Speed is perhaps the most vital determinant of your performance during a tennis match. If you can get to the ball early and are in a good position to hit it, you've increased your chances to hit the ball well, and possibly win the point.
Tennis players who are quick on their feet can more easily change direction and can even dominate an opponent who is technically more skilled.
Tennis speed is so much more than the ability to run at maximum speeds. If you think about it, because of the distances covered on a tennis court, it is almost impossible to reach top speed.
And unlike other disciplines that are more closely associated with speed, such as the 100-meter sprint, tennis requires multi-directional quickness.
The best way to improve your speed on the tennis court is to train in ways that mimic the demands of the sport. It's a principle known as "specificity." For instance, if you're a tennis player you don't want to train like a bodybuilder or vice versa. In other words, your training should align with your sport.
Here are five steps on how to train for tennis speed.
1. Proper Warm-Up and Cool Down
Training for tennis speed is all about maximum effort and intensity, so a proper dynamic—not static—warm-up is an essential first step to prepare your muscles for the work ahead.
The rate of muscular contraction is very high during speed training. If you don't take the time to warm up properly you really run the risk of injury. The same can be said of the cool-down period after training.
The excessive contractions tend to shorten the muscles and produce waste products as the session progresses. A proper cool down will help to stretch the muscles back to their original resting length and eliminate the presence of the waste products such as lactic acid.
The warm up should start slowly at low intensities and build up, whereas your cool down should be exact opposite (gradually slowing down) and finishing with some static stretching.
A proper warm up and cool down will also significantly reduce the amount of muscle soreness that will occur a day or so after the session.