Big guns in the tennis world like Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, alongside rising stars like Carlos Alcaraz and Stefanos Tsitsipas, have a few things in common – physical fitness, discipline, commitment, and a positive mindset. Nadal, who has won 22 Grand Slam titles, is famous for his physical strength, which lets him create a unique style of play to keep the game exciting. Djokovic, who has won 93 singles titles, pointed out that his secret to success was devotion, commitment, and discipline.
Looking at the younger generation, Alcaraz, ranked second in the men’s singles, noted that despite his winnings, he still has to work hard, train, and be prepared. For Tsitsipas, he attributes his success to staying mentally strong in crucial moments of his game. These are only a few successful players in tennis, all of whom have made and are still making their mark.
Becoming a professional tennis player takes more than knowing how to serve and strike a ball. Besides learning the basic techniques, there are physical needs you must develop, as well as different mental requirements. This post dives into everything you need to know about becoming a professional tennis player.
What are the requirements to succeed in professional tennis?
Being a winner in tennis undoubtedly requires lots of training. According to top coaches and players, these include working to meet specific physical requirements, mental preparation, and knowing the strategies and techniques involved in the game. In the following sections, we discuss these requirements in detail.
Physicality is considered the most crucial farm
Genetics plays a huge role in a person’s physical ability, but elite athletes have achieved their status thanks to years of dedicated training. Many of them travel with a physical trainer who helps keep them in shape throughout a tournament. Seeing these athletes display their physical abilities is one of the reasons why fans are drawn to the game. In fact, punters wager on these events at Non GamStop bet sites. So, as an aspiring tennis player, what are the most important physical traits you must develop?
Cardiovascular and Muscular Endurance
The men’s singles tournament in a Grand Slam can last up to six hours. No matter how skilled, a player with poor endurance has little chance of winning in such a contest. That’s where cardiovascular endurance (the ability to keep their heart and lungs working hard) comes in. Running, and especially interval training is a great way to improve this.
Muscular endurance is also crucial in tennis, especially for attackers, because during a long game, players must complete sets of fast, explosive movements multiple times without showing any signs of fatigue. You can build this with regular strength training, but for best results, you should utilise a weight that is slightly below your maximum but perform more repetitions.
Even if a player is very good at reading the game, they will still face many instances in a tennis match when they must respond to sudden shifts in placement and pace. Thus, tennis players need to train to be as fit as Novak Djokovic in order to be quick on their feet to deal with challenging strokes. Fortunately, there are a lot of workouts that can help with this. A good example is practicing over distances similar to those that could be covered in a rally, like a set of 20-meter sprints.
Tennis shots that pack a punch result from a series of motions involving the whole body, not just the arms and shoulders. Legs and glutes need as much attention during strength training as arms and shoulders. That said, players can improve their strength with a well-planned strength training program that includes the use of proper weights in the gym.
Mentality is the key to consistency
Stamina and mental tenacity go hand in hand. Many players believe that tennis is more of a mental game than a physical one. Gigi Fernandez, a multiple Grand Slam champion and two-time Olympic champion, is one of the more well-known athletes who holds such a belief. According to the Puerto Rican, the mental level of the game is 84.2%. On that note, here are three mental aspects that must be developed for one to become a professional tennis player.
The first step in developing mental toughness is for players to imagine they are strong. When your image is powerful, your body unconsciously tries to live up to it. Furthermore, mental toughness is proportional to a player’s talent level, not just their tolerance for pressure, so constant physical training is essential to building your mental capacity.
The human mind tends to focus on unusual objects, such as an observer waving a flag in the crowd. Whenever this occurs, we devote a small portion of our mental capacity and attention to processing what we observe, which frequently causes us to lose concentration on our present task. Tennis players can avoid this by focusing on the court and not thinking of the audience, just the ball and the opponent. It’s also essential to always be in the present, not worrying about winning, hitting a bad shot, or even losing the game.
Discipline pushes a player to work even when they don’t want to. You can build this by creating a routine and sticking to it; it’ll pay off in the long run. Remember that the only way to get better at tennis is to practice, and the only way to keep practising is through discipline.
Technique & Strategies: The final steps to conquer the tennis world
Many will argue that one must be born with a certain level of talent in tennis to excel in the game, but that talent is worthless unless it is honed by regular practice. Besides being in shape both physically and mentally, players must work on their techniques and strategies. These include:
- Stroke mechanics: Players’ stoke mechanics differ from one court surface to another. For example, while it’s still early to determine the best court surfaces for Carlos Alcarez, it’s been established that he’s good on both clay and hard court. Practising on all court surfaces – grass, clay, and hard, is important.
- Footwork and court positioning: According to veteran coach and Nike’s Tennis Camp Director George Zink, footwork in tennis is everything. Excellent footwork means the player can recover faster and hit more balls. Court positioning is just as important as footwork and may sometimes be the deciding factor between winning and losing. You move more efficiently and can handle shots better when you develop proper positioning.
- Good serve: If your serve is weak, you’ll give away free points in the form of double faults. Serving well is the first step in establishing dominance in a tennis match. Your opponent may not be able to return your serve if you have excellent serve placement or hit powerful serves.
- Groundstrokes and volleys: The groundstroke is the most-used stroke in tennis, and learning it is a plus, but perfecting a volley gives you an edge. The purpose of a volley in tennis is to catch your opponent off guard by returning the ball so rapidly that they don’t have time to process what just happened. It’s an offensive rather than a defensive attempt. The shot also lessens the impact of a bad bounce, particularly on clay and grass courts.