Basic Principles of a Training Program for Developing Strong Junior Tennis Players

I continue to write about developing of top junior tennis players. We discussed this topic in the article How much should a junior tennis player train?

Let’s continue to learn about common recommendations about basics of training program for creating of top junior tennis players. These recommendations are based on International Tennis Federation (ITF) standards for junior tennis players.

Periodization

A training program is organized based on a periodization principle and the player’s age, standard of ability, physical readiness and fitness level as well as the planned tournament schedule.

The volume of training relates to the amount of work performance, the intensity of how hard the players work and the frequency of training. During training, players are exposed to various levels of intensity. The organism adapts to the level of intensity by increasing physical functions to meet the training demand.

Intensity is measured by: load, kilos, and speed, while volume is measured by: duration (time), distance (meters), repetitions (numbers and sets). Based on these physiological changes, especially the heart rate, the coach may detect and monitor the intensity of a training program.

To develop aerobic and anaerobic fitness levels, the training program should be organized in various levels: 60-100% of intensity workout. The final classification of intensity on basis of heart rate is suggested by sports scientist Nikoforov (1974):

Zone           Type of intensity                             Heart rate-1 min
1                   Low                                                     120-150
2                   Medium                                              150-170
3                   High                                                    170-185
4                   Maximum                                           185-

Experts from physiology of exercise and biomechanics proposed the intensity levels as follows:

Stage          Level of intensity                              % of maximum H.R.
1                   Low intensity                                         Below 60%
2                   Medium intensity                                  65-85%
3                   High intensity                                        85-100%

During exercise, maximum heart rate can be calculated by subtracting your age in years from 220. I.e.: 220 – age = maximum pulse rate per minute

Training session plan for a developing top junior tennis player

It is a small planned training work load (for Intermediate/ Advanced players, 2 – 3 Hours). The total duration and the contents vary according to: the goal of the session and the previous and the following load. The coach can decide the characteristics of training referring to the methods and means of training to be employed per each session. The structure of a training session consists of:

1. Introduction, 3-5 minutes

The coach explains the aim of the session, the contents of the training and the expectations concerning the work load according to the player’s needs.

2. Warm up, 30-45 minutes

Warm up can be split into general and specific parts. The purpose of warm up is to prepare the whole organism, physiologically and psychologically for the high load of the main part(s) and to prevent injuries.

General warm up: Starting slow and easy jogging to high short sprint and followed by proper stretching exercises.

Specific warm up: On the tennis court starting easy (rally eye, hand co-ordination, more control, consistency, etc.) from the service box to the whole court (baseline, at the net), executing all basic shots.

3. Main part of the tennis training, 60-120 minutes maximum

The main objectives and goals of the training program should be put into practice in the main part(s). There can be one, two or even three main parts of the session, depending on the tasks the coach wants to carry out during the training session.

The total duration of the main part(s) can be about 60 -120 minutes maximum. Generally, this part contains technical, tactical and fitness training programs or a mixture of all training programs.

3.1 Technique: If the technique training is the goal of the training session, technique has the priority to be put into the beginning of the main part. New techniques and correction of technical faults can be performed only with low-medium intensity physical effort and when the player(s) are not yet tired.

3.2. Technique and tactic: In this part, main emphasis is on the tactical aspects of the practice. According to the players’ level of standard, the coach can design from basic to specific drills, points (with different rules), different games and match practices etc.

3.3. Physical fitness: In the main part which is aimed to improve the general or specific level of the physical conditions can be organized by the coach based on the phases of training on court, of f court, gymnasium, fitness program and other sports (soccer, basket ball, hockey, hand ball, etc.) as a variety and to make the training session interesting, challenging and to have fun.

4. Cool down, 5-10 minutes

Starting with a slow and easy jogging and followed by excellent stretching exercises. This part is very important and will help the body temperature gradually return to normal and prevent tightness, soreness, etc.

Roger Federer's fitness

5. Conclusion, 3-5 minutes

The final part of the training session is evaluation of the training work out. A brief evaluation of the work as an additional form of interaction, the problems, successes or difficulties that arose, should be openly discussed. The coach should always avoid a situation whereby a player leaves the training session with negative feeling or emotions.

As you see, the duration of a workout for a strong tennis player is about 2 – 3 hours. Pay special attention to part 2, the warm up. It must take at least 30 minutes. If your tennis coach does not pay attention to that, you can be like me. I always bring my kid 30-40 minutes early and he warms up under my supervision. Look at this post for details Warm up and cool down are vital parts of tennis training.  

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