Why Are Tennis Players Not Muscular? The Truth

When you think of professional athletes, you might imagine muscular, bulky figures that can overpower their opponents with sheer strength. However, if you take a look at tennis players, you’ll notice that they don’t fit this stereotype. Tennis players are lean and agile, but not necessarily muscular. So, why is that?

There are several reasons why tennis players aren’t as muscular as other athletes. Firstly, tennis requires a lot of endurance and agility. Players need to be able to move around the court quickly and efficiently for hours on end, which would be difficult with bulky muscles. Apart from that, tennis players need to maintain a certain level of flexibility in order to perform their best on the court. Heavy muscle mass can actually hinder this flexibility, making it harder for players to move and react.

Genetics and Body Type

While training and diet play an important role in an athlete’s physique, genetics and body type also play a significant role in determining muscle mass and overall body composition.

Research has shown that certain genes, such as ACTN3 and ACE, can influence muscle fiber type and have been linked to strength and endurance. The ACTN3 gene, for example, provides instructions for making a protein called alpha (α)-actinin-3, which is predominantly found in fast-twitch muscle fibers.

However, it is important to note that genetics are not the only factor that determines an athlete’s body type. Body type, or somatotype, is also influenced by factors such as bone structure, limb length, and metabolism.

In tennis, the most common body types are ectomorphs and mesomorphs. Ectomorphs are typically thin with smaller bone structures and lower propensities for gaining muscle mass. Mesomorphs, on the other hand, have a more muscular build and are able to gain muscle mass more easily.

While mesomorphs may have an advantage in sports that require strength and power, such as weightlifting or football, being lean and agile is more advantageous in tennis. This is why many tennis players, regardless of their body type, tend to have leaner physiques compared to athletes in other sports.

Training and Exercise

Why Are Tennis Players Not Muscular

Cardiovascular vs. Resistance Training

Tennis players require a combination of cardiovascular and resistance training to perform well. Cardiovascular training helps improve endurance and stamina, which is essential for long matches. Resistance training, on the other hand, helps build strength and power, which can improve shot accuracy and speed.

It is safe to say that tennis players should not focus solely on resistance training as this can lead to bulky muscles that can impede movement on the court. Instead, they should focus on building lean muscle mass through targeted exercises that improve specific muscles needed for tennis.

Muscle vs. Endurance Training

When it comes to training, tennis players should focus on a combination of muscle and endurance training. Muscle training helps build strength and power, while endurance training helps improve stamina and endurance.

For muscle training, tennis players should focus on exercises that target the specific muscles used in tennis, such as the shoulders, arms, and legs. Examples of muscle training exercises include bench presses, dumbbell curls, and lunges.

For endurance training, tennis players should focus on exercises that improve cardiovascular fitness, such as running, cycling, and swimming. Endurance training should be done in conjunction with muscle training to ensure a well-rounded fitness routine.

As you can see, tennis players should focus on a combination of cardiovascular and resistance training, as well as muscle and endurance training, to perform well on the court. By targeting specific muscles needed for tennis and building lean muscle mass, tennis players can improve their performance without becoming too muscular and impeding their movement on the court.

Also Read: Why Tennis Players Are So Skinny

Diet and Nutrition

Tennis players need to fuel their bodies with the right nutrients to perform at their best on the court. A balanced diet that includes whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats is essential. Carbohydrates are also best for providing energy during matches and training. Protein is crucial for muscle building and repair, but it is not meant to be the primary energy source on the court.

Tennis players should aim to consume around 1.2-1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. Good sources of protein include lean meats, fish, eggs, dairy, and plant-based sources such as beans, lentils, and tofu. In addition to protein, tennis players need to make sure they are getting enough vitamins and minerals. Vitamin D is important for bone health and can be obtained from sunlight, fatty fish, and fortified foods.

Calcium is also important for bone health and can be found in dairy products, leafy greens, and fortified foods. Vitamin B-12 is necessary for red blood cell production and can be found in animal products, while plant-based sources include fortified cereals and nutritional yeast. Omega-3 fatty acids are important for brain and heart health and can be found in fatty fish, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts. Iron is necessary for oxygen transport and can be found in lean meats, beans, fortified cereals, and leafy greens. Zinc is important for immune function and can be found in lean meats, shellfish, and fortified cereals. Iodine is necessary for thyroid function and can be found in iodized salt and seafood.

Tennis players should also make sure they are staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water before, during, and after matches and training sessions. Sports drinks can also be helpful for providing electrolytes and carbohydrates during long matches or intense training sessions. It is important to avoid sugary and processed foods, which can cause energy crashes and affect performance.

Injury Prevention and Management

Tennis players are susceptible to various musculoskeletal adaptations that may interrupt their optimal biomechanics, resulting in possible injuries. Myofascial training is one way to address the player’s biomechanics of movement, muscle coordination, and muscle force production. Apart from that, a tennis-specific strength and conditioning program can play a key role in preventing common injuries in tennis players.

Some common injuries in tennis players include:

  • Tennis elbow
  • Shoulder injuries
  • Lower back pain
  • Knee injuries

Preventing these injuries involves strengthening the muscles used in tennis and improving overall flexibility. For instance, strengthening the rotator cuff muscles can help prevent shoulder injuries. Strengthening the core and hip abductor muscles can help prevent lower body injuries. In addition to this, proper alignment, strength, and range of motion in the chest, shoulders, and upper back can prevent elbow and wrist injuries.

If an injury does occur, it is essential to manage it properly to prevent further damage and ensure a speedy recovery. Rest, ice, and compression are often used to manage acute injuries. Physical therapy and rehabilitation exercises can help with chronic injuries. In some cases, surgery may be necessary.

Overall, injury prevention and management are crucial for tennis players to maintain their optimal performance and avoid long-term damage. By incorporating myofascial training and a tennis-specific strength and conditioning program, players can reduce their risk of injury and stay on top of their game.

Check: What Racquet Does Ash Barty Use


While some may wonder why tennis players aren’t muscular, it is clear that the sport demands a different type of physique. Tennis players need to be lean, fast, and agile to move around the court for hours on end. Heavy muscle mass would only complicate this process and hinder their performance. Instead, tennis players focus their training on muscles that are specifically needed for tennis, such as those used for serving, hitting forehands and backhands, and moving quickly around the court.

It is also important for tennis players to maintain their endurance and flexibility, which can be negatively impacted by excessive muscle mass. Being able to move quickly and change direction on the court is essential for success in tennis, and a bulky physique can make this difficult.

The thing is that, it is a common misconception that having bigger muscles will give tennis players more power in their shots. However, this is not the case. Power in tennis comes from proper technique, timing, and footwork, not from having large muscles.

However, while some may equate muscularity with athleticism, it is clear that in the sport of tennis, a lean and agile physique is more advantageous. Through targeted training and a focus on endurance and flexibility, tennis players are able to perform at the highest level and achieve success on the court.

Recent Posts