Objective: Tennis requires speed, agility, and explosive power. Few studies have assessed the effects of a training program in junior players who are not on an elite or national level. We evaluated the impact of a program that combined components of a knee ligament injury prevention program with other exercises to improve athletic performance indicators. We hypothesized that this program would significantly improve dynamic single-leg balance and function, correct lower limb asymmetry, enhance speed and agility, and improve core endurance.
Methods: Forty-two players (31 females, 11 males; mean age, 14 ± 2 years) participated in the 6-week program conducted by a tennis professional and certified trainers. Each training session included a dynamic warm-up, jump training, strength training, and tennis- specific agility and hitting drills. Two single-leg hop tests, baseline and service box speed and agility tests, a 1-court suicide run, and an abdominal endurance test were conducted at baseline and 3 days after the last session. Fifteen athletes participated in more than one training program a mean of 9 months apart.
Results: In all 42 players, statistically significant improvements and large-moderate effect sizes were measured for speed, agility, dynamic single-leg balance, and abdominal endurance. Players who participated in multiple programs continued to improve, although the magnitude of the improvements was smaller than those obtained from the first training program. There were no differences in the percent of improvement in any of the tests between genders.
Conclusions: The program improved neuromuscular and athletic performance indicators in junior tennis players. Repeated training for continued improvements is justified as required or desired by the player. The program is appropriate for pre-season training for high school players or before the initiation of seasonal tournament play.