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How playing other sports can improve tennis technique

By Steve Green

Outdoor Tennis Court
Outdoor Tennis Court

As a young trainer changing sports from athletics to working in tennis it took me some time to realise the similarities between them.

Both tennis and athletics are considered to be late specialisation sports. A late specialisation sport by its nature allows for time to be given to the young person to develop the basic skills or ABC’s of general athleticism.

In its simplest form. Run, jump, throw, kick, balance, sprint, twist and turn.

These basic skills underpin the development of skill learning that needs to take place as the young person develops.

Tennis Player
Basket Ball

Both athletics and tennis involve a throwing action, the serve and the javelin. Clearly the outcome of the action is very different, however the recruitment of the kinetic chain to generate power is present in both. Therefore throwing activities should be taught as a way to improve the serve.

Footwork patterns in tennis are complex and varied. I would argue that football dribbling skills, basketball one on one’s, hockey’s drills etc are of far greater benefit and relevance than running through a straight line ladder (which was originally invented to increase cadence for sprint athletes).

Backstroke swimming is great for offsetting the over dominant development of frontal plane muscle development created by long hours of hitting.

Variety of activities also brings with it the added bonus of mental freshness.Young people thrive on new challenges. A diet of multi sports brings such challenges. The young person is forced into unfamiliar territory and is made to problem solve.This skill cannot be taught as effectively in a controlled technical or skills session as the content is planned.

Tennis demands a high level of body and mind control on the part of the individual. Free play and the use of other activities encourage and develop these skills in a way that can be effectively used in match play.

In conclusion, finding a balance between technical lessons,squads,competitive play and other sports and free play is challenging in a modern world. However the balance between these areas for the young player is crucial if they are to succeed at the senior end of the game.

- Steve Green

CSWLC Consultant S&C Coach


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