By Bill Wright
||7” x 9”
||ISBN: 978 0-936070-50-6
We first published this book in 1983. Our goal was to include tennis in the “fitness revolution” that was sweeping the country at that time. The most popular aspect of this new attitude was cardiovascular fitness. Hence the question for tennis players was, “Can playing tennis raise my heart rate?”
Shortly after publication of Aerobic Tennis, Dr. Bob Arnett of NBC invited me to New York City during the U.S. Open to demonstrate Aerobic Tennis. He wanted to know if his heart rate could be substantially raised by playing tennis. Dr. Bob and I did an experiment on the stadium court at the West Side Tennis Court. The idea was to compare typical aerobic exercise routines with using tennis for an aerobic workout.
I asked Bob to raise his heart rate on his own by running the stairs of the stadium and sprinting along the court. He ran for 3 or 4 minutes and we measured his heart rate. He rested to get his heart rate back to normal. Then we went out on the court with a basket of balls. I had him play points with no rest in between for 3 or 4 minutes. I pushed him: making him run, jump, and stretch for balls simulating a vigorous and energetic game of tennis. Then we measured his heart rate, and voila! His rate was substantially higher than when he ran the stadium stairs. Plus he had more fun!
That afternoon of tennis was noted by the United States Tennis Association: they endorsed a “Cardio Tennis” program among their membership and successfully sponsored “Cardio Tennis” classes at hundreds of clubs across the United States using tennis to improve aerobic fitness.
There’s more. Tennis can do more than improve cardiovascular fitness. Tennis is the perfect form of interval training, with ebbs and flows of activity and rest. In this it’s similar to the fartlek method of training developed by Swedish distance runners, which utilizes bursts of vigorous activity followed by rest.
Tennis offers other fitness benefits. Strength is developed when you try to increase racquet head speed on serves and ground strokes. Your balance is tested when you hit a ball, and then must return quickly to retrieve another one. Only the most agile of athletes is able to respond to hitting a ball at different heights and speeds from unpredictable and challenging positions.
We were ahead of our time in the ’80s. Now, some 28 years later, “Cardio Tennis” is a well-known concept, and it utilizes the exact same principles that are in this book.
We’re happy to present this concept again and hope that Aerobic Tennis will show you how to maximize physical fitness while engaging in the sport you love. This wholesome game challenges you athletically, so turn the athlete inside you loose! You can become a pitcher, a shortstop, a goalie, and a sprinter. Let your imagination run wild!