It is obvious that tennis at an elite level is a highly dynamic sport, requiring rapid change of direction, total body rotation and specific types of strength.
A top player would be expected to play matches that could go on for four hours or more. This means that the player must have high levels of endurance, to make sure they can last the distance, plus supreme explosiveness to make sure they can run down every ball.
It has been shown at an elite level that top players change direction on average every 1.1 seconds and a match usually contains between 300-600 maximum bursts of effort.
With the average point in tennis being ten seconds long and identifying that the recovery between points is 20 seconds long, this indicates the interval nature of the sport.
With these statistics in mind, it gives you a good base for designing a programme to meet the conditioning needs of a tennis athlete and allows you to explore the specific requirements of the individual, in relation to the demands of the sport.
Every individual has different strengths and weaknesses, which need to be worked on to get the most out of their physique and these concepts need to be linked to the specific core physical elements of tennis.
These five fundamental elements are:-
1. Ability to change direction at high speed
2. First step explosive speed
4. Diagonal/opposite strength
5. Body control
In this section we will explore these elements and show functional drills that help the process of improvement. The conditioning of a tennis athlete is a process which requires both high intensity and high quality work. Therefore the motto that a top athlete lives by is 'train hard, train smart, recover well = best performance'.
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