One of the sports in which it is easier to understand the importance of functional training in the athletic preparation is undoubtedly tennis.
A tennis player, from the common enthusiast to the professional athlete, usually devote the larger part of the training sessions to improve the specific technical gestures of this sport. Shot power and precision, fast changes of direction, stabilizations and decelerations are the main characteristics and it is absolutely correct to focus on them in order to improve technically.
Nevertheless, just as much as in any other sports discipline, during tennis preparation it is important to take in consideration also three other essential aspects:
- Performing technical movements in stressful and exhausting conditions, due to the match
- Performing movements at a high speed, which implies that any distraction could be very dangerous
- Preventing injuries, both involving joints and muscles
Even if these aspects are directly linked with the specific movements performed on the court, they must be trained during the athletic preparation, with a general work that gradually becomes more and more specific through three main elements:
- Joint mobility (in particular the hips and the shoulder girdle)
- Coordinative abilities (general, specific and particular)
- Conditional abilities (strength, speed, power and endurance)
Now, let’s see how these features are linked with functional training and why they can be considered a real godsend for tennis players of every level, if trained respecting its principles and practical applications.
Why functional training is perfect for tennis preparation?
Functional training differs from any other training method for one main reason: it aims to train the human body movements and everything linked to this in terms of health, prevention and efficiency.
Training movements means training the globality and multi-directionality in order to involve the entire body in every single motor scheme performed. From standing still to running, from a change of direction to hitting the ball with the tennis racket, every single movement involves the entire body. This happens under the constant control of the Central Nervous System that, through the neuro-muscular system (which makes part of the peripheral nervous system), directs and controls all the operations in order to safely guarantee the success.
This is possible thanks to the creation of the essential conditions to express body movements in the space:
- Freeing the joints through which the movements are going to be performed (joint mobility)
- Stabilizing the involved joints (proprioception, joint and core stabilization)
- Creating the right conditions for coordination and globality of movements (controlling the kinetic chains and developing the inter-muscular coordination)
- Increasing the level of neuro-muscular strength of the athlete, in order to be more clear-minded while performing technical gestures involving reactivity, speed, power and endurance.
How to train to prevent injuries and to improve the performance?
If you consider that the technical training sessions for Tennis are usually from 3 to 5 a week, the sessions devoted to athletic preparation and physical conditioning should not be more than two, in order to avoid an overtraining condition. Having a limited time for athletic preparation, it is important to find a solution that allows to constantly train all of these aspects in every single exercise.
In this sense, functional training can be considered the perfect solution for tennis preparation, if performed in respect of the scientific principles of multi-planar global movement (physiology, biomechanics, movement plans, activation and control of functional groups, kinetic chains and core, the center of gravity of the body).
VIDEO: tennis preparation with Kettlebells and Si-Clubs
In the following video, we have a combination of functional training exercises (to be performed in the main part of the training session, after some warm-up and joint mobility exercise) that are absolutely suitable for tennis preparation, in order to condition at the same time all the physical aspects needed in this sport.
The tools involved in this routine are Kettlebells and Si-Clubs, which are some of the most suitable equipment for this kind of preparation. Indeed, they allow to always actively involve the two main fulcra of movement of the body (the hips and the shoulder girdle) in all three plans of movement: sagittal, frontal and, most of all, transverse, which is the most involved plan in the specific technical motor skills of every sport, including tennis.
In this video we have seen advanced level exercises, but one of the characteristics of these training tools, and of all the others involved in functional training (including Flying, Flow Bag, Total-Core Pin, elastics, Gym Ropes, etc.), is their extraordinary versatility and adaptability to every training level and specific need.
My advice is always to rely on a certified trainer who, starting from an initial evaluation of the individual physical conditions, could be able to choose the right exercises and training programs for the specific athletic preparation and individual needs, so as to allow to progressively improve in the technical performance and to increase the physical capabilities, without incurring in unnecessary injuries or in an overtraining condition.
by Emilio Troiano
WTA International Functional Training Academy Master Trainer
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WTA Functional Training Academy trains instructors on the use of the clubs since 2009 and, starting from April 2019, besides the classic training courses on site, it offers also the possibility to participate to the new Online training courses, with many technical/practical contents (more than 180 video lessons, ebooks and training schedules) that will allow you to specialize on Functional Training for Sports Athletic Preparation, in order to boost the performance and to prevent injuries deriving from either direct trauma or stress/overload.
Click the following banner to get all the information about the Athletic Functional Training Instructor Course.
In addition you can also download for free the new app for Functional Training Workout that allows to create training programs either for various sports athletic preparation, for post-injury recovery and for generic physical goals.
Click the following banner and discover all the functionalities of this innovative app: