutes of cardio three times a week. This could include short sprints, jogging around the neighborhood, or participating in more organized races. If you can’t run a 5-10k, you might struggle to make it through a full tennis match. Once your endurance is up, shuttle runs and similar exercises help with speed and agility.
You should also incorporate stretching and strength-training exercises—such as a Flexbar/Twist Bar routine—into your exercise regimen to help prevent injury. While a twist bar workout isn’t designed to boot endurance, it can help prevent tennis elbow while strengthening muscles and increasing grip strength.