Feb. 5, 2019

Powerful strokes for tennis

Powerful strokes for tennis

Tennis players need to be well-rounded athletes able to play for 3 hours or more, with high levels of speed, agility, balance, and power. Pound-for-pound, elite tennis players have some of the highest levels of conditioning with powerful legs, strong core, and toned upper body. But, while tennis players need to be strong, they need to be cautious in building too 'bulk'. It is extra weight has to be carried for 3-5 miles during a match. On the other hand, they cannot just focus on endurance. Tennis is made up of tons of short sprints and explosive movements. So, instead, they must build their 'fast-twitch' muscles. The 'snack-sized' exercises below can be done in 12-15 minutes and are designed to help players improve the levels of power in their strokes. They should be completed alongside the breadth of fitness activities. Power is only useful in tennis if you have the ability to use that power effectively move explosively in a coordinated manner. If you are a beginner, then we recommend with working on other exercises first before embarking on power exercises. Check out Tennis Footwork Drills and Core Strength and Stability.

Benefits of power training

The benefits of adding power through training to your tennis game are that it allows you to:

  1. Have more powerful strokes
  2. Change direction quickly
  3. Have a faster reaction time.

To boost your strength to hit shots with the pace and depth, exercises need to be focused on all muscles group - legs, core, arms, back, and shoulders. In tennis, the core is the key area to provide strong, consistent groundstrokes and serves, so that is what we will focus most on.

Equipment needed

Medicine ball

Medicine balls are available anywhere from 4 to 15 lbs. You should select one based on your size, age, and strength. Typically beginners should select 4lbs (2Kgs), Intermediate 6-8 lbs (3-4Kgs) and Advanced 8-12 lbs (4Kgs or more). These medicine balls are good value, high quality and bounce well.

Yoga mat (optional)

For some of these exercises, you may wish to use a mat. Here's a good value yoga mat.

Power workouts

To avoid injuries, we strongly encourage you to warm-up for 5-10 minutes before engaging in any strength-related exercises. Alternatively, add these exercises at the end of a clinic or match when you are already warm.

Tabata 40/20 for legs and the upper body

This set uses what is called a 'Tabata' approach where you workout for 12 min - exercising for 40 seconds and resting for 20 seconds. It's known as 40/20. You will work legs and upper body. You will repeat the 4 exercises, 3 times.

  • Jumping squat. Perform a regular squat with your knee staying above your heel. Keep your back straight, your chin up. Keep your butt out. As you come back up, perform a jump by springing upwards.
  • Push up, hands leave the ground. Lay face down on the yoga mat and perform a regular push-up, Then as you go down let your body lay flat on the ground. Then, while still laying, lift your hands up and hold for 2 seconds. Then place your hands back on the ground and complete a push back up.
  • Single Leg (left leg) lunges. Lift your right leg about 18-20 inches off the ground. Now perform controlled single lunges on the left leg for the 40 seconds. if you feel any pain then don't bend any further and straighten again. Keep your back straight and chin up.
  • Single Leg (right leg) lunges. Same again but this time with the right leg.

Medicine ball fun

This circuit will be performed for 12 minutes using a medicine ball with no rest in between exercises. These exercises are high energy and fun way to get rid of any tension. Do each exercise for 1 minute. Repeat the set 3 times.

  • Medicine ball overhead toss. Perform a squat holding a medicine ball, as you release upward using your ankles, knees, and hips, you will want to explode upward and throw the medicine ball as high as possible, catch it back and repeat the exercise.
  • Medicine ball slam down. Bring medicine ball above your head, slam it down and pick it back up.
  • Medicine ball side throw (left side). Face the wall in a strong stance with knees slightly bent. Take the medicine ball in both hands. Rotate your torso to the left with your left hand behind the ball and right hand towards the front. Now, upload from the ground up to toss the ball at a wall and catch it. Repeat. Focus on bringing power up through your legs.
  • Medicine ball side throw (right side). Repeat the same drill on the other side.

Lunges and arms

These exercises focus a little more on strength of the legs and arms. Repeat each exercise 3 times. It should take 15 minutes or less.

  • Forward lunge. All lunges can be done with or without small weights (if you want to make it harder).Perform 20 forward lunges alternating which leg you lead with.
  • Backward lunge. Perform 20 backward lunges alternating which leg you step back with.
  • Cross-over lunge. Perform 10 cross-over lunges on one side and then 10 on the other. They need a little coordination so if you are just starting out then you may wish to give these a miss. Make sure your friend foot is pointing forward, then cross over the back foot, trying to get the back knee behind the front foot. Then return upright and do again.
  • Biceps curl with elastic. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, place the elastic bands underneath your feet. Keep your upper arms at your sides, bend your elbows and curl the handles toward your shoulders. Repeat 20 times.
  • Standing overhead triceps extension. Standing upright, facing forward. Hold elastic band in your right hand. Lift your arm and drop the band behind your back and grab with your left hand. Start with your right elbow by your right ear and the band tight. Now straighten your arm and release. You can adjust the tension with your left hand and selecting a different thickness (color) of the band. Repeat 15 reps and then do the same with the left arm.

Tabata 45/15 with nine exercises

This set of drills are not for the faint-hearted. Stick with it to build your power. It is a similar Tabata approach but this time with 45 seconds effort and only 15 seconds rest between each exercise. Total time is 10 minutes. You can rest and repeat or go straight into the next set.

  • Air squats. This is a regular squat down to legs at 90-degrees or as low as comfortable. Arms by your side or bring them out front to balance as you go down.
  • Tricep dips. Sit on the floor with your knees bent, feet on the floor, hands on the floor behind you with fingers pointing toward the body. To begin, lift hips off the floor. Slowly and gently bend your elbows and lower your body close to the floor.
  • Jumping lunges. Start facing forward and lunge with your right leg in front and left behind. Now spring vertically into the air, and swap the position of your legs to land with your left leg out front and right leg behind. Continue lunging and jumping.
  • Mountain climbers. Take the plank position with your shoulders over your wrists. Your shoulders need to stabilize the upper body. Now right knee in without lifting the hips. Now bring the left leg up, while taking the right leg backward. Now, get into a steady fast rhythm moving your legs in and out.
  • Knee to chest jump. Stand upright. Jump up and get your knees to come up and touch try and touch your chest. Start slowly and building rhythm.
  • Shoulder tap. Start in the push-up position with your back straight, core contracted. Now, maintaining this position, quickly touch your left shoulder with your right fingertips and return the hand to the ground. Repeat with the left hand and right shoulder. Now, keep going.
  • Squat and jump. Squat down slowly until your legs are at 90-degrees or as low as you can go. Hold for 3 seconds. Now, spring vertically upwards and land softly. Squat down again and continue.
  • Low to high plank. This is a great exercise for people who can safely do a regular plank. So, start in the normal plank position on your elbows with your body straight. Now, take your right hand and place it by your right shoulder and push-up. Contract the core and keep stable. You should be titled to the right side. Take your left hand and place by your left shoulder and push-up. Now, you should be in the push-up starting position. Next is to complete the same in reverse starting with placing your right elbow on the ground, followed by your left.
  • Hold chair position. This exercise involves holding a low squat for 45 seconds like you are sitting in an imaginary chair.
  • Military push up. This is a regular push-up performed with 'military' precision. Quality is important to avoid injury. Keep a straight back. If you find you are straining your back then stop.

Improve serve power

Get a more powerful serve in three exercises. Repeat all 3 times.

  • Service toss. Stand as if you were ready to serve. Hold the medicine ball in both hands at your shoulder level (right side if right-handed, left if left-handed). Rotate your body to load up. Then throw the medicine ball as far as possible. Go get the ball and start again. Perform 10 throws ensuring you bring the power from the ground up.
  • Overhead toss. Perform a squat holding a medicine ball in front of you in both hands. Now explode upwards using the power from your legs, to throw the medicine ball vertically as high as possible. Catch it safely and repeat the exercise. Perform 10 throws in total. Quality beats quantity as you seek to build fast twitch muscles.
  • Shoulder push up. Start in a standard pushup position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and elbows completely locked out. Shoot your hips towards the ceiling so your body looks like an upside-down 'V.' Slowly lower the top of your head towards the ground. Once your head is about to make contact with the ground, pause, and then press back up to the starting position. Perform 10 times total.


At Tennisletics, we recommend ‘common sense’ when embarking on any exercise regime. If you have any doubt, you should check with your doctor before beginning any of our suggested workouts and drills or following any fitness program that, by their nature, you are performing at your own risk. We have made all reasonable efforts to create this content. Tennisletics, LLC will not be responsible or liable for any injury or harm you sustain as a result of our fitness blogs, videos, or any other information shared on our website or apps.