In addition to endurance and strength, good tennis fitness requires a lot of explosive power. You need to have strong legs, hips and core to load, coil and uncoil into the shot. Kettlebells are excellent tool to train your hips, core, legs, shoulder stabilizers and endurance simultaneously. Performing the basic kettlebell swing will get your heart rate high up, almost as high as running 8-minute mile.
Basic Kettlebell Swing for Better Tennis Fitness
Before you start swinging, you need to find a kettlebell that is not too light for you. If it is too light, you may develop bad habits, such as using your arms too much and “muscling” the bell up and down. Yet, you don’t want to have the bell too heavy so you cannot develop a good technique. Women can start with 26 lbs and quickly transition to 35 lbs. Men can start with 35 lbs and transition to 45 lbs, or just do more repetitions. A basic swing with 35 pounder for 35 repetitions gets pretty tiring.
Make sure your chest and chin are always up. Focus your eyes on something far in front of you and don’t lose that thing from your focus during swinging. Keep your lower back neutral or slightly arched. Your stance is wide and the kettlebell hanging between your legs. Bend your knees slightly, push your glutes back and then with a powerful explosive movement of your hips forward (like you want to hit an imaginary wall with your hips), catapult the kettlebell upward. Your arms and hands should remain as relaxed as possible. Hold the bell loosely. Then let the bell descend with a free fall, don’t resist it with your arms. As it is going down, stick your glutes out and immediately explode into another powerful thrust.
Under no circumstances let your chest collapse or bend in your hips. Keep your posture always erect. If you do your hip snap correctly and powerfully, you will feel a little “shake” of everything on the front side of your body. That’s a good thing! Keep swinging until you develop smooth and effortless technique. You will feel how your glutes and hamstrings are working intensely. Your forearms and grip will get stronger as well.
If you handle the basic swing well, you can proceed to a one-handed swing, and you can switch the hands on the top of the movement (the kettlebell’s apex). This will teach you to have your hands relaxed, because if you grab the bell too tight, it is difficult to get the timing of switches right. As you proceed to more advanced stage, you can flip the kettlebell with underspin or overspin at the apex, with both hands or one hand.
In the following video, observe the nice erect posture, relaxed hands, and the power of the hips. A regular kettlebell swinging will improve your tennis fitness dramatically! Watch another video of a more advanced tennis fitness kettlebell swinging.
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