Athlete doesn’t have an easy life. The better you are the more responsibilities you have. Different sports put different demands but tennis is definitely one of the toughest to plan. If you want to climb the rank and maintain this position you can’t drop your level for 365 days. Is it possible? Let’s see.
Professional tennis players have to be great planners. They know that sport life is related to traveling, training, recovering, changing time zones etc. 4 major tournamens each year make the calendar really busy because you have to always be at your top level to firstly qualify for grand slams, and secondly compete maybe as far as to the final. Between these 4 competitions you can’t make yourself holidays because 10 days of vacation means almost 4 weeks off the tournaments (you need at least 16-20 days to come back well-prepared after the rest). Even at the junior level it is not much simpler.
International juniors play more and more tournaments than ever before. ITF circuit starts on January and ends in the middle of December. It simply means that there are only 2 weeks without any tournament in the whole world. Playing many tournaments is not a bad move for youngsters but these performances have to be of high quality. If you are overtrained or you compete while being injured you take 2 steps back in your career. On the other hand if you are able to balance rest, training periods and competition time you are on the right way to make your chances bigger to the professional level.
If you want to be a player who successfully goes through the whole year you have to consider few aspects. Here they are:
It is impossible to play with the same intensity and quantity for 365 days. Your body and mind can’t take that. That is why smart people developed periodization:) Make a training plan (yearly or adjusted to your current tournament schedule) and vary lengths, level of difficulty and skill development vs game development in your training sessions to avoid overtraining and possible injuries.
I know it can be really hard to insert 1 week into busy schedule of „important” tournaments but try to really put effort to do so. Holiday is one of the best ways to keep you motivated and to develop your game. If you don’t have time to reset physically and mentally you will never reach the top. And remember it won’t be easier at the highest level. It is sometimes better to cancel one tournament, rest and win the next one than to play 3 tournaments in a row and win only 1 round in each competition.
- Set and analyze goals
All world-class coaches mention about importance of setting goals and I agree with this idea to. Set goals for improvement as also for results and constantly work to achieve them. You not only keep yourself motivated but you also have a powerful feedback according to your development. If you want to improve your level month by month and year after year you have to do it consciously. Counting on luck is not the option for ambitious athletes.
So can players be prepared for 365 days? Yes they can but remember that it doesn’t mean great performances all year long. There will be ups and downs because the season is too long to perform your best level but it depends on your preparation and motivation how long each situation will last. Are you ready for the next great year? This article is your plan. Now it is time to put plan into action.
Marcin Bieniek is a professional tennis coach and founder of instructional website http://tennisisland.us. Marcin has been working with USTA, top 100 ITF and WTA/ATP players. He is a frequent contributor to TennisPro and TenisKlub magazines and he was a speaker at International Coaching Tennis Symposium 2016 at Hilton Head Island, USA.