In order to improve your tennis performance, it is important to physically work hard, but it is just as important to rest and recover hard! Vigorous, prolonged tennis exercise breaks down muscle tissue, fatigues the nervous system and overall places the body under stress. It is during the rest and recovery period that the body gets the positive physical and emotional gains (cardiovascular, strength, mentally, etc.).
If there is an overload of tennis training volume and intensity (level of energy used) with inadequate recovery time between sessions, a player will start to develop, physical, behavioral, and emotional issues. This scenario can be classified as a condition called Overtraining. Overtraining or burnout is a common problem for many athletes of all ages in many sports. It is often seen in young tennis players. Possibly due to the fact that they find it harder to communicate how they are feeling and they are not as in tune with their bodies as adults.
Working with the right volume and intensity (loading) combined with adequate recovery (at least one day off a week from any physical training or tennis exercises) will give players every opportunity to improve and minimize the risk of any tennis training injuries. Symptoms of overtraining for tennis can include; persistent muscle soreness, persistent fatigue, elevated resting heart rate, increased susceptibility to illness, increased incidence of injuries, irritability, mental breakdown, loss of appetite, mood swings, loss of motivation, loss of enthusiasm, loss competitive drive and abandonment of the sport.
For these reasons, associations like the WTA have applied age restrictions that don’t allow players to turn professional until they reach a certain age. Many international federations monitor and plan the junior players' calendars to 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 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 tennis player. Below given are an idea and some guidelines of workload or tennis fitness training volume for tennis players.
|Age||Tennis||Fitness or Other sports||Total|
|6-8yrs||2-3 days 45mins||2-3 days 45mins||3 - 4.5hrs|
|9-11yrs||3-4 days 1hr||2-3 days 1hr||5 - 7hrs|
|12-14yrs||4-5 days 1-2hrs||3-4 days 1hr||7 - 14hrs|
|15-16yrs||4-5 days 2-3hrs||3-4 days 1hr||11 - 19hrs|
|16-18yrs||5-6 days 3-4hrs||4-5 days 1hr||19 - 29hrs|
Here is something we recommend doing quarterly to continually find the right balance. Monitor how a player is feeling on a daily basis. Write down how they feel each day for one month.
It's mandatory that all the players we train complete a training diary that includes the following
- Energy levels
- Sleep quality
You can use a scale of 1 to 5 (5 feeling extremely fatigued and sore and 1 being, feeling fresh and full of energy) once you have the records you can go back and 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 1-3 on the scale. Whether you are a coach, tennis conditioner, player, or parent of a tennis player it is important to get the balance right. Seek advice from qualified professionals (Coaches and Tennis fitness conditioners) and always make sure the player/s have had some form of involvement in the process of determining how long, how often and how intense their tennis training is.
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