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Strong legs: training techniques and recovery methods for tennis players

Strong legs: training techniques and recovery methods for tennis players

Tennis is a sport that demands agility, speed, and precision. While a strong forehand and a precise serve are essential components of a tennis player's arsenal, one aspect often overlooked is the importance of leg strength. Understanding that gravity’s pull on the human body is constant, any generation of strength and power for a tennis player, must be initiated with the legs. The legs play a pivotal role in a player's ability to cover ground quickly, execute powerful shots, and maintain endurance throughout a match. 

Tennis is a sport characterized by sudden bursts of movement in all directions. A player must be able to sprint forward to the net, move laterally to reach wide shots, and change direction rapidly in response to an opponent's ever-changing shot selection. Strong leg muscles are crucial for executing these dynamic movements. 

The force behind a player's shots, whether it's a serve, forehand, backhand, or volleys originates from the legs. Leg strength is directly linked to the power a player can generate in their strokes. A strong lower body allows players to push off the ground, transferring energy through the entire body and, ultimately, to the racket. This translates to faster serves, more powerful groundstrokes, and the ability to control the pace of the game.

Tennis matches can be grueling, often lasting for several hours. Endurance is a key factor in maintaining a high level of performance throughout a match. Strong leg muscles contribute to overall stamina, allowing players to move efficiently and avoid fatigue. As the legs provide the primary support for the body, well-conditioned leg muscles delay the onset of fatigue, enabling players to stay competitive from the first point to the last.

Leg strength also helps prevent injuries. Tennis involves repetitive and intense movements, which can put a strain on various parts of the body. Strong leg muscles provide stability and support to the joints, reducing the risk of injuries such as sprains and strains. Additionally, a well-rounded strength-training program that includes the lower body can contribute to overall injury resilience.

To compliment challenging leg training, recovery methods such as cryotherapy, magnetherapy, compression and radio frequency therapy are all adjuncts. At Boca Cryo (Boca Raton, Florida), we successfully assist our tennis clients with recovery, using a combination of these modalities to maintain the athlete’s ready-to-perform state.

Above: Shelby Rogers who achieved a career high world No. 30 WTA ranking focuses on leg recovery at Boca Cryo with Magnetherapy and Cryotherapy at Boca Cryo in Boca Raton.

There is a distinct difference between strength and power. The ability to apply a force over a certain distance (work) vs doing that work fast (work/time), respectively. The tennis player needs to develop power, more specifically power endurance. This means the ability to repeat powerful movements in succession without fatigue. So power is critical but not accomplished without a good base of strength.

To enhance leg strength for tennis, players can incorporate a variety of exercises into their training routine. Various types of squats, lunges and step-ups are a good start. Conditioning exercises such as tennis-specific agility drills and plyometric exercises are effective for building leg power which enhances dynamic movement. It's also essential to include flexibility and mobility exercises when improving leg strength and power to insure a functional and balanced lower body.

In the dynamic game of tennis, leg strength is a silent force that can make the difference between an average player and a champion. Whether it’s covering ground swiftly, executing powerful shots, maintaining endurance, or preventing injuries, strong legs are the cornerstone of success on the tennis court. So the next time you step onto the court, the phrase “having a leg up on your competition” could take on a whole new meaning!


Ian Pyka was a two-sport collegiate athlete and three-time All-American who made the Olympic team. Pyka went on to become the strength and conditioning coach at the Florida Panthers and New England Patriots. Pyka currently teaches at FAU’s Exercise Science Department and owns Boca Cryo (located at 1200 Yamato Rd. in Boca Raton) which recently added EWOT training to their portfolio of services. Visit to learn more. Top Photo: Gaspar Zaldo via Unsplash. Photos: Boca Cryo.

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