| By Lori Ettlinger Gross

Resistance training for tennis performance has two functions: First, to improve a player’s strength because explosive power is essential in the game today; and secondly, to decrease the risk of injury. Pilates is a natural fit when it comes to training for tennis performance. The Pilates repertoire trains the body for strength, flexibility, balance, rotation, and stability—all of these key components increase power as well as pre-hab, to teach the player to use the muscles in a way that prevents injury.

Core strength improves stroke power. It assists with balance and control for quick reactions and direction change. Pilates abdominal work is essential for the tennis player, and while most people are familiar with the emphasis of core training, they are not as well educated in what constitutes the core: Abs, lower back, gluteals, hamstrings, quads, and hip flexors and extensors.

Rotation of the body in tennis is an active part of the game. Training for these movements, and improving the strength and flexibility of the abdominal obliques in Pilates offers tennis players the opportunity to work to both stabilize and strengthen simultaneously. Training for power in the legs and arms is equally dynamic in the Pilates repertoire. The core is required to steady and balance the body as the movements of the arms and legs are challenged.

Flexibility for the entire body is essential for effective tennis performance. Increasing ranges of motion, covering greater distances on the tennis court, and injury prevention are among the many benefits of being able to counter tight hip flexors, quads and hamstrings—so often seen in tennis players. Shoulder injuries are prevalent in tennis, and need special attention. Due to these particular demands, tennis has specific flexibility goals for which the Pilates repertoire is essential. Pilates uses active and dynamic stretching techniques that strengthen and stretch muscles simultaneously. Static stretching has been shown to reduce strength, speed and power movements when performed prior to play. When dynamic range of motion training is done using the correct techniques, it can address muscle imbalances in strength and flexibility which results in greater functional movement for the competitive tennis player.

Pilates for tennis performance should be an integral part of training, whether it is for the recreational or the competitive player. Through the Pilates repertoire, stabilizing the body while simultaneously challenging strength and flexibility offers one of the most effective ways to achieve tennis power performance.

Lori Ettlinger Gross

<p>After 20 years of practicing Pilates, Lori Ettlinger Gross became a BASI PILATES-accredited instructor for mat and all apparatus in 2012. She also has an Equinox Mat Pilates certification, and is working towards her Tennis Performance Trainer certification through the International Tennis Performance Association. Lori is also an author, freelance writer, and retired attorney. Her appointment-only studio, Sweatstyle Pilates is located in Great Neck, N.Y. She may be reached by phone at (516) 644-8808 or e-mail <a href="mailto:sweatstylepilates@gmail.com">sweatstylepilates@gmail.com</a>.</p>