By Ryan Griffin CSCS, CTPS, USAW
Today we’re talking about hips and butts. It’s crucial to keep in mind when developing a strength and conditioning for a tennis athlete because these are the muscles that prevent the valgus rotation of the knee during the loading phase of the leg. Valgus rotation of the leg is the internal rotation of the knee, which not only predisposes the athlete to injuries concerning the knee but also lowers the efficiency of applying force into the ground. Training these muscles are part of appropriately training the posterior chain. We know female athletes have more quad dominant tendencies than their male counterparts so any exercise to strengthen the posterior chain should be prioritized in particular to a female strength-training program.
I want to talk about a couple of exercises I incorporate into my training programs for my tennis athletes to make sure the hips are being appropriately activated. Most if not all of the exercises involve a hip band. These can be purchased at most sporting good stores or how I get them is through Amazon. Be mindful of the volume and intensity you implement these exercises. If the hips are too fatigued, it will exacerbate the very issues you’re trying to prevent. I like to get the athlete to feel a good burn in the hip but nothing long and sustained. The focus should be on activation before match play. So I would choose just one of the exercises
- Clamshells– Take a hip band and place it directly around both knees. Lying on your side with your knees up to your chest, simply push out on the band keeping your feet together. For more of a challenge you allow not keep your feet together and move the entire leg away from the midline or you can get a higher tension band. Perform 2 x 15 each side
- Banded Lateral Walks– Take a hip band and put it below and around both knees. I like to uses the knees for some athletes because it reinforces keeping the knees pushed out and firing that glute med! In an athletic position walk laterally pushing on the band with every step. Make sure to keep tension on the band throughout each step and to never let the feet come inside of the athletic stance. To make it harder use a higher tension band or put it around the ankles or middle of the feet. Perform 2 x 12 yards Down and back.
- Lying Lateral Leg Raise– very similar to a clamshell only the legs with be straight and the band will be around the ankles. Lying on your side with your hipbone pointing to the ceiling, raise your toe up towards your shin and down towards the floor and then raise your leg up and down. Make sure to keep tension on the band. Perform 1 x 20 each side
Thanks for reading! If you have questions about these exercises or other tennis specific exercises please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.