Maximizing Tennis Performance with Short High-Intensity Efforts

20 de December, 2023

By Nehuén Contreras

Physical efforts in tennis can be classified based on their duration and level of intensity. As intensity increases, the duration tends to decrease, and vice versa. Does it make sense, right?

Endurance, crucial in tennis, involves the ability to sustain specific efforts over an extended period. Improving it means executing efforts for more seconds or minutes or maintaining the same duration with higher intensity.

In tennis, we experience moments of high intensity, such as during a point’s development and, especially, during ball striking. These are interspersed with periods of low intensity, like breaks between points, games, or sets, and walking across the court to restart the game.

Physiologically, tennis resembles a sport of multiple sprints. Energy metabolism depends on exercise duration, the number of repetitions, and recovery time between efforts.

High-intensity actions, such as sprints, direction changes, and strikes, are metabolically linked to energy supply through muscle glucose metabolism and phosphocreatine. Additionally, the oxidative system plays a crucial role in recovery between efforts during matches and between training sessions.

Benefits of Short High-Intensity Efforts in Tennis:

These efforts generate significant adaptations, such as:

  • Improved efficiency of the oxidative system.
  • Reduced contribution from glycolytic and phosphagenic pathways due to oxidative system efficiency.
  • Increased carbohydrate reserves.
  • Greater mitochondrial respiratory capacity.
  • Faster oxygen (O2) consumption kinetics.
  • Higher lactate threshold and maximum oxygen consumption (VO2max).

Applying HIIT in Tennis:

HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) is an excellent tool for developing this quality in tennis players. It involves resisting short, repeated, and successive efforts, improving resistance to intense but fragmented work periods.

Example HIIT session for a tennis player:

  • 1st block: 21 repetitions of 10 seconds of effort, followed by 10 seconds of rest, covering 2 sections of 22 meters. Macro rest of 2 minutes.
  • 2nd block: 14 repetitions of 15 seconds of effort, followed by 15 seconds of rest, covering 3 sections of 20 meters. Macro rest of 2 minutes.
  • 3rd block: 21 repetitions of 10 seconds of effort, followed by 10 seconds of rest, covering 2 sections of 20 meters. Macro rest of 2 minutes.

Do you incorporate fragmented workouts like HIIT into your routine? Were you aware of the benefits compared to continuous running?


  • Martin Buchheit. “Science and Application of High-Intensity Interval Training.”
  • Marcia Onzari. “Fundamentals of Nutrition in Sports.”
  • Jaime Fernández Fernández. “High-Intensity Training, a Tool for Improving Performance in Intermittent Profile Sports.”