Guest Author - Clare Chambers
Cardio Tennis is the latest fitness craze to hit the tennis scene in the last 18 months. It was started in the USA in 2005 by the Tennis Industry Association as a way of getting more people involved in Tennis. The great thing about Cardio Tennis is that you don’t need to be a good level of player to do it, lower-skilled players can also benefit from Cardio Tennis sessions because it is focused on fitness and footwork and less on hitting great forehand and backhand shots. Most professional players nowadays have access to personal trainers to build their stamina. For amateurs, Cardio Tennis can provide similar benefits. Cardio Tennis can be better than a gym workout because, as with swimming, it’s a total body workout rather than just focusing on one area of the body as does running or cycling.
The Director for the Tennis Industry Association and for Cardio Tennis, Michelle Krause, commented recently that Cardio Tennis is better for your tennis-related fitness than standard practice sessions, because “...lower-skilled players are not hitting many balls – they are chasing them”, which doesn’t increase your heart rate as much. In Cardio Tennis, the instructor controls the activity so that a player can hit lots of balls, enabling them to remain within his or her ‘aerobic training zone’ heart range for longer. Participants not only gain cardiovascular benefits from the sessions however, Cardio Tennis can improve a player’s game because lots of tennis tips on how to improve are also offered throughout the sessions by the instructors. Moreover, if you haven’t played tennis for a while it’s a great way of getting back into the game.
What does a Cardio Tennis session include?
A session will usually begin with stretching exercises, followed by three sets of hitting exercises with breaks to pick up balls (and to catch your breath!) sprinkled in between. Often low-bouncing practice balls normally used for children’s Mini or Street Tennis are used but nevertheless it’s the consistent pace of the simple basket feeding drills that keeps it challenging. There is little time to rest before reaching the front of the queue and hitting another ball...it doesn’t matter however where a player hits the ball, the increase in stamina and movement ability achieved through constant footwork exercises, will certainly transfer into real tennis matches. It’s high energy and on average a person will burn about 600 calories per session, depending on an individual’s metabolism.
Cardio Tennis has also taken off across Britain over the last couple of years. The Lawn Tennis Association reports that in that time, around 400 coaches have been trained up and are currently delivering it as part of their individual coaching programme at all the main commercial centres, such as David Lloyd and Esporta, and increasingly at individual clubs as well. Sam Richardson, the LTA’s Coach Support Manager, summed up the new fitness trend succinctly, “...at clubs, people who like the competitive side of tennis normally have leagues and ladders, people who like the social side have club nights and barbeques, and now people who like the fitness side have Cardio Tennis.”
Many clubs have yet to catch the Cardio Tennis fitness wave, however a large number of clubs across the UK and USA are already incorporating Cardio Tennis into their fitness and tennis programmes. Although Cardio Tennis is still in a development phase, its introduction into schools is also being investigated in order to encourage new interest in Tennis.
To learn more about Cardio Tennis and where to find a session go to: http://www.cardiotennis.com/index.cfm or ask about current or future programmes at your own club or tennis centre.