Ask The Doc
Why do I need to have endurance on the court if the distance I run for each shot is short?
Tennis is classified as an ‘anaerobic’ sport, i.e., each individual point is of relatively short duration and each run during the point is of a short distance. However, tennis is also classified as an ‘aerobic’ sport, meaning that the number of points and runs is large and recovery between each point is required. Therefore, stamina or endurance, is one of the 4 “S’s” of complete conditioning for tennis.
There are 2 aspects of stamina/endurance. The first is the ability of the heart (circulatory system) to efficiently provide oxygen to the tissues. This allows the muscles to efficiently use the oxygen to do the work required in each point and over the length of the match, so you can be almost as “fresh” at the end of the match as you were at the start. You can still run to the ball, hit it and last as long as necessary in the rally. The second aspect of stamina is perhaps even more important- the ability to recover between points. This allows the body systems to replenish energy and strength rapidly and efficiently, to be ready to play the next point, game and set. Both aspects need to be trained - like the other “S’s”, you can’t completely achieve maximum stamina/endurance just from playing. Also, stamina/endurance is more dependent upon hydration and fuel for optimum function.
Multiple types of exercise, including running, bicycling, rowing, aerobics, weightlifting and swimming, will elevate the heart rate to the desired level to achieve the training load to improve stamina. The best training for tennis usually involves some type of running or lower body exercising because it closely mimics the challenges in tennis. A common method of conditioning for tennis would include alternating jogging and sprinting (for stamina/endurance) with walking (for recovery), with the work/recovery time ratio of 3:1. Because of the amount of time and effort in stamina/endurance training, warm up and cool down is important. Adequate stretching should be performed and a gradual increase in exercise intensity should occur.