Due to the extensive wrist action required in tennis play, the forearm muscles can be easily overstressed, leading to injury at the elbow or wrist joints. The forearm machine provides five separate wrist movements to effectively condition all of the forearm muscles. Few exercises are better suited to tennis players, especially for increasing grip strength and reducing injury potential.
If you don't have access to this training device, an excellent alternative exercise is the wrist roller. Simply attach a five-pound weight plate to a two-foot rope and tie the other end to a round wooden dowel. Holding the dowel in both hands, alternately turn your wrists clockwise to wind the rope around the dowel and lift the weight. This action addresses your forearm flexor muscles. When the weight touches the dowel, alternately turn your wrists counterclockwise to unwind the rope and lower the weight. This action works your forearm extensor muscles.
If you play tennis three or four days per week, then it is probably best to do your strength training on two or three non-tennis days. That permits plenty of recovery time after each activity. If you practice tennis every day, your strength training should probably be performed about four hours after your tennis training for best overall results. For example, if you play tennis every morning from 9 to 11, you may schedule your strength exercise around 3 p.m. Two or three equally spaced strength training days are
recommended for most practical purposes.
Remember that skill training is the most important factor in improving your tennis game. However, physical conditioning can certainly enhance your tennis playing efforts and outcomes. The cornerstone of physical conditioning is muscular strength, and a stronger tennis player should always be a better tennis player.
Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D., is fitness research director at the South
Shore YMCA in Quincy, MA., and author of several books including the new releases Building Strength and Stamina and Strength Training Past 50.
©2001 Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D. all rights reserved