The average tennis player finding success at the professional level is a bit on the thin side compared to many athletes. Although there is a need for quite a bit of power in the game, carrying around too much bulk seems to be negative.
This is why the best players try to keep weight off as much as possible.
1. Improved Speed and Quickness
To succeed in tennis, a player must be able to have outstanding speed and quickness. Not only is there a side-to-side movement, but players need to move forward and backward depending on the shot.
The best way to have outstanding speed and quickness is to be lean. The more mass a player has, the more energy that’s required to move the body.
Tennis players do need to have some muscle weight on them so that they can move around with speed and quickness. However, having excess fat on the body is only going to make life more difficult.
No matter what style of play is preferred, tennis is a very tiring game. There have been many cases even at the pro level where a better player loses the match because they can’t keep up their level play. Players always need to be focused on improving their endurance.
Skinny tennis players tend to have more endurance than those carrying a little extra weight. Playing tennis at a high level helps with endurance, but training usually pushes athletes to the next level.
Even shedding a little bit of weight can be the difference between making it through the entire match and feeling gassed.
Endurance is more than just being able to play on a particular day. For example, at the professional level, a player needs to have the endurance for two weeks of outstanding play at a grand slam event.
On the men’s side, they have to play best-of-five sets for each match, further putting pressure on their endurance.
3. Leverage on Shots
The average person might think that a skinny tennis player has no chance of creating power. The strongest athletes in the world tend to be bulkier and able to lift a ton of weight.
Tennis players can’t be rail thin, as they do carry some muscle on their body. However, some of the hardest hitters are tall and skinny. They hit hard thanks to their fast swing motions, strong legs, and leverage.
With the right technique, any tennis player can hit the ball hard. it’s all about getting on top of the ball and driving through with torque. This means rotating the hips and the shoulders, all while swinging the arm(s) at the right time.
Skinnier players will be able to accelerate through the ball a little bit easier. It might not seem like it makes that much of a difference, but mass usually slows the swing down slightly.
Even though there might be more power behind the shot from a bigger player, the skinnier player can make up for it with acceleration.
Healthier athletes are not going to carry around extra weight. With every extra pound added to the body, that’s more stress on the joints.
Injuries can be very random at times, but in-shape athletes tend to have longer careers. That doesn’t necessarily mean a player needs to be extremely skinny, but most tennis players have that build if they are cutting weight.
There have been many cases in professional tennis where older players dedicated themselves to getting in better shape so that they can play at the highest level.
A few examples include Mardy Fish, Andy Roddick, and Marion Bartoli. They were able to revitalize their career by dropping weight and getting healthier overall. In the majority of cases, players notice a difference.
Healthy athletes have a chance to add years to their careers. This means more money that can last a lifetime. Younger players can get away with bad habits, but older players start to see that they can’t share weight without eating a healthy diet and training properly.
5. Muscles In The Right Areas
If tennis players are skinny in the upper body, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are skinny everywhere else. For example, the average tennis player seems to have fairly big leg muscles comparatively speaking.
Not only do the legs help move players around, but they create power for certain shots. It’s still important to train the upper body some, but tennis players will make their living with their legs.
Not every player can add muscle as easily as others to their legs. Indeed, legs can still be very powerful, even if they don’t look like they are. It’s all a matter of working out and training to add useable muscle in the right areas.
Leaner players are almost always going to be more flexible. This is very beneficial in the game of tennis, since players are constantly reaching for shots and moving their bodies around to get the right positioning.
It’s not that rare to see tennis players go into the splits for a shot that’s just out of reach. It takes incredible flexibility to do this, and being lean helps out.
7. More Confidence
Finally, there’s something to be said about having more confidence in any sport. If a player feels like they’ve done everything they can to be in outstanding shape, they can go into a match with more confidence knowing they can last for a long time.
Having a different mindset as a tennis player can make a huge difference. Players who don’t feel like they are in the best shape can start to doubt themselves and push when they shouldn’t. It can be a very tough hole to climb out of.
Nothing is more intimidating in tennis than a player who’s bouncing around and ready to go deep in a match. When a tired player sees this, it can make them feel as though it’s impossible to come back. No one likes that feeling.
Are All Tennis Players Skinny?
Most people will notice that the top men’s professional tennis players are relatively skinny. However, on the women’s side, being as skinny as possible isn’t always beneficial.
Players like Serena Williams, Kim Clijsters, and Lindsay Davenport are not considered traditionally skinny. They were all very fit during their prime, but they found ways to utilize their specific body type for additional power.
Other players have attempted to do this as well, as it can be very beneficial for a women’s player. They might sacrifice a little bit of speed carrying around extra weight, but the power does more.
You can learn more about why tennis players aren’t muscular in this post.
Will Tennis Players Always Stay Skinny?
It seems like tennis is evolving to the point where players are getting taller and leaner than ever before. During long rallies, it’s important to be thin and in shape to survive point after point.
As long as players aren’t losing too much power, staying as skinny as possible is always going to help out. There might be a happy medium in between, but tennis players are leaning out and growing in height.
Different body types still have a chance to excel, but carrying around too much extra weight is generally a recipe for disaster in tennis.