I would like your advice on exercise prescription for a pro tennis coach who I have recently taken on as client. The client is keen on developing more power into his serve.
The first question that needs to be explored is the relative health and fitness of your client. How old he is, and are there any joint injuries that need to be corrected? Most of the time, when a pro turns into a coach, he/she is mid 30s to 40 years of age and has a few tweaks here and there. The reason I bring all this up is to establish your client's ability to recover from a strength and conditioning program. This will help your client progress versus an over training problem.
If we take a leap of faith and say he is in sound physical health and has no known joint problems, then the program to develop a more powerful serve can start. There are several areas to condition to help the serve. These areas are:
- The hip and trunk
- Shoulder girdle
The hip and trunk area can be developed in many ways. What seems to be effective for most people is the cable system, the medicine ball (MB) and the stability ball. These three items will be used in all three of the areas mentioned above. Here are a few exercises to start with.
Cable work starts with your client on his feet doing one and two handed cable pulls on one or two feet. It is a simple pull to the shoulder girdle. This allows shoulder work and spinal activation with balance at the same time. The loads should be moderate to heavy use four to eight reps with some speed. Then move to the kneeling position and do the same thing. In the kneeling position, the glutes and hamstrings are working to keep him from being pulled forward. Next, have him kneel on the exercise ball and do the pulls. This is very challenging and works the hips and upper leg musculature. To finish the cables, have him stand sideways to the stack and pull the weight in a twisting fashion from high to low. All cable exercises use the loads mentioned above with two to five sets for volume. Rest as needed (RAN).
The MB work is completed with light, moderate and heavy balls. Those weights are determined by you and your client. When doing MB work, I look at the ability to complete each set without too much deterioration. In other words, slow down. These following exercises can be completed on two feet, one foot and on the dyna disc. The first task is the MB Chop. This is an overhead pullover down to the floor, with speed. Catch it on the bounce and fire it off again. Reps should flow between five to 10. The chop is also done with a 45 degree angle. Have your client aim in front of the foot he is standing on when doing the single leg chop. Next, the seated MB pullover throw to a wall. While seated, he pulls the MB overhead and whips the ball at the wall, catching it on the return for another throw. This one is tough, so reps drop to three to six. Last is the wall pounder. Standing in front of the wall, the client pushes the ball from mid chest, bouncing it off the wall and back again as fast as possible. He will use his entire body to fire the MB at the wall for reps of 10 to 20. Sets for these exercises range between two to four with RAN.
The stability ball is the finish. Work the abdominals with a twisting motion, with and without weight. The chest press and seated and kneeling overhead press are completed with dumbells. The resistance for this area is moderate and is looking for range of motion and muscle balance. Use eight to 12 reps for three to four sets and one to three minutes of rest.
It is important to work internal and external rotation for shoulder capsule stability and stretching for flexibility. Do not over strain your client. There are many ways to develop power in sport. One of the important phases in training is not doing too much too soon. Good luck.