About Us

CAtennis is a passionate discussion for serious tennis players, parents and coaches looking for something different. No talk about technique, no talk about useless theory, no gimmicks; just practical advice from first-hand experience on how to improve your tennis. Kick back, drink the content, bounce ideas, and pitch articles (or friend us on Facebook).

Unless otherwise noted, all articles are authored by the founders of CAtennis.  Enjoy!


Entries in Fitness (4)


Challenge Yourself

There are key points in a tough match where you have to dig deep and find the motivation that you need in order to push through the barriers of pain and the obstacles posed by your opponent. You can find yourself at 5-5 in the third set on a brutal, hot and humid summer day. How do you deal with these situations?! The reality is that as you progress in the game, you will face greater obstacles and more momentous occasions. 

To overcome these situations it helps if, in addition to your standard training and workouts, you include some sort of physical challenge into your routine. Be it running up hills (like Andre Agassi or Jerry Rice), sprinting up sand dunes (like Marv Dunphy's Pepperdine volleyball team), running miles through the desert or in the snow, jumping rope for 2 hours straight, biking a century, participating in a survival race or something equally taxing, having an "extra-curricular" training method that is extra tough will assist you on the tennis court. Some of these methods can also improve your overall fitness, so that's a bonus. 


More importantly, however, they make the voice inside your head telling you to keep going louder and more convincing ("you CAN do it", "come on PUSH it"). When you're on the court, you're out there by yourself. You can have 1000 fans supporting you or 1000 fans rooting against you (and if you make the NCAAs you will experience both). But only one voice matters and that's the voice that's inside your head; your INNER COACH. It can tell you to give up ("it's OK to quit; losing's fine") or to keep going ("no pain, Rocky! No Pain!"). If you include a difficult training method into your routine - even if it's once every 2-3 weeks - you can recall the positive voice inside you. You say to yourself "hey, if I did THAT I sure as heck can do THIS." Or, "I'll be darned if I'm going to let this son-of-a-gun run away with this match. He didn't run up those hills in the middle of summer...all by himself! I DID! There's no way he's beating me". 


Elements of Proper Physical Exercise

These days, not enough emphasis is put on physical fitness when it comes to tennis. It seems that parents are content to paying for private lessons but when the lesson's over, players bag it in (or do some half-hearted effort to perform a couple minutes of fitness drills). The difficult part about tennis is that it's an endeavor that requires skill AND physical fitness. You simply cannot rely on skill alone to get you to the next level. Offense and Defense require either explosiveness, power, endurance, balance and range of motion. As a result, it is imperative that you, as a player, develop a passion for cross-training. Everybody likes to lift trophies but it's usually only those who are willing to get dirty, bloody and sweaty who have the fortune to do so on the biggest stages. 

Just like technique, you have to analyze yourself and pin-point your weakness areas. Furthermore, you have to have a good understanding of yourself as a player. For example, are you faster moving to the forehand than the backhand? Are you faster moving forward than backwards? Do you have strong shoulders? Do low balls give you problems? Do you lose long matches because you run out of steam? How do you see yourself as a player? Are you more aggressive? Defensive? Passive? Etc. In other words, you have to develop a game plan for strengthening your problem areas as well as improving the areas that are already above-average.

I see a lot of players who want to improve their physical fitness but do so in a way that is less than optimal. Take for example a player who can be described as a counter-puncher. This player can spend hours in a gym working on his "guns" with little or no running or agility exercises. He simply loves to lift weights. Great! I tend to think that some fitness is better that none at all. However, how does a fitness routine that is focused on weights help a counter-puncher cover the court?! Being stronger WILL help this player; that's a given. But no matter how strong the rabbit, it will not outrun the wolf. Similarly, you can have a serve-and-volleyer who spends hours pounding the treadmill or spinning the bike but who does no sprints or weight-lifting. He does it because he likes it and doesn't have to think about what he's doing (i.e., "no brain no headache"). Again, as long as the player breaks a sweat it's better than lying on the couch. However, how do these routines match-up with the player's on-court needs?! 

My recommendation would be to have a fitness routine that is tailored to the person. Obviously, everybody needs to be well-rounded. However, it's important to focus on the fitness components that are utilized in the player's weapons as well on those that cover weaknesses. A proper fitness routine will include weights (for power, explosiveness AND maintenance), cardio (for endurance), sprints (speed) and plyometrics (for agility). With respect to the latter, the jump rope is really the best exercise and not enough players are doing it (or are even capable of doing it). How do you expect to keep your feet moving for 3 sets if you can't do it for 3 minutes?  The reality is that when players get exhausted, they tend to fall back on their heels (become flat-footed) making it that much more difficult to cover the court.

And covering the court is the point of tennis. THE NATURAL STATE OF A TENNIS PLAYER IS TO BE IN MOTION! Your racket's strike zone is only about 24 square inches (that's the 4-6 center strings). The rest of the racket is, basically, useless in terms of actually striking the ball. With 24sq inches, you're supposed to strike a ball with a diameter of 2.63 inches moving at 100mph. Oh, did I forget to mention that you have to cover an area (your court) of approximately 21,060 CUBIC feet of space. You're literally trying to hit a fast moving object with a broom-stick and you have to do so while covering an enormous area. If you're just a tad slow, you will either not get there or will get there but you will reacting to the opponent's shot rather than dictating where you want the ball to go. 

So supplement your tennis practices with at least one hour of fitness per day. Try to cover all the components (strength, endurance, speed, agility) if you can and you will see a dramatic improvement in your game.


Practicing For Mental Toughness

Mental toughness and physical toughness go hand-in-hand. One simply cannot be mentally tough without first developing his physical characteristics. All the best players out there have a "gotta want it" attitude. Whoever "WANTS IT" the most, usually wins. This person never gives up in the face of adversity. 

There is no easy and straightforward way to develop mental toughness although one drill that has worked for me (along with other players) is to place a physical exercise component prior to playing 2-3 sets. For example, players can do a timed 2-3 or 5 mile run (depending on level of fitness and age) PRIOR to playing a 2-3 set match. The player who wants it the most will usually win. With two players of equal will-power, both players will improve dramatically since they are forced to dig deep and develop a "never say die" attitude. If a long running course is not available, player can run on-court sprints for 30 minutes (or jump rope) and then play.

The key to this type practice is for the player to figure out ways for winning points most efficiently and to focus and fight for every point. Physical fitness begets mental toughness. This is also a useful drill given that tournaments often have back-to-back matches with 30 minute break in between. You can pull through a tough 3 set match against a seed in the first round and than have to grind out a match against a lesser player in the afternoon. A player needs to be tough enough to believe that he has done everything possible in order to defeat both opponents back-to-back.  

Other practices can involve playing sets without "proper" warm-ups. That is, the players just show up and start playing points. Often times, particularly at junior events, the players will not have a proper warm-up anyway due to lack of hitting partners or tennis courts (or traffic that precludes the player from showing up on time). So it's important for the player's to be ready from the word "GO".

In addition, players can play sets but switch rackets with their practice partner. Often times, the player will break all of his/her strings during the match and be forced to finish with a replacement racket. Similarly, vary the location of the practices - sometimes at the country club, other times at the local park, maybe someone's back-yard, indoors, clay, grass, carpet, etc. MANY junior tournaments (and even open or future events) are played at facilities that are comparable to public parks. Many are in fact played AT public parks. There will be people playing soccer on the adjoining field; families barbecuing; cars backfiring; and dogs barking/fighting. These are conditions to which the player must become accustomed. Until you reach the manicured lawns of Wimbledon, it's mental and physical "sink or swim."

A coach should not always tell the player in advance where you're meeting her. The purpose of these practices is to develop confidence that the player can win under any conditions on every court. Champions are made on the back-courts not stadium court so no need to practice there. Regardless of what the opponent or fate throws your way, you can figure out a way to pull through. 


Most Effective Fitness Routine for Tennis Players

Tennis is a moving sport; that should be obvious to anyone who's ever picked up a racket. However, often times players do not make the best use of their practices in order to achieve both technical expertise as well as physical conditions. Dollars to doughnuts, most developing players will spend 2 hours practicing tennis and then performing a fitness routine (maybe cardio, weights, jumping rope, stretching, etc.) for 30-45minutes thereafter. 

What if there's a better way?! There is. For maximum benefits, try performing your fitness routine DURING practices. For example, players could jump rope while the coach is collecting the tennis balls, sprints could be run in between drills, push ups, kangaroo jumps, etc could be immediately performed for missed shots. Performing fitness exercises during tennis practice will ensure that the tennis component is improved at the same time as the fitness component. In other words, players need to understand that fitness is not secondary; it is as important as the rest of the game. However, perfuming exercises at the end sends the message that they are less important (same message is sent when serves are practiced during the last 10 minutes of practice). Furthermore, if the player performs fitness exercises during practice - particularly points - his level of performance will skyrocket. It's one thing to play points or do drills when you're relatively fresh; another to do the same while you're fatigued and sucking oxygen. 

A great way to improve your tennis fitness would be to play a set where the players have to run a sprint (1minute; e.g., ten-ball sprint) between EVERY single game. This will ensure that the player's conditioning will not break down throughout the match. Of even greater importance would be to run 2 sprints before the ever-important 7th game. If you can hold serve while fatigued, well then you're a player. Similar concepts are implemented by the elite military forces throughout the world. Some units perform tough physical exercises and then are asked to perform some mental task in order to determine how the soldier thinks under the pressure. Elite tennis players would benefit from the same type of training.