Tennis is a sport requiring players to be strong enough to hold very awkward positions. For example, picture Kim Clijsters finishing in a split on a wide forehand or Novak Djokovic looking like Gumby after stretching to hit a low, open-stance backhand. Core strength is required not only to get into to this position to hit the shot but also to come out of this position to recover for the next shot. The ability to get into and out of these difficult positions will allow a player to defend the court much better and even turn defense into offense.

One of the ways we train for this is with isometric holds. The player will get into a stretch position and hold a medicine ball for a given period of time. This requires complete core strength from the abs, lower back, hip flexors and even the legs. Training will consist of 12 different positions: open-stance forehands and backhands at 3 different heights (low, medium & high) and closed-stance forehands and backhands at all three heights. Below is an example of an open-stance, low backhand.

Note the full extension from the left leg and the perfect posture through Martina’s back. This is much more difficult than it looks!

Using this sequence of isometric holds will improve your core strength, leg strength and even your shoulder strength. More importantly it will improve your ability to defend and counter-attack from the wide parts of the court.