If you’re feeling inspired by the players at Wimbledon to pick up a racket, you’re in for some big benefits, from fat burning to muscle toning. Here, we’ve rounded up some tennis tips for beginners, to help you improve your technique and reap the fitness benefits…
As strawberry season begins, that can only mean one thing – The Wimbledon Championships. But tennis isn’t just a sport for elites. If you’re looking to reach a healthier weight and tone up over the summer months, you can’t go wrong by picking up a racket and getting out there – whether it’s on a competition court or in your own back garden.
Health and fitness benefits of tennis
An American study discovered that both men and women who played tennis had a lower than average level of body fat. Happily, to achieve these results, you don’t exactly have to be a professional either. Canadian research on recreational twice-a-week players found they had significantly lower fat levels than age-matched non-players.
And it’s not just your waistline that could benefit. Multiple studies have reported increased heart size and cardio performance in tennis players over the years, while research on bone health has demonstrated significant strengthening effects, even for those taking up the sport in later life.
Starting tennis later in life
‘You can play from eight years old to 80, so long as your health allows,’ says Leon Smith, captain of the Great Britain Davis Cup team. ‘And there’s now new equipment to help beginners learn the game, such as lower compression balls that don’t bounce as high or fast, or smaller sized courts, and various lengths of tennis rackets for helping to control swings.’
There’s never been a better time to start learning tennis as a beginner either, with Nature Valley and the Lawn Tennis Association holding Big Tennis Weekends across the country this summer, allowing people to try the sport for free. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to make a racket…
6 tennis tips for beginners
Try these tennis moves for beginners to improve your technique and get fit this summer…
1. Do tennis ball keepie-ups
These are great for perfecting your technique and strengthening your arm muscles. Hold your racket like a frying pan and bounce the ball on it, with your palm up (the forehand side). Then try the same with palm down, which mimics the backhand stroke. Keep the ball going for as many hits as you can.
MAKE IT HARDER: Keep the ball bouncing on the strings but alternating palm up, palm down between bounces.
2. Try shadow swings
Pretending to hit the ball is a great way for beginners to get used to handling a tennis racket, and will also work your leg, arm and core muscles. It’s also handy if you don’t have much space. The key is not to swing too much – keep it short and compact to improve your control. Start with 30 forehands, 30 backhands and 30 serves.
MAKE IT HARDER: Introduce some sideways and front/back movements to mimic actual game play and boost your heart rate.
3. Find a practice wall
Hitting the tennis ball against a wall will greatly improve your hand-eye coordination and use most of your muscles at once. Outside walls are ideal, and you can always start by using a sponge ball to prevent any marks. Start by standing quite close to the wall and practise forehands, trying to maintain consecutive shots with the ball bouncing once after hitting the wall. Repeat on your backhand side.
MAKE IT HARDER: Try some volleys against the wall, ie no bouncing between shots, which is a brilliant way to improve your reflexes.
4. Copy the pros
Learn by watching some pro tennis on TV or online and study the different strokes and movements of the best players. Then mimic them yourself, copying their footwork as you swing your racket in their style.
MAKE IT HARDER: Bring a ball into play, trying your new moves against a wall or with a friend.
5. Improve your footwork
Being light on your feet and having the ability to change direction speedily are important parts of the game – make like the pros and add skipping into your workout. You can mix around different footwork movements such as regular two feet together jumps, one leg jumps or wide base to narrow base jumps.
MAKE IT HARDER: Move in different directions while keeping the rope going. It’s great for co-ordination and will get your heart pumping.
6. Start serving
Practising your serves is great for getting your heart rate up, working your shoulder and arm muscles, and improving co-ordination. Plus, it’s so absorbing you won’t notice the time slip by. Try this outside. Start with a pile of balls beside you, and place cones or other markers at different distances from you. Now practise trying to serve and hit the different targets, as fast as you can.
MAKE IT HARDER: Position the cones further away, and run ball girl-style to retrieve them before starting your next round.
Words: Lizzy Denning | Images: Shutterstock