Archive for tennis speed

3 Strength Exercises to Improve Linear Acceleration

Posted in Z.S. Basketball Training, Z.S. Tennis, Z.S. Training with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 11, 2011 by zenithstrength

Just about every sport involves short bursts of acceleration, whether it’s a wide receiver getting off the line of scrimmage to run a route or a tennis player chasing down a drop shot, an athlete’s ability to accelerate is one of the most important factors that determines success on the playing field. The bottom line is that you must put a tremendous amount of force into the ground to propel yourself forward. In order to do this you must work on getting stronger. In addition to strength training, another key component is teaching the proper mechanics of acceleration making sure that the athlete is pushing into the ground versus sliding the foot back.

Joe Defranco has a great article on acceleration mechanics and some great cues on teaching the start of the 40 yard dash and explains importance of getting full hip extension during the acceleration phase.

At Zenith Strength we use many different tools to improve linear acceleration of our athletes.

Here are my 3 favorite exercises to strengthen the lower body and improve first step acceleration.

1. Heavy Forward Sled Drags and Heavy Pushes

Heavy sled dragging and sled pushing should be a staple in your program if your goal is to improve starting strength and leg drive.

Both movements teach hip extension and enable the athlete to put force into the ground to improve their hip extension strength.

They also put  the athlete at a 45 degree angle which is the position you want to be in when accelerating.

You can also combine the sled work and get a drag push combo. I got this idea from Joe Defranco a few years ago.

Below is a video of the drag/push combo.

2. Split Squats with the rear foot elevated.

Split squats are a fantastic exercise to build single leg strength in the quads, glutes and hams in the weight room.

The rear foot elevate split squat (rfess) is the go to strength exercise used by  Mike Boyle, Joe D and Martin Rooney, some of the best coaches  in the industry,  for developing strength for linear acceleration. They work with some of the best athletes in the world and when they talk about what works for them you have to pay attention!

Here’s a video of Ben Bruno doing some RFESS with 75lb dumbbells and a weighted vest.

3. Woodway Force Resisted Sprints

The Woodway Force is a fantastic piece of equipment found and used by top collegiate programs and training facilities  to build acceleration power as well as top speed leg turnover.

We can set the load, which is the resistance, to teach the athlete to drive back to propel them forward and really work on improving their hip extension power output.

We will use a load that is 10-20% of the athlete’s body weight and have them sprint for 5 secs and rest 30 secs sometimes longer to make sure they are fully recovered during our power workouts. You can adjust the duration and rest periods depending on the sport you;re training for.

If you don’t have access to one you  can also uses resisted bands around the waist.

Here’s a video using the Woodway force .


Try these exercises out and you should notice an improvement in your ability to accelerate.

Train Hard!



Lateral Quickness Drills

Posted in Z.S. Tennis, Z.S. Training with tags , , , , , , on August 18, 2011 by zenithstrength

Lateral quickness and the ability to change direction and cut is a necessary skill in order to perform at a high level on the playing field. Unfortunately many strength training programs don’t address lateral stability and strength.

Below is a list of a  few of the exercises we use at Zenith Strength to improve lateral movement and quickness

Band Resisted Turn and Go


Cut stop change of direction.


Cross over sprint with change of direction.

Give these a try and let me know if you notice improvement with lateral quickness and cutting.

I’ll post some videos of some of our favorite  strength exercises for lateral movement that we use to supplement our speed training next week.

Train Hard!


Highlights from Thursday’s Training Session

Posted in Athlete's Accomplishments, Z.S. Basketball Training, Z.S. conditioning, Z.S. Tennis with tags , , , , , , on November 21, 2010 by zenithstrength

Today’s post is video highlight of one of our collegiate tennis players from the Eagle Fustar full-time program who shows that female athletes are just as explosive as their male counterparts and can jump out the roof provided they get the right training to maximize their genetic gifts.

She is only 5ft 2 inches and easily cleared the 30 inch box.

She then followed that up with a 36 inch box jump which is over half her height. Keep in mind that she is only 62 inches tall!

Enjoy the video.

More good stuff to come.

Train Hard!


The Power of Hip Strength

Posted in Z.S. Basketball Training, Z.S. Tennis, Z.S. Training with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2010 by zenithstrength

In my coaching experience the number one factor in determining athletic prowess is power output or force production. The athlete who can produce higher amounts of force into the ground is going to accelerate and hit top speed much quicker than the weaker less explosive counterpart. Since acceleration is essentially the “name of the game” when it comes to success on the playing field why is it that most strength programs fail to integrate or acknowledge hip strength into the training programs?

I was guilty of making those same mistakes. I avoided many heavy hip extension exercises apart from forward sled drags, squats and deadlifts. I’m not sure why I did that but you learn from mistakes and eventually design a better program and continue on the path to becoming a better coach.

There are several technical factors that go in to improving acceleration but for the sake of this article we will focus on hip strength.

Let’s get into a little anatomy to better understand the function of the glutes mainly glute max and what can potentially happen if the glutes aren’t doing their job.

Glute max is the primary hip extensor.

Together with the hamstrings they drive the leg into extension during acceleration and work with the hamstrings to maintain top speed while sprinting.

Glute medius is involved with hip ab-duction which is bringing your leg out to the side.

However, the glute medius is also a pelvic stabilizer and helps with hip alignment and the alignment of your femur.

For example, if your knee comes in chances are you are internally rotated at the femur and hip and your glute medius isn’t doing its job as a stabilizer. Now think about how often you spend time on one foot while running, jumping, playing your sport. If the glute medius isn’t functioning or is “shut off” you are at risk for a whole slew of potential issues including knee tendinosis and low back issues as well.

The bottom line is that glute strength is important for many reasons including hip extension strength for increased acceleration strength and stabilization of the pelvis.

Below are my favorite exercises to work on increasing glute strength for improved power output as well as improving stabilization of the hip and knee.

1. The weighted bridge and hip thrust are two of my favorite exercises for glute max activation and strength. I learned about these exercises from Bret Contreras. The hip thrust is a great progression from the traditional bw bridge from the floor. It is basically a full range version of the bridge. Once you can rep out at least 1 set of 50 bridges you are ready to add weight to the exercise.

2. The one legged bridge or Cook hip lift. Once you have got the hang of two-legged bridges it’s time to challenge single leg hip stability and strength.

The Cook hip lift accomplishes both by activating glute max but also the hip stabilizers to keep the pelvis level at the point of hip extension. You can also add a tennis ball in the crease of you hip so you can get isometric hip flexion work on the opposite leg while working on hip extension, which is basically what happens while running.

You can then progress to single leg hip thrusts which essentially a full range version of the Cook hip lift.

3. Monster or X band walks.

These are great for strengthening the glute medius and will help with hip and knees stability for lateral movements and also knee issues as well.

Add these exercises in your strength program and you should see an improvement with your vertical jump and acceleration speed.

Speed Training Using Bands

Posted in Z.S. Basketball Training, Z.S. Tennis with tags , , , , on August 10, 2010 by zenithstrength

Bands are a great tool to use improve 1st step acceleration and quickness. Since the tension increases as the band lengthens, this forces the athlete to accelerate against the resistance.  We often follow band resisted drills with body weight shuffles and sprints to take advantage of the nervous system stimulation. The athlete will be able to explode and accelerate much faster following band resisted work.

The video below is a compilation of band resisted drills we use for our tennis players.

You can vary the movements depending on the sport the athlete plays.

Try some of these moves and watch you quickness improve.

Train Hard!