Fitness Training

The following training drills are included in this section:

Flexibility Training

Speed & Agility Training

Power Training

Strength Training

Endurance Training

Altitude Training

The sport of tennis involves many aspects of performance, including strength, power, speed, coordination, agility, flexibility, and endurance. Training to maximise 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. Violation of these principles may lead to overtraining, overuse injuries, or simply the failure to reach optimal levels of performance.

Adaptation is the process the body goes through to improve the functioning of a specific system in the body in order to meet the demands placed on it. The principle of adaptation states that the body will adapt to stresses that are appropriately applied.

The Czech team in training

Running long distances causes adaptations to occur to the heart, lungs and lower body musculature to improve running performance. Similarly, in tennis when a player practices a serving, the muscles used in the serve are adapting to improve their ability to perform that specifc task.

Training at too heavy loads may impair performance and lead to overtraining or lead to overuse injuries. In order to improve VO2 max, the athlete should exercise at a level that challenges their ability to consume oxygen. To build strength, the athlete should be challeneged to lift loads heavier than the loads they lift in daily activities.

To maximise athletic performance the body should be "loaded" at a frequency, intenisty or duration higher than the level to which it is accustomed.

The difficult part is trying to design a training programme that does overload the athlete's body without causing overtraining or overuse injuries. Therefore, it is important to accurately assess the workloads that produce maximum performance without increasing the risk of injury.

The principle of specificity states that the adaptations that occur to the human body when exposed to exercise stress are specific to the type of applied stress. One should consider specificity within a variety of physiological parameters. What is specific for one player may not be a specific for another.

Just as a midfielder and a goalkeeper train differently in soccer, so should a serve-and-volleyer and baseliner train differently in tennis. Specificity of training essentially means that the training should be both metabolically and mechanically specific to the demands of the sport of tennis.

The physiological demands are specific to the style of play, the level of play, the style of play of the opponent and the court surface.

Metabolic specificity includes the length and intensity of the work intervals, and the length of 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.

So with both the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems playing a role, the key is to train each system specific to the sport of tennis.
Mechanical specificity involves using the muscle specific to the way they are used on the tennis court. This can best be characterised as power endurance, as it consists of repeated bouts of power output over an extended period of time.

Each stroke involves a burst of power of the legs, trunk and upper extremity. Depending on the situation, some amount of sprinting/running is required of the lower extremity prior to and after each stroke.

Intensity of training strongly relates to specificity. It is not the length of the points and rest intervals that is important, but the effort or intensity during that time.

The purpose of a training programme should be to improve performance at the intensities that are specific to the sport of tennis. Heart rate can be used to measure intensity.

The specificity principle would state that the heart rate profiles in training should be specific to the heart rate profiles in matchplay. Furthermore, since the rating of perceived exertion (RPE) is correlated to heart rate, a RPE can be potentially valuable in determining the intensity of tennis play.

Volume is the total amount of training, and should include on-court and off-court training. Monitoring the volume of training along with the intensity is the best way to monitor total training workload and hopefully monitor overtraining.

The volume of training will be individualised to the extent that specific players have specific weaknesses they should work on. The volume of off-court training will be higher in the preparation phase, and 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 can be the number of training session per day or per week. As with volume, the frequency of training should vary with the goals of the individual as well as the period of training.

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 recommended, although highly trained athletes may be able to train at higher frequencies.

The principle of variety appears to conflict with specificity. The key is to select a variety of exercises within the limits of specificity. For example, within the realms of “anaerobic sprint training”, a variety of footwork patterns can be prescribed.

By using a variety of exercises or drills, sessions are made more enjoyable and players are less likely to become bored. They are more likely to be more motivated and improve their performance in the given area they are training.

The principle of recovery states that the player should allow time for recovery in order to continue to improve. Without the appropriate recovery time, the player will not adapt to the stress of training, and will possibly experience overtraining or overuse injuries. With too much time for recovery, the player will not adapt at an optimal pace and therefore is unlikely to reach maximum performance.