Today’s young high-level athletes are typically involved in year-round competition and training. One of the most important attributes of a tennis player is serve velocity and accuracy. Few studies have been conducted on the effects of strength training on serve performance in adult players. In the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, researchers published the first study on the benefits of strength training on serve velocity in junior tennis players.
Thirty 13-year old nationally ranked male junior tennis players were randomly assigned to either a training group or a control group for 6 weeks. Both groups performed stretching after each session. The training group performed approximately one hour of conditioning exercises 3 days per week. The program included 10 minutes dynamic warm-up and 50 minutes strength training including TheraBand elastic resistance, which is the most commonly used training tool among professional tennis players (Reid & Schneiker 2008).
The athletes were tested before and after the 6-week program for shoulder range of motion (ROM), serve velocity, and serve accuracy. Download the junior tennis conditioning exercise protocol here.
The exercise group increased their serve velocity an average of 4.9% (from 150.3 to 157.9 kph). Both groups increased in their shoulder ROM, but the training groups increased an average of 13.6° of total rotation motion, while the control group only increased an average of 8.2°.
While the control group did not improve in their velocity, serve accuracy remained the same in both groups. The researchers stated, “One of the primary advantages of this training program is that only inexpensive resistance devices are needed, so it can be easily implemented during the daily training routine.”
A short-term training program including TheraBand elastic resistance and Soft Weights can increase serve velocity 5% without affecting accuracy in young tennis players.
The researchers concluded, “The use of elastic resistance (eg TheraBand) is highly recommended for developmental tennis players in order to improve their performance levels.”
Watch this short video from co-author Todd Ellenbecker discussing the study:
REFERENCE: Fernandez-Fernandez J, et al. Effects of a 6-week junior tennis conditioning program on service velocity. J Sports Sci Med. 2013. 12:232-239.