There’s fit, and then there’s tennis fit. Biking, lifting weights and other gym work are great, but a player also needs to address the specific conditioning demands of the sport. Developing the intermittent sprint ability and stamina required to endure the rigors of a match necessi- tates more exact training. Additionally, it’s key to be able to track and test progress to assess improvement.

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Frances Tiafoe chases down ball at Wimbledon 2021

Frances Tiafoe chases down ball at Wimbledon 2021

One such workout to measure court speed and endurance is the MK Drill. It’s the brainchild of high-performance coach Mark Kovacs. While researching his Ph.D. in exercise physiology, Kovacs needed a simple on-court test to evaluate tennis-specific endurance. He devised this drill and has gone on to use it with many of his athletes. It’s essentially a series of sprints, with rest times reflecting the amount of work being performed.

Here’s how it works:

Setup

All that’s needed is a tennis court and a stopwatch. If a court is unavailable, simply set up two markers 12 yards (36 feet) apart the distance between two doubles lines—for a suitable substitute.

Execution

The player starts in an athletic stance just behind the doubles sideline and facing the other doubles sideline on the same side of the court. Once the timer starts, the player sprints across to the other doubles side line and then sprints back. This constitutes one repetition.

Design

Repetitions are performed in a ladder format. This means the player will add another repetition with each round. After each round, the player takes an allotted amount of rest which correlates with the amount of work. The series of sprints increases up to six repetitions in a round. Then the player works back down the ladder until performing a single repetition, which finishes the drill. As the number of sprints performed decreases, so does the rest time.

Results

Forty-two repetitions will be performed in total. With the distance constant and rest time fixed at 11:45, total running time will be dependent on the speed of the work periods. A good target for a competitive adult player would be under 17 minutes. But whatever your time, it serves as a point of reference to continually track and beat.

Rest Time Chart
REP
REST TIME
1
15
2
30
3
45
4
60
5
90
6
120
6
120
5
90
4
60
3
45
2
30
1
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