Proper Warm-Up and Cool-Down
Training for Tennis Speed is all about maximum effort and intensity, so a proper DYNAMIC warm-up (no static stretching in the warm up!) is ESSENTIAL as your muscles will be working at full capacity.
The rate of muscular contraction is very high during speed training so if you don’t take the time to warm up properly you really run the risk of injury.
The same can be said of the cool-down period after training.
The excessive contractions tend to shorten the muscles and produce waste products as the session progresses so you MUST performf a proper cool-down as this will help to stretch the muscles back to their original resting length and eliminate the presence of the waste products such as lactic acid.
Your cool-down should be similar to the warm-up except the warm up should start slowly at low intensities and build up whereas your cool-down should the be exact opposite (gradually slowing down) finishing with some static stretching.
A proper warm up and cool down will also significantly reduce the amount of muscle soreness that will occur a day or so after the session.
Never Train Just in Straight Lines
Let’s think about how you play for a minute! As a percentage, write/scribble rough answers down to the following questions! How often do you move forwards? How often do you move backwards? How often do you move sideways? How often are you moving forwards (say towards the net) but side-shuffling (basically a sideways movement)? What about going backwards for a smash (tip – you should be positioned sideways for this shot)? Do you get the picture? Do you understand what I am trying to point out? Hopefully the answer is yes, but if not, here it comes!!
You can see from the above that many, many situations occur during the course of a match that require a multitude of movement types, BUT very few situations call upon you to run forwards as though you were sprinting to catch a bus!
So why would you choose to do your speed training in this way?
It’s just not specific is it?
If you were training for the 100 metres then straight line running is acceptable, but for tennis (and most other sports), you have to learn how to move quickly in many directions.
Straight Line training has its place in your programme but should NOT be the ONLY type of speed training you do!
Only Train Over Short Distances
Going back to what I said about only training in straight lines this was specific to the way tennis (and most sport) is played.
Another aspect of your speed training involves the distances you should be doing your training over.
Let’s think about the game again for a minute! Again scribble the answers down to the following questions. What is the average distance you cover to each shot? What is the maximum distance you may need to cover to get to any shot? Do you get my point?
The answers will vary slightly for each person and situation BUT they certainly are not 100 or 200 metres/yards!
When you are training for speed, you only need to be training over very short distances such as 5 or 10 metres/yards.
To re-visit our earlier analogy – you are NOT a track sprinter so DON’T train like one!!
Rest Periods Are Vital
One of the most overlooked aspects of speed training is the rest you need to take in between repetitions/exercises.
Most people finish a repetition of a drill and begin the next one far too quickly.
The reason this is wrong is because for you to be able to impact on your speed, you have to perform all exercises at 110% intensity and for this to be possible you have to make sure you have fully recovered from the exertions before.
If you are not fully recovered you will only be able to perform at increasingly less intensity as the session progresses and therefore will only really be improving your endurance and NOT your speed.
You really need to be taking at least 1 minute (if not more) to rest although this does depend on the distances involved and the type of exercise involved.
But as a rule make sure you feel recovered before you start the next one.
Remember NOT to hurry your speed training and you WILL win the race!