8 Physical Demands of Tennis

8 physical demands of tennis and what you need to improve your game:

-By Gena Wallis (Physiotherapist at PhysioLogix)

  1. 1.Cardiorespiratory fitness: Tennis is a stop/start sport that requires many repeated short explosive bursts of energy with average point durations of 6.3 seconds on hard court for high performance players. The predominant energy system used is 90% anaerobic and 10% aerobic however the variability of playing style, point duration, recovery times between points and overall match durations will require players to be trained both anaerobically for performance and aerobically for recovery during and after play.
  1. 2.Efficient movement: In tennis the direction of movement is ~70% lateral, 20% forwards and 10% backwards. After hitting the ball recovery movement back to court ideal positon includes a lateral crossover or shuffle. This is important for specific movement training where the majority of time should be spent be on lateral movement.
  1. 3.Strength: Specific muscle strength is required for efficient lateral movement and deceleration ability. The body also requires adequate strength and capacity for the repeated rotational, shear and loading forces that are placed through the all the joints.
  1. 4.Power: Vertical jumping is required on serve and smash. Great power outputs are required for reactive strength and for deceleration, explosive movement and control during landing.
  1. 5.Endurance: Being able to maintain a low wide base throughout a match requires good muscle endurance.


  1. 6.Dynamic balance- 80% of errors in junior tennis are the result of losing balance. Balance needs to be retained during split, set-up and recovery. Maintenance of head position within the shoulder triangle and wide low base of support is key. A strong core helps the rest of the body perform at its best from a stable centre. Appropriate balance therefore enables efficient energy transfer from the ground up to result in a more powerful tennis stroke.
  1. 7.Agility: Agility was the physical ability that influenced the competitive level of young tennis players the most. Tennis is a highly reactive sport with an average of 4 changes of direction per point. The split step is common practise in tennis to improve the ability to react to the incoming ball and a good reaction time impacts on how fast the athlete can make the explosive first step. Development of acceleration and deceleration is important over 12m.
  1. 8.Co-ordination. Coordination is required during stroke force production. Force production begins in the legs and is transferred throughout the body to the finer control muscles of the hand and wrist. Movement around the court needs to be coordinated for efficient footwork and preparation.

If you are interested in working on any of these aspects have a chat with one of our tennis physios who can help organise appropriate performance testing measures and develop a tennis specific training program individualised for you and your level of tennis. Call PhysioLogix on 0735111112 to speak with one of our tennis physiotherapists.


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Kovacs M, Roetert E, Ellenbecker T. Efficient Deceleration: The Forgotten Factor in Tennis-Specific Training. Strength and Conditioning Journal. 2008;30(6):58-69.