Being successful at a sport takes much more than talent – you have to condition your body to be prepared for tough training sessions and competitions. This is why many runners use Pilates to improve their skills and prevent injury. Pilates is ideal for high impact sports, which is why it is also a good form of exercise for tennis players.
Why is Pilates Good for Tennis Players?
Tennis is a high impact sport that requires quick changes of direction and for the body to be constantly in motion. Fitness expert Jess Schuring listed three ways Pilates can help tennis players. It loosens typically tight muscles, like those in your chest, neck, and upper back. It increases range of motion, and strengthens your core, including the transverse abdominus and obliques. This helps your body become stronger, more flexible, more mobile, and better suited to perform rotational movements. Lastly, Pilates decreases the risk of injury, as it increases flexibility and helps stretch the muscles out. Pilates also works on every part of the body, preventing one muscle group from becoming dominant, to the detriment of other muscle groups.
Tennis Greats Doing Pilates
The above reasons are why Pilates is a popular cross-training method amongst professional tennis players. Serena Williams does Pilates to improve her core strength in order to provide balance to her body. This is because like all tennis players, she uses one side more than the other. She has also been quoted as saying that she used the method to get lean. The tennis star told Vogue in 2010 that she preferred it to running.
In the men’s game, Andy Murray has used Pilates to help him recover from several serious injuries. In 2016, he was recovering from back surgery, and used Pilates to help him improve his flexibility and motion. The rehabilitation process worked and he recovered to have arguably the best period of his career. During 2016, he won Wimbledon and reached the final of two other Grand Slams to remain one of the highest paid players on the ATP circuit and one of the most successful stars of the Open Era. Now, Murray is embarking on yet another comeback from injury, this time after successive hip surgeries in 2018 and 2019. The former world number 1 looked primed for a comeback last year, even easing in to his regular Pilates and Versa Climber sessions. Murray's return, however, hit a snag, and he needed a second hip surgery to relieve years of pain. But the Scot is making one final push and recently played at both Queens and Wimbledon. Expect Pilates to continue to form a key part of his training as he continues to extend his career.
Pilates Exercises for Tennis Players
Pilates exercises for runners are just as useful for tennis players.
Long Spine Massage, for example, improves hip extension by strengthening the glutes and abdominal muscles, and improving hip dissociation.
Standing Arm Series Facing Out on the Trapeze Table and Kneeling Arm Series on the Reformer help with rotational movements, which are necessary when hitting those backhands and forehands with force.
Supine Stretch, on the other hand, develops eccentric core strength, which is crucial for the reach and force of your serve.
Here are three other Pilates exercises for tennis players:
- Bridging. This exercise helps stabilize the knees. It also helps create power when moving and lunging laterally.
- Mermaid. This exercise improves spine rotation and shoulder mobility which helps support the swing motion of the arm.
- Book Opening. This one also improves spine rotation and shoulder mobility, which helps the upper body remain flexible and injury-free.
Article exclusively written for pilatesencyclopedia.com
By Sara Rachel
To see even more exercises for tennis players and detailed recommendations, check out the Pilates Protocols chapter of the Pilates Encyclopedia membership. You'll even get videos and detailed instructions of each exercise!
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