Guidelines To Avoid Overtraining In Tennis

While it’s important to work hard physically to improve your tennis performance, it’s equally important to dedicate the same attention to rest and recovery. Vigorous, prolonged tennis exercises break down muscle tissue, can fatigue the nervous system and overall, place the body under stress. It is during the rest and recovery period that your body receives the positive physical and emotional gains. These can include cardiovascular, strength and mental improvements.

An overload of tennis training volume and intensity (level of energy used) with inadequate recovery time between sessions can lead to physical, behavioral and emotional issues in a player. This scenario can be classified as a condition called “overtraining”. Also known as burnout, this is a common problem for athletes of all ages in a range of sports.

Overtraining can be particularly prevalent in young players – possibly explained by the fact that they find it harder to communicate how they are feeling and are not as in tune with their bodies as adults.

Working with the right volume and intensity combined with adequate recovery (at least one day off a week from any physical training) will give players every opportunity to improve and minimize the risk of any tennis training injuries.

Symptoms of overtraining can range from persistent fatigue and muscle soreness to mood swings, loss of motivation and even quitting the sport completely.

For these reasons, associations like the WTA have applied restrictions that don’t allow players to turn professional until they reach a certain age. Many international federations monitor and plan the calendars of junior players to help them avoid burnout. How long, intense and often a player practices, trains, and plays tournaments is very much an individual thing. We are all built slightly differently and therefore need to be treated differently. There is no generic perfect ratio; it is what works best for each individual, young or old. What is important is to work out what the right balance is for each player.

The following activity is one we recommend that players and their coaches, trainers or parents undertake quarterly to help achieve the right balance in tennis training.

Monitor how a player is feeling on a daily basis, writing down how they feel each day for one month. Using a scale of 1–5 (1 being, feeling fresh and full of energy; 5 feeling extremely fatigued and sore) the areas to be included are energy levels, sleep quality, nutrition/hydration and motivation.

This will become a record that will help you compare the results to the volume and intensity of certain periods of the month. Look to make changes to keep the athlete consistently around a 3 on the scale.

Whether you are a coach, player or parent of a player it is important to get the balance right. Seek advice from qualified professionals (such as coaches and tennis trainers) and always ensure the player/s have had some form of involvement in the process of determining the length, frequency and intensity of their tennis training. By helping players avoid burnout, you’re helping them become a considerably more complete player too.

The table below provides an idea and some guidelines for workload or tennis fitness training volume.

AGE

TENNIS FITNESS or OTHER SPORTS TOTAL

6-8 yrs

2-3 days 45 mins 2-3 days 45 mins 3-4.5 hrs

9-11 yrs

3-4 days 1 hr 2-3 days  1hr

5-7 hrs

12-14 yrs

4-5 days 1-2 hrs 3-4 days  1hr

7-14 hrs

14-16 yrs 4-5 days 2-3 hrs 3-4 days  1hr

11-19 hrs

16-18 yrs 5-6 days 3-4 hrs 4-5 days  1hr

19-29 hrs

 

 

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