Five Seasons Family Sports Club Blog

When to Add Strength Training to Your Child's Tennis Routine

Posted by Five Seasons Family Sports Club on 8/15/17 9:00 AM

It is a well-known fact that strength training is one of the best ways for tennis players to improve their power, control and athleticism. While strength training is commonly recommended for adult tennis players, what about for children? Is it safe, or will it cause problems down the road? Fortunately, the latest research has shown that strength training is not only safe for kids when done properly, but it can also be very beneficial to their overall body development.

The key is for the training to be age-appropriate and gradually implemented. So when would be a good time to introduce strength training into your child's tennis routine? Below are some helpful tips for the most commonly recognized age brackets.

Ages 7-12 

The most effective starting point for children ages 7-12 is to focus on basic bodyweight exercises. Keep in mind the phrase "strength training" doesn't automatically mean working out with weights; in fact, simple exercises using nothing but your child's own body weight can provide an appropriate amount of resistance without requiring any extra load.

You can start your child off with classic bodyweight exercises such as squats, pushups, lunges, burpees, pull-ups, and mountain climbers, as each of these movements work several different muscle groups at one time. Another advantage of these types of exercises is that they will lay a solid foundation to develop your child's overall strength and athleticism, which is more important at this age than isolating any one particular muscle group. As your child begins to master these basic exercises using correct form, you can slowly start introducing light free weights for movements such as squats, bicep curls and shoulder presses. 

Ages 13 and Up 

At this age, you can begin to transition your child into more advanced types of strength training, including tennis-specific conditioning exercises. One of the most critical areas that must be developed are the shoulders, as they are one of the main muscle groups that are put under repetitive stress during match play. Consider adding shoulder presses (with slightly heavier weight), lateral raises, forward raises, and tricep kickbacks to your child's strength training routine. Not only will this improve their ability to put more power behind their shots, but it's also an important protective measure in terms of injury prevention.

Another critical area is the elbow joint, as it is often susceptible to repetitive strain injuries (a.k.a. tennis elbow). While tennis elbow is often the result of poor stroke mechanics, another leading cause is weak arm muscles. By adding exercises such as bicep curls, tricep extensions and dumbbell wrist curls (pronated and supinated) to your child's strength training regimen, they can develop more power, control and grip strength to help improve their shots and prevent injuries. 

Variety is the Key

As you well know, your child's body is growing and developing rapidly during their pre-teen and teenage years, and their muscles will be surprisingly adaptive and responsive to strength training workouts. If you keep their strength training routine the same for weeks on end, it will produce a "diminishing returns" effect, where their muscles will easily adapt to the exercises, eventually lessening their effectiveness. To avoid this "plateau effect," be sure to mix things up and keep the workouts somewhat unpredictable, so that your child's body will continue to produce a positive response to the exercises.

Strength training can be a wonderful tool to incorporate into your child's tennis routine, but it must be done the right way. The exercises should be age-appropriate, executed with good form and always performed under adult supervision. Keep the above tips and ideas in mind to help improve your child's performance on the tennis court.

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Topics: Tennis

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