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Join The Resistance

Murray© AFP/Getty ImagesAndy Murray incorporates resistance bands into his training at Queen's.

They may look like a humble piece of equipment, but don’t be fooled by the seeming simplicity of resistance bands. The versatile bands provide many advantages to players on the ATP World Tour and offer an effective workout in any environment.

Resistance bands, which are colour coded by levels of elasticity, enable players to exercise with varying levels of resistance in the location of their choice; one of the main advantages of adding them to a workout regimen, according to Todd Ellenbecker, Director of Sports Medicine for the ATP World Tour. “With one band, you can resist at multiple levels of resistance,” says Ellenbecker.

In addition to its convenience, the resistance bands can be applied to tennis-specific applications. Unlike a machine in a gym, such as a leg press, where one would only be working on a single plane, the bands allow tennis pros to resist specific motions and movements they use on court. World No. 4 Andy Murray often utilises the bands when practising his shot-making, helping decrease the level of exertion required to produce a compact groundstroke.

“In the case of Andy Murray, if he’s practising moving to his forehand using an open stance with the resistance of the band, he overloads the muscles using the band with that exercise,” explains Ellenbecker. “When he goes to do that movement without the resistance of the band, he’ll be able to do it faster and with less effort because he’s been practising it with the resistance.” 


How To Use Resistance Bands

Along with Murray, Ellenbecker has seen several top players work out with the bands, including Novak Djokovic, Marin Cilic, Fernando Verdasco and Milos Raonic. “A lot of players use them on the court for these specific movements, like Murray’s doing. We see them putting loops around their ankles, doing the ‘Monster Walk’ which are little side shuffles in different directions to get their hips and core strong.

“We also see them off the court, like at Indian Wells and some of the other tournaments where they have large workout areas. We see the players working their shoulders with them, their forearm and scapular muscles after they play to kind of fatigue their arms and build some strength in their upper back and shoulder area.”

The bands are also highly beneficial in rehabilitation programs, providing safe workouts. “With the band, all you have to do is stand closer to the attachment point or use a lighter band. It allows the physical therapist and athlete to get the ideal amount of resistance for the injury,” Ellenbecker says. “Often times during rehab, we’re trying to be sure we protect the injury and not work it out at too high a level. The bands can be used very safely.”

Don’t Overdo It

Though the bands can be used by anyone, from recreational players to Grand Slam champions, Ellenbecker cautions using too much resistance, a common error. “So many people think they have to use a black coloured band because it’s big, thick and they feel heavy resistance. They use too much resistance, especially in the shoulder, elbow and forearm,” clarifies Ellenbecker.

“The top players will use lighter bands and do more repetitions. If you use too heavy a band, it alters the movement a tennis player wants to do – they’ll run more like a sprinter or a lineman coming out of a stance trying to push a guy down because the resistance level is too heavy. That’s not the way you move on a tennis court.”


If looking to add resistance bands to your workout program, Ellenbecker highly recommends, Thera-Band, which supplies product to the ATP. The company makes it easy for the average consumer, colour-coding their bands by levels of resistance. “Each of the colours are calibrated. With Thera-Band, you always know what you’re going to get," Ellenbecker says. 

"Whereas you might have another company that says, we have this purple band that gives medium resistance. You never know what medium means. It’s kind of like jumbo shrimp… you don’t really know how big jumbo shrimp are. Thera-Band is widely used and is an industry leader. Certain standards exist because of Thera-Band.”

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