The tennis wall or backboard is an unbeatable opponent and tireless hitting ‘partner.’ In fact, when we compete against human opponents who get ball after ball back, we say that it was like hitting against a ‘human backboard!’
So, rather than dreading the thought of hitting against the wall - human or otherwise - you can actually use the wall to not only improve your game and hone your strokes, but also to improve your conditioning and your ability to outlast those ‘human walls.’ With the proper motivation, attitude and training, you can make this unbeatable foe a wonderful tennis conditioning buddy. Here’s how I train my tennis fitness training clients using the wall.
Of course, first things first! Always start with a proper warm-up (e.g. dynamic warm-up and a few easy strokes against the wall to warm-up). Now you’re ready to PLAY!
Start by playing out a tennis point against the wall. Simulate a 20 - 30 second point by trying to keep a single ball in play for that entire time (hitting forehands and backhands). Keep a few extra tennis balls in your pocket so that if you cannot keep the single ball in play for the designated time, you can take one out of your pocket and continue with minimal delay. After hitting for the designated time, take a short break - simulating the time between points (e.g. 20 seconds or so), then begin again. Continue this process for several points, alternating your hitting time from between 15-45 seconds, and your ‘rest’ time between points to anywhere from 5-20 seconds. By using this type of ‘interval’ tennis conditioning session, you would begin to notice improved tennis-specific cardiovascular conditioning and be better prepared to meet, and beat, those human-wall opponents that seem to give us all a problem.
Let’s Bump-Up the Intensity
If you find that you want to up the intensity of your ‘wall workout’ session, you can do so by using a rubber medicine ball that bounces. Use a ball weight between 2-8 pounds and throw it against the wall, alternating between forehands and backhands. Stand close enough to the wall so that you can catch the ball on one bounce and don’t forget to move your feet as you alternate ‘strokes!” Use both arms to throw and catch the ball.
Because this is a much higher intensity exercise, limit your points to between 10-15 seconds until your conditioning and strength improves. Also. as with any type of training, I highly recommend that you check with your physician to ensure that this type of training is appropriate for you before starting.
About the Author: LaRue is a CTPS, CSCS and also holds specialty certifications as a Youth Conditioning Specialist. LaRue travels the US providing specialty training and programming to Country Clubs and other organizations, working with tennis players and other athletes providing one-on-one and team Strength and Conditioning and Post-Rehab training. LaRue also serves on the Board of Examiners for the National Board of Fitness Examiners.