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Friday, July 25, 2008

Coaches Q and A: Which Sports are Beneficial to Tennis Development and When is the Right Time to Stop Them?

In this installment, Andy Brandi of the Harold Solomon Tennis Institute in Fort Lauderdale, Florida discusses the advantages of cross-training for tennis and the appropriate time to focus solely on one sport.

Andy Brandi responds:

One sport to look at is track and field. Running cross country or running the sprint races or the mile is great in developing your stamina and speed. This should be a part of any player’s fitness training.

Tennis is an eye-foot sport. It requires being in the right place in order to hit the tennis ball. Quickness and agility are very important in tennis while an explosive first step is very helpful to get to the right position.

With that in mind, look at soccer and basketball as sports that will complement the development of a tennis player. Both demand a lot of quickness and agility. Eye-foot coordination is a must in both sports and they both are very helpful in developing good fitness levels.

Another path would involve the use of martial arts and kickboxing in developing flexibility, footwork and balance as well as developing hip flexors, which are very important to tennis players. Ballet is another activity that will help in this area.

As for the question of when to stop doing them to concentrate solely on tennis, my son Christopher played soccer, basketball and baseball until he decided he wanted to concentrate on tennis at age 11.

You don’t have to stop playing other sports however, if you use them as a way to complement your training. You can use this cross-training as a fitness tool. Playing soccer or basketball for an hour a couple of times a week would not hurt. Going to martial arts classes for an hour 2-3 days a week would be good. The key is that tennis is your main sport and everything you do athletically outside of tennis complements your overall tennis training. You should use all these activities to round out your fitness training for tennis. Best of luck!

Do you have a question for Andy or Harold? If so, please send it to clewis[at]zootennis[dot]com with the phrase Coaches Q and A in the subject line.