Developing the ideal tennis player body is very important because it directly impacts the athlete’s performance; knowing what to strive for may impact your training priorities.


Generally speaking a tennis player should have powerful and well-developed legs, a strong core and a lean upper-body because powerful and well-developed legs allow for a solid base of support and a lowered center of gravity, which improves the athlete’s dynamic stability, agility, kinetic chain efficiency as well as accuracy and power during stroke production.

A strong core is desirable for any tennis player because of its importance during stroke production. For more in depth information on core training take a look at Why Core Training for Tennis Players Is Important.

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The upper-body should be strong yet lean to ensure a fluid motion during stroke production – too much muscle mass can impede upon range of motion, power and destroy the athlete’s “feel for the ball”.

This trend becomes evident: Djokovic, Federer, Murray and Raonic changed their diet and training to become lighter & leaner overall and it was beneficial for their respective styles of play!

The concept basically is that tennis is a running game where excess weight, be it muscle or fat mass, impedes upon your movement and change of direction capabilities.

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Interestingly enough, even though excess weight may slow players down it can improve dynamic stabilization when the center of gravity is lowered within the base of support, which is the case for example with pregnant women.


This may be an explanation for why female tennis players can have excess fat on the thigh and buttocks area yet play tennis very successfully.

The same principle doesn’t apply for male athletes since they tend to store excess body fat above the center of gravity (e.g. belly & love handle) and hence causing a decrease in performance.

tennis player body

“Serena Williams Australian Open 2009 5” by Sascha Wenninger, CC BY-SA 2.0

In other words, there is a trade-off: on the one hand excess weight may slow the player down but on the other hand enhanced dynamic stability has a positive effect on stroke production accuracy and agility.

The body as a whole should be well balanced with regards to flexibility and strength because that allows us to optimize energy transfer and power while minimizing the risk for injuries.

To learn more about it take a closer look at How Flexibility Impacts On-Court Performance.

What Dictates Desirable Body Composition?

Roger Federer

Roger Federer

One major component that influences desirable body composition is the style of play of the athlete (e.g. baseliner, serve-and-volley, etc.) because it influences movement patterns and energy system contributions.

For more information on body composition, style of play and how to improve footwork take a look at Tennis Footwork: How Important Is It?

Training Zone

In this section we provide you with some more workouts you may be interested in to optimize your training:

Before you start your workout you may want to warm up to prepare yourself and minimize the risk for injuries.


Content crafter at Tennis Conditioning. You can find me on the ITF/WTA/ATP tour coaching tennis players or online writing about tennis, strength & conditioning, exercise science or health-related issues. Champions find a way, losers find excuses!

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