Archive for tennis training

Overhead drill with a Twist.

Posted in Z.S. Tennis with tags , , , , , , , , on July 14, 2011 by zenithstrength

At Zenith Strength we are constantly thinking about ways to get more creative to help our athletes improve.

My brother who is a tennis coach mentioned that most players have issues with the proper footwork for the overhead.

After watching some of Eric Cressey’s med ball drills that he does with his pitchers, I came up with a variation for our tennis players.


In the video below, David Hsu is working on his cross over step as it relates to the overhead, drops back and throws a weighted 12oz med ball to work strengthening and  his motion and developing more force. The ball weighs slightly more than the average tennis racket is about the size of a baseball. You can get these at power-systems

We generally do this after some band resisted cross over steps to take advantage of the neuro muscular stimulus the band tension provides.

Train Hard!




Review of Bullet Proof Knees and Back Seminar

Posted in Z.S. Training with tags , , , , , , , , on April 20, 2011 by zenithstrength

When I heard about the Bullet proof Knees and Back seminar that Mike Robertson put together and released on DVD, I jumped at the opportunity to pick up a copy and learn  from one of the top strength coaches in our industry. Mike is one of the best  when it comes to getting clients/athletes healthy from nagging injuries and then working with them to improve athletic performance.

The product is extremely thorough covering functional anatomy, hands on assessments, tons of coaching cues for the exercises that Mike uses and he also goes over program design. Furthermore, all the information in the dvds are research and evidence based so you are getting the latest and most effective ways to attack knee and back pain.

One of the most valuable parts of the seminar is that you get a chance to assess movement in a practical manner. Its one thing to sit down and listen to a lecture about what to look for regarding movement assessments and a whole different experience to get to assess a person on-screen  and let your eyes get used to seeing specific issues with Mike guiding the whole process.

In addition to the detailed static and dynamic assessments that Mike explains both in lecture and the hands on session, the coaching and cues for the exercises that he uses for low back and knee pain is extremely informative.

Many of the exercises aren’t new but its the detail in coaching them, exercises such as tall kneeling and half kneeling rows or pallof presses and getting clients into  proper hip extension position to engage the hips and lower abs/obliques.

Here are my three “A HA” take home points  from the seminar.

1. Respecting the assessment process in regards to how the athlete/client likes to move. Instead of trying to figure out everything, m observe what patterns the client uses to execute movements. For example in prone hip extension if the back extensors or hamstrings “light up” instead of the glutes make a note of it instead of jumping to conclusions right away.

Mike also does dynamic assessments in addition to the isolative assessments to get a complete picture on how someone moves.

For example if some tests tight in isolated ankle dorsiflexion the overhead squat test should also show if someone has ankle mobility issues as well. Based on the isolative dorsiflexion test with legs straight and knees bent you can start to figure out if you need more soft tissue work to address the calves or the soleus.

2. The goal of balancing stiffness of muscle groups to decrease pain which works in conjunction with the comprehensive assessment. Once you know what muscle groups are stiff and doing too much and what muscles need to be strengthened then you have a plan to attack the imbalances and get the client out of pain. There are many ways of attacking the issue of quad dominance. For example, using SMR techniques and hip dominant single leg movements and hip mobility stuff, Mike likes to use the hand grenade approach and attack an issue with as many tools as possible.

3. The importance of  diaphragmatic breathing and the effect it has on posture as well as core activation.

This is something that Charlie Weingroff has also talked about as well in regards to core training. Basically you should be able to do a front plank and side plank and breathe into your belly aka diaphragmatic breathing. If you can’t do this you don’t as Charlie puts it “own your core”. The standard is a 2 min front plank and  90 sec side plank.

Mike discusses the same thing regarding breathing into your belly and also talks about the negative effects chest breathing has on posture and issues with the neck, upperback and forward head postural stuff.

Proper breathing patterns is a topic that many coaches and PT’s have started to delve into and needs to be considered when dealing with comprehensive program design of the client.

If you’re a strength coach you need to have the Bullet Proof Knees and Back Seminar in your training library.

Check it out here.

Stay healthy,


Speed Training for Young Athletes

Posted in Guest posts, Z.S. Tennis, Z.S. Training with tags , , , , , , on February 8, 2011 by zenithstrength

Sometimes as coaches we forget to adapt our coaching styles based on the age and development of the our clients.

Here’s a guest post video from Dave Gleason regarding training youth athletes in the 6-10 year old range and developing key skills such as coordination, agility, mobility and stabilization while keeping the session fun. It definitely gets you thinking about changing some things around training younger clients.

Check out the video:

For more info on youth training check out the IYCA.

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 for Young Athletes

Posted in Guest posts, Z.S. Training with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 13, 2010 by zenithstrength

Today’s post is a guest post from Eric Cressey of Cressey performance located in Boston. His take on speed and quickness training for young athletes was dead on and I had to share it.

Check it out here.

Cressey brings up some great points in his post about preparing athletes i.e. improving mobility, stability and strength before performing tons of agility and deceleration drills. Due to the high amount of forces on the joints during sprinting which can be up to 4 -6 times body weight, the body must have adequate strength to be able to decelerate and absorb the forces without injury to the knee-joint.

Check out his video as he discusses the absolute speed to absolute strength continuum and explains that you must build a solid strength foundation and build upon that to create a faster/quicker athlete.

Building stronger, faster, quicker athletes takes time and involves a progression of building stability and strength. Some kids may be more ready than others to begin different movement drills, but adding these drills to a young athlete who isn’t prepared for it is an injury waiting to happen.

In Strength,



Tuesday Training at the Facility

Posted in Xtreme Tennis Conditioning, Z.S. Tennis, Z.S. Training with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 3, 2010 by zenithstrength

Here’s a glimpse of the workout from Tuesday the 28th of September working with the tennis players from Eagle Fustar full-time program.

We have top players training including, Eric Johnson who is ranked in the top 30 Nationally in the boys 18’s, Jelena Pandzic just got to the finals of a WTA pro event several weeks ago.

In the video we are working single leg  and hip stability with the RDL’s. We have started to incorporate the slideboard for lateral mobility and strength. In this case, we use the band around the knees to force the  hip to stabilize the front leg while sliding into a lateral lunge and also strengthening the abductors and adductors of the sliding leg.

We also have the athletes work on shoulder stability with the push up plus strengthening the serratus anterior to stabilize the shoulder blades.

We finish off with heavy prowler pushes to work on improving acceleration strength and teaching the athletes to drive into the ground with big strides.

We will be posting more training videos coming up soon.

In Strength,


Single Leg Variations for Tennis

Posted in Xtreme Tennis Conditioning, Z.S. Tennis, Z.S. Training with tags , , , , , , , , on September 19, 2010 by zenithstrength

The necessity for single leg training in your program is undeniable if you are an athlete. Think of the how many movements involve one leg contacting the ground while the other leg is in the air.

After reading  Advances in Functional Training by Mike Boyle, and reading a lot of Mike Roberston’s articles  looking into the rationale of single leg work I agree with the trend that is shifting towards implementing more single leg work.  That doesn’t mean we don’t integrate any bilateral work either. We still have our athletes trap bar deadlift and squat but no matter how much you squat or deadlift if you’re not implementing single leg work in your training, you are never going to reach your athletic potential.

We use many variations and we classify our single leg exercises as knee dominant and hip dominant. Some of the exercises overlap and involve a little of both.  We like reverse lunges, split squats with the back foot elevated, lateral lunges, walking lunges, and single leg Romanian dead-lifts to name a few.

However, for  even more variations and progressions, Josh Henkin has come up with some creative ways to challenge hip stability and single leg strength.

Check out his video.

Some of these variations are advanced progressions  and don’t look as easy as he makes them look. Give them a try to change-up your single leg routine. You should see a big difference in your lower body strength, stability and an improvement on the playing field.

In Strength,