Filled with action photographs to illustrate the exercises and techniques, this book distills contemporary scientific research into easily accessible principles for designing and implementing tennis training programs. Sample programs provide a highly targeted, efficient, practical, and individualized framework for every competitive level, including junior, collegiate, professional, adult, and senior. Science is brought to the court with clarity and precision, informing and transforming on-court performance.
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About the Author
Mark Kovacs, PhD, is a former All-American NCAA doubles title winner and professional tennis player. He has coached many highly ranked junior, collegiate, and professional tennis players and is both a certified strength and conditioning specialist and a certified sprints coach with the U.S. Track and Field Coaches Association. He lives in Birmingham, Alabama. W. Britt Chandler, MS, is a former collegiate tennis player, a National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)–certified personal trainer, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, and a USPTA certified teaching professional. He is also an editorial assistant for Strength and Conditioning Journal. He lives in Lexington, Kentucky. T. Jeff Chandler, EdD, is the head of the department of health, physical education, and recreation at Jacksonville State University. A recipient of the Plagenhoff Award for outstanding sport-science research in tennis, he is also a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine, a fellow of the NSCA, and the editor in chief of the Strength and Conditioning Journal. He lives in Jacksonville, Alabama.
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Enhancing On-Court Performance
By Mark Kovacs, W. Britt Chandler, T. Jeff Chandler
Racquet Tech PublishingCopyright © 2007 Mark Kovacs, W. Britt Chandler, T. Jeff Chandler
All rights reserved.
Importance of Training
Tennis is a popular sport worldwide played by millions of people from all walks of life, and at many different levels. The physical training required for tennis players to succeed at a high-level has become a major component of an athlete's program. To play tennis at a competitive level certain standards need to be achieved in all the major physical components including strength, power, speed, balance, coordination, and endurance.
Over the past 30 years tennis has developed from a sport based predominantly on strategy, timing and finesse, to a sport dominated by power, speed, and strength. As a result many sports scientists have been researching methods to help train tennis players in the lab and on the court. The major purpose of Tennis Training: Enhancing On-Court Performance is to bring over 300 tennis-specific scientific studies to the coaching community to help the coach, strength and conditioning specialist, trainer, physical therapist, medical doctor, and parent develop the tennis athlete's fullest potential.
Training tennis players requires the successful, yet complex, interplay of tactical, technical, physical and psychological components. The physical components are the focus of this book, and the goal is to outline the major physical aspects to successfully train competitive tennis players. Extensive review went into combining well-researched scientific studies with practical coaching know-how to develop a comprehensive guide to tennis training.
This book has been written by three tennis experts who combine years of academic knowledge with real-world practical coaching to truly blend the art and science of tennis performance. Dr. Mark Kovacs combines extensive playing experience, which includes a top 100 ITF junior ranking, winner of a US "gold-ball," competing in many international tournaments including the US and Australian Open before attending Auburn University where he was an All-American and NCAA doubles champion. After playing professionally he pursued his graduate work performing tennis-specific research. He has combined researched scientific evidence in his coaching profession both as a high level tennis coach as well as a strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) training hundreds of high school, collegiate, and professional athletes. He has previously been the director of a sports performance company as well as the director of education for one of the largest health and fitness certification and education companies.
Britt Chandler has a master's degree in exercise science from Auburn University and played collegiate tennis. He is certified as both a strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) and certified personal trainer (NSCA-CPT). He also is a certified tennis coach through the USPTA. He currently works as both a tennis coach and strength conditioning specialist with some of the top juniors in the country. Britt is also the editorial assistant for the Strength and Conditioning Journal and has contributed book chapters and presentations on tennis specific research and training.
Dr. Jeff Chandler has over 20 years experience as a tennis researcher and sports science consultant, advisor, and author for many tennis organizations including the USTA, USPTA, ITF, STMS and PTR. He has over 100 scientific publications, book chapters, and presentations relating to tennis training and performance. He is currently Department Head of Health, Physical Education & Recreation at Jacksonville State University, Jacksonville, Alabama, and is the editor in chief of the Strength and Conditioning Journal published through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Dr. Chandler is certified with distinction as both a CSCS*D, and NSCA-CPT*D. He is a Fellow in the American College of Sports Medicine (FACSM) and a Fellow in the National Strength and Conditioning Association (FNSCA).
This book has a systematic structure with the introductory chapters providing the basic terminology of training and the principles needed to understand tennis physiology. These introductory chapters lay the foundation for the remainder of the book. The following chapters combine a review of tennis literature on nutrition, strength, speed and agility and flexibility with practical exercises, drills and programs.
Tennis athletes looking to reach their full potential deserve to be trained using the most up-to-date techniques which have been scientifically proven to improve performance. It is the responsibility of the coach or trainer to increase their knowledge and impart this knowledge in a successful evidence-based program to help the athletes achieve their fullest potential.CHAPTER 2
Principles of Developing Training Programs
There are numerous "principles of training" that apply to the sport of tennis. Many times, the "principles" overlap or use different terms to mean the same thing. This chapter will cover the essential principles of conditioning that can be used to design conditioning programs for tennis players. Planning conditioning programs for tennis athletes is not an exact science. As more research is done, we must continually re-evaluate our training recommendations. Only then can we make the best decisions on how to condition tennis athletes.
For the sport of tennis, there are a variety of principles that relate to maximizing athletic performance. Some of these principles are soundly backed in the scientific literature, and some are backed by tradition and experience. The goal should be to develop scientific principles of conditioning that are backed by scientific literature. Practical experience, tradition, and the observations of coaches certainly play a role in our decision making. In the end, however, if the observations are correct, the concepts will eventually be supported by scientific research. Where current research is not available, the knowledge gained from research on other sports can have value to the tennis athlete.
Tennis involves many aspects of performance, including but not limited to strength, power, speed, agility, flexibility, and muscular endurance. Training to maximize performance in all these areas simultaneously is a difficult task. These principles of training provide guidelines the player can follow to increase the chances of receiving maximum benefit from training. Avoiding these principles may lead to overtraining, overuse injuries, or simply the failure to reach optimal levels of performance.
Prescribing an exact exercise prescription is important to maximize performance while at the same time minimizing overuse injuries and overtraining. All of the following principles are possible factors in designing an exercise program. In addition, these factors apply to all aspects of athletic preparation, not just the physical conditioning program.
Adaptation is the process the body goes through causing improved functioning of a specific system in the body in response to a training load. The principle of adaptation states that the body will adapt and improve with the appropriate application of stress (exercise) to the body. For example, when a tennis player practices serving, the muscles used in the serve are adapting and improving in their ability to perform that specific task. Adaptation is specific to the imposed demand of the activity, which will be further discussed as the principle of specificity.
Loading is an important principle of training. The principle of loading also overlaps the principle of specificity, as the training loads should be specific to the sport of tennis. To maximize athletic performance, the body must be "loaded" at a frequency, intensity, or duration higher than the level to which it is accustomed. To build strength, the athlete must be challenged to lift loads heavier than the loads they lift in daily activities. To improve sprint performance, the athlete must be required to run at high speeds.
The "down side" is that if the load is too great, overuse injuries or overtraining may be the result. The goal of training tennis athletes is to maximize performance while minimizing the chance of overtraining or injury. At the highest level of performance (i.e., professional athletes), the goal is to keep the total workload as high as possible without increasing the chances of injury or overtraining. The workload that produces maximum adaptation will likely be very close to the workload that produces overtraining. Obviously, there is a fine line between the two, indicating a need for accurate exercise prescriptions and accurate assessment tools to measure both overtraining and the workloads that produce maximum performance.
The adaptations that occur to the human body due to imposed exercise stress are specific to the nature of the applied stress. In the sport of tennis, specificity may be partially determined by a number of factors including but not limited to the style of play, the level of play, the style of play of the opponent, the surface, and the environment. It is important to realize there are two distinct aspects to specificity — metabolic specificity and mechanical specificity. Metabolic specificity refers to training the primary energy systems as they are used in the sport. Mechanical specificity refers to training specific movement patterns in the way they are used on court.
Metabolic specificity should include the length and intensity of the work intervals as well as the length of the rest intervals. Based on the length of the points, particularly on fast surfaces, it would appear that tennis is primarily an anaerobic sport with the aerobic energy system involved in recovery between points (1). The key is to train each system taking into consideration how it is used in the sport of tennis.
Training should proceed from less specific training in the off-season to becoming progressively more specific as the competitive season approaches. Aerobic training, primarily performed in the off-season, should begin with building an aerobic base with longer distance, slower paced training and progress to an in-season phase where aerobic training consists of repeated bouts of sprints with sport-specific work/rest intervals. Interval training eventually transitions to sprint training with work/rest intervals similar to the actual work/rest intervals in the sport. Although interval training and sprint training is not "traditional" aerobic training, the aerobic energy systems are active during recovery. This nontraditional aerobic training is likely more specific to tennis (2).
In a periodized training plan, specificity should be used as a general guideline in determining the length and intensity of training bouts. If you determine the average duration of a point for a particular player to be 6 seconds, for example, and the average rest interval to be 22 seconds, this does not mean that all work intervals should be exactly 6 seconds and all rest intervals should be exactly 22 seconds. Some training bouts will be longer, and some shorter. Some training bouts will be more intense than a typical point, some will be less intense. By training both over and under the time interval/intensity, the player can improve metabolically to prepare for both shorter and longer points.
Mechanical specificity involves using the muscles specific to they way they are used on the tennis court both in terms of movement patterns and movement speeds. Each stroke involves explosive power from the legs, trunk, and upper extremity. The lower extremity movement prior to the stroke is generally explosive (trying to reach the ball). After the stroke, the movement is generally slower as the player returns to the appropriate position on the court to return the next shot.
Velocity of movement is an important part of mechanical specificity. In order to improve velocity in sport specific movements, training should be intentionally fast. Purposefully slow movement will not provide a stimulus to improve movement velocity. Research has demonstrated that using heavier training loads increases force output, and lighter loads with maximal acceleration increases power output (3). Sports that place high demand on power and strength should perform resistance training exercises at a velocity similar to what is required in their sport. Following a periodized plan for improving tennis performance, strength training with heavier loads should be performed early in the training year. As the competitive season approaches, resistance training should be performed explosively during the concentric phase with light to moderate resistance.
Training specificity has been shown to improve strength and power in athletes from a variety of sports (4). Weightlifters and handball players demonstrated greater strength and power than distance runners and untrained athletes. This suggests that long-term training for sports produces adaptations specific to each particular sport.
Sprint and agility training also causes specific adaptations. One study demonstrated there is very little transfer of performance from speed to agility (5). Athletes who trained using straight line sprinting improved their speed, but there was little improvement in agility or change of direction speed. Likewise, the athletes who trained doing agility drills improved their agility but showed little increase in speed. While speed is important in tennis there are few if any times when a tennis player will reach maximum speed on the court. Points consist of quick changes of direction and rapid acceleration and deceleration. This study suggests that tennis players should focus more on agility and change of direction sprints rather than maximum speed sprinting.
In the sport of tennis, intensity of training strongly relates to specificity. It is not just the lengths of the points and rest intervals that are important, but the effort or intensity during that time. The purpose of a training program should be to improve performance at the intensities that are specific to the sport of tennis. The intensity of all training sessions is important, whether the athlete is training with a medicine ball, resistance training, or on the court.
Heart rates can be used as a general measure of cardiorespiratory intensity. The specificity principle would state that the heart rate profiles in training should be specific to the heart rate profiles in match play. Because the rating of perceived exertion (RPE) is correlated to heart rate, a rating of perceived exertion can be potentially valuable in determining the intensity of tennis play. No matter what method is used to measure the intensity, tennis points involve relatively high intensity bouts of energy expenditure for a short period of time, followed by an approximate 20-second rest interval. By using sport specific training intensities, we are most likely to produce the greatest increases in sport-specific performance.
Volume is the total training load and should include both on-court and off-court training. Monitoring the volume of training along with the intensity is the best way to monitor the total training workload and help prevent overtraining. The volume of training will be individualized to the extent that specific players have specific weaknesses they should work on. The volume of off-court training will be highest in the preparation phase, and will gradually decrease as the competition phase approaches. The volume of on-court training will begin relatively low in the preparation phase and gradually increase as the competition phase approaches.
The frequency of training is the number of training sessions per day or per week. As with volume, the frequency of off-court training should vary with the goals of the individual tennis player. Frequency of training depends on the desired outcomes of the type of training involved. For gains to occur in strength and power, a training frequency of 3-5 days per week is generally recommended. Highly trained athletes may be able to train at higher frequencies. In some instances, athletes during certain phases of training may train several times a day.
It is important to consider the total workload involved in each mode of training. As one mode of training is increased, the frequency of other types of training should be adjusted appropriately. This is important to decrease the possibility of overtraining the athlete and to maximize the specific desired results.
The frequency with which an athlete participates in a series of conditioning exercises per unit of time is considered the density of training. Density describes the relationship between the work and the recovery phases of conditioning expressed per unit of time. Perhaps one of the most overlooked factors in exercise prescription is the length of the rest interval between sets and between exercises. Density then is a description of the compactness of the bouts of exercise per unit of time. The appropriate density for a particular sport like tennis will vary depending on the type of training and the phase of training. The work/rest intervals in a typical tennis match provide some useful information in this regard. Appropriate density promotes maximal sport-specific performance. Appropriate density provides the optimal stimulus for improvement and the appropriate amount of time for recovery while maximizing the potential for improving performance. One method of monitoring the density of training is to monitor the recovery heart rate. In this method, the next work interval begins when the heart rate falls below a specific rate. As the athlete becomes more fit, he can begin the next work interval sooner, thus increasing the density and the total work performed in the training session. This method can be used with tennis players to determine when to start the next drill or the next bout of a conditioning exercise. Ideally, a heart rate monitor would be used for this to be a practical method of monitoring training density.
Excerpted from Tennis Training by Mark Kovacs, W. Britt Chandler, T. Jeff Chandler. Copyright © 2007 Mark Kovacs, W. Britt Chandler, T. Jeff Chandler. Excerpted by permission of Racquet Tech Publishing.
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Table of Contents
ContentsChapter 1 Importance of Training,
Chapter 2 Principles of Developing Training Programs,
Chapter 3 Energy Sources for Tennis Programs,
Chapter 4 Nutrition & Hydration for Optimum Tennis Performance,
Chapter 5 Flexibility Training & Tennis Performance,
Chapter 6 Flexibility, Warm-Up, & Cool-down Programs for Tennis 81,
Chapter 7 Resistance Training & Tennis Performance,
Chapter 8 Resistance Training Programs for Tennis,
Chapter 9 Cardiorespiratory Endurance & Tennis Performance,
Chapter 10 Cardiorespiratory Fitness Programs for Tennis,
Chapter 11 Speed, Quickness & Agility,
Chapter 12 Speed, Quickness, & Agility Drills,
Chapter 13 Training Progression: Linking Training to on-court Drills 193,
Chapter 14 Physical Testing for Tennis Performance,
Chapter 15 Periodization,