Because we are strength and conditioning professionals, we feel we must always have our athletes perform drills, but do we factor in the drills and reps they get on the court?
Seriously! Consider how many times a tennis player moves laterally, changes directions, accelerates, and decelerates. It’s a ton!
If we have these players do more reps of the same skills they just performed during practice, are we hurting them or helping them?
I am a low-risk, low-volume, high-intensity coach.
I would rather pick one skill I know offers the least potential CNS fatigue and joint stress and do it with high intensity and very low volume. Especially during the season or heavy off-season practice times.
For example, If I can have my tennis players perform 2-days per week of 3-5 sets of 10-yard sprints with 90s-2min recovery- I’m good. The key is, they have to sprint 100% effort. We are talking about roughly seven steps that made 100% effort 6-10 times per week. That 42 to 70 hard pushes!
The key to programming is knowing your numbers. Know the total number of reps your players are performing during a training drill. Know the “system-load” as well. Is it more concentric, which is easier for the joint system and physiological system to recover from? Or is it eccentric in nature where the joints and physiology take a beating and now demands more time to recover?
The biggest fear we all have is we are not doing enough to get a training effect. We have to stop worrying about this and start knowing our numbers.
When a tennis player practices, they are stressing the system. Depending on how hard the practice is, meaning how much they run side to side, change directions, and accelerate after short balls, we have to account for those reps.
We can make adjustments in a few ways. We can lower the total volume. We can reduce the eccentric deceleration demands, and we can increase the overall rest periods to allow for more recovery. If we blindly add more reps to their weekly total, we increase the total system’s overall stress.
Players can over-come from doing less if they have tactical and skill-set proficiency, but they can’t compensate for being over-trained and physically damaged.
As S&C coaches who work with tennis players, we have to work very hard to stuff our ego in our back pockets and allow our common sense to be at the forefront. Using the excuse, “This is how we’ve always done it,” is a great way to get your tennis players injured and you fired! Be supportive of their needs more so than your ego to test your training exercises.