Match fit

Last week it was time to dust off the racket bag and see if we could remember how to hit a ball over a net. We went to play tennis.

Having been running, doing yoga and swimming, a mix in of tennis was going to be good thing. Until we realised after a couple of rallies that a) not only we were rubbish at tennis again, having last played about 9 months ago, but b) we were not match fit.

Running for miles at a steady pace, or even a shorter route at a faster pace has totally different fitness needs to a game of tennis. I loved playing tennis when I was younger and spent all summer at the school courts and all winter at Saturday morning tennis coaching. But I’ve played less as I’ve been on my travels and living here, there and everywhere. Then Martin and I started played in Buenos Aires. It was great because although we have very different strengths on the court, we’re quite evenly matched. Sometimes I would win, sometimes he would: the game was always worth it.

Until last weekend. The score is irrelevant (oh, go on then, I won) but what was interesting was the fact were knackered and breathless after a few rallies. Having to dart around the court for a few shots left us panting more than we thought it would. The pause between points got longer as we laughed at ourselves. The short, explosive bursts required in tennis are just not what we’re used to with our long running or swimming sessions.

What to do? Well, we need some match fitness practice and especially speed work which will no doubt help our overall fitness and not leave us bent double after a few points. Here are some ideas I remember from tennis club at school. Ah, the days of those drills…

  • Ball retrieval: put some balls randomly around the court and sprint to get each one and back to the base line in between. I emphasis the point of sprinting. Not for joggers!
  • Shuttle sprints: running from the base line to the service box line, back and then to the net and back and so forth. Again, as fast as you can. (In class we would race against each other and try not to puke.)
  • Blind ball: this was a favourite of my tennis coach when I was 14. You stand with your eyes shut and back to the net on your half of the court. Your partner throws or hits the ball with a shout of “Go!” and you open you eyes and run to get it as quickly as possible. Yes, you guessed it, sprinting. Repeat until knackered.

old tennisThinking about all this, I am now marvelling at my younger self, a middle distance runner with tennis match fitness. Ah, those were the days. I wonder if, even before my time, they worried about these things? Something tells me it wasn’t a priority for tennis ladies like this one. You would be more worried about tripping over the skirts before even reaching the ball in the first place.

Got any match fitness tips? Let us know!


About Laura Alonso

We run. We travel. And to combine both is a beautiful thing. "Runners just do it. They go for the finish line even though someone else has reached it first."

Posted on May 18, 2013, in Running and the body, Training and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. It still amazes me to think that when I was younger I could bike around my whole town about two times if I ever wanted to get anywhere. Now, I don’t think I could bike up my block without having to catch my breath. Thankfully, I have decided to try to get back in fitness and trying to be in better shape than my younger self. My girlfriend and I are dying to play tennis once the weather is nicer. It’s a really fun activity. Best of luck with your running and keep up the blogging.

    • Hi Regular Cup of Joe,

      Thanks for finding us and for the read and comment!

      I am sure there are lots of out there who look back on our younger selves and wonder why we took our fitness for granted! We played tennis again today and I was a bit of a Hitler making us do those speed drills I wrote about; but it worked! Tired legs but happy legs and hopefully some progress if we keep it up.

      Good luck with your fitness plans – if you need any running inspiration we’re here to help 🙂 Am now going to go and have a read on your blog…



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