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Fitness

In this program, our objective is to improve all main aspects of a tennis player’s physical preparation, which are coordination, speed, strength, endurance, and flexibility. Fitness training should prepare children’s bodies for later loads and prevent potential injuries.   

Program in numbers
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8+

That's the recommended age for this stage.

The sooner the better, but for those who are below 8, we recommend starting with Multiskills.

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5

5 main parts:

Warm-up, Coordination, Speed/Agility, Strength and Flexibility. 

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6

A coach should be able to handle up to 6 kids.

Especially in early age kids it's important to socialise in group. 

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60

The class duration should be no longer than 60 minutes.

We recommend trying  also 30 minutes blocks before or after the tennis session. 

What will kids learn?
  • Proper technique of running, jumping, throwing, catching

  • Improvement in tennis related footwork

  • To understand why warm-up, coordination, speed and strength are important in tennis 

  • Which body parts are involved in tennis. 

  • What’s the difference between flexibility training and after work-out flexibility.

Criteria

good behavior – respect for the coach and the other players, appreciation for own material stuff and material provided by the tennis club

 

equipment - sports shoes, sporty clothing, racket or other equipment, beverage

dedication and motivation to participate 

Material

Fitness might not sound like fun to kids at young age but a good selection of equipment can help us, to make it more interesting. We recommend using equipment including balance beams, hurdles, tunnels, tumble mats, balls, beanbags, cones, lines, and limbo polls.

 

The material should be adapted to age and kids must feel safe. 

Structure of the lesson

The lesson should consist of 5 (6) main parts:

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We recommend adding proper fitness training for everyone who practices 2 times a week and more. That means, fitness should be the 3rd lesson. It’s crucial to follow proper athlete development pathway and do not rush into early strength training.

  1. WARM-UP 

    • Active and passive movements with the involvement of all body parts, in order to prevent injury
       

  2. COORDINATION 

    • Locomotor skills - jumping, hopping, galloping, rolling, leaping and dodging, horizontal jump, slide. 

    • Stability skills - balance, twisting, turning, and bending

    • Basic gymnastic movements
       

  3. SPEED AND AGILITY

    • Reaction starts, acceleration, deceleration, sprints

    • Athletic exercises – the correct running technique

    • Running through an agility ladder, cones hurdles

    • Tennis specific movement – cross-steps, sideways movement

       

  4. STRENGTH

    • Proper technique of squats, lunges, plank, push-up, 

    • Introducing station training, Tabata, explosive strength, pyramid work

    • Working on core muscles with variations of plank exercises

    • Using correct weights (body weight, additional weight) with proper explanation and technique
       

  5. FLEXIBILITY

    • Must include all major muscles and joints – quadriceps femoris, hamstring muscles, calf muscles, ab/adductors, gluteus, iliopsoas, pectoralis, wrists, and forearms 

    • Flexibility training – well planned long-term stretching activity with the goal to increase the flexibility level of an athlete

    • After-work out flexibility – quick stretching activity with a selection of 4-5 exercises to help the body with fast recovery

       

  6. ENDURANCE

    • this stage should not be forgotten, but since space might be limited (gym, small fitness rooms) it’s not possible to always implement it into the fitness session. 

    • Early age stage - the introduction of endurance training by prolonged exercises full of variations and changes, relays, and other fun games with aspects of endurance

    • Later age stage - involving more general endurance exercises such as 1km-3km-5km run, fartlek, focusing on tennis-specific endurance training (tennis match could be 3-4 hours long)
       

Example of time split of the lesson:

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Trainability

Too often, children’s fitness programs are modeled after those designed for adults or even those meant for professional athletes. But considering human growth and measurable changes in children’s bodies, this approach logically would be wrong. While there is great variation in the tempo of growth, the pattern of growth itself is common to all children. That is why we have to synchronize the fitness plan with the children’s trainability. 

 

Trainability refers to the responsiveness of children to the training stimulant at different stages of growth and maturation. Simply put, during a child's development, there are critical time periods, in which the child is more able to develop specific abilities. As shown in the table below, for example, the best time for training coordination is between age 6 and 10, or orientation between 14 – 18. 

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Our recommendation!

 

FOCUS ON GENERAL PREPARATION FIRST AND RESPECT THE ATHLETE DEVELOPMENT PATHWAY

The most suitable fitness training for kids of young age includes variations and combinations of other sports, which are focused on general physical development. These activities such as gymnastic or athletics are more fun and can be even more efficient. With a later stage, where kids play more than 2 times a week of tennis practice, it is a necessity to focus on tennis related fitness training. This training should include all the aspects above and mainly follow the athlete development pathway. It’s common that coaches rush too early into strength training or tennis specific exercises and do not respect how the children’s body work. Our recommendation is to first focus on general preparation and fix all “holes” and limitations. Then we can reach better results in tennis specific fitness training without risk of injuries. We cannot forget about socialization too, so group practice is very important. 

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