Most of the coaching articles that are available on specific tennis websites are related to practice and competition. We can learn which drills we should use, how to structure 1-hour lesson or what tactical scenarios we can incorporate. All these information is really important when we want to increase our performance but we can’t forget about the other aspect of tennis training. It is recovery…
Motivation. Good coach. Being coachable. Resistance. Players who want to achieve own potential and get to the top have to possess these factors. With 50% effort there is no way to beat advanced rivals. When your coach doesn’t care about own education and doesn’t follow new techniques and trends you will always be behind with technical, tactical, physical and mental skills. When you think that you „know everything” you won’t have a chance to make necessary changes to increase your level of play. Do you stop exercise every time you feel little pain? That’s not a recipe for success. Your game is based on your daily actions so you really have to take care of a lot of aspects to make sure that your activities take you forward. Unfortunately even when you do most of these things you can still have problems with development. It happens when you get tired…
Many players are great hard-workers at the beginning of every week. They rested well, had some time off tennis and they are motivated to put own best to all drills. This approach doesn’t happen too long because the harder they work the faster they get tired. When we feel tired we look at the same things from completely different perspective. Too many times our goal is to survive – not to improve! The best players learned how to deal with these difficulties and that is why they are able to train well and compete in many tournaments in a row without significant drop in performance. Can juniors do it too? Of course!
Approach to recovery has to be similar as how we approach injuries. Smart athletes try to prevent injuries/reduce possibility to get injuries. Other athletes don’t think this way and when they get injured they do anything they can to recover as fast as possible. Remember: PREVENTION is the most important in all aspects so use it every day to make sure that you don’t get tired at the beginning of the week and you can’t play well at the end of it.
There are proven methods that can help players delay fatigue and make daily recovery much faster. If you want to be ready to play your best game 24/7 you should incorporate these actions:
- Regular 6-8 hours of sleep (Sleep is by far the most effective recovery technique. It is crucial to go to bed at proper time to be sure that we have around 6-8 hours of sleep ahead. Lack of sleep or irregular hours can destroy your body clock and make you more tired than you should be)
- Healthy eating (Eating habits have big influence on your recovery. If you eat healthy products you deliver all necessary nutrients to your body so it can function optimally. If you are not a fan of bananas, chicken and rice, and you prefer McDonalds then you can be sure that your body will feel your practice sessions much heavier)
- Massage (Traditional massage can do magical things to your muscles but it is also costly. If you can deal with it then remember to book it in the middle of the week. If you can’t afford this option then try self-massage using foam-roller. This modern tool is extremely famous among all athletes and it allows you to „help” your tired body anytime you want)
- Stretching (Stretching is great for your flexibility but it also makes your recovery much faster. Nobody likes to get off bed and „feel” yesterday’s practice so it is smart move to stretch after the session. 10-15 minutes of good static stretching will give you many benefits both for your performance and recovery)
- Cold bath (The most famous technique for all athletes. When the practice/match is done it is time to jump into ice bath. I know that it is not the most comfortable thing to do but it has significant impact on your tiredness. Remember: more often you use it easier it is to „survive” first moment of contact with ice)
The biggest mistake that athletes do is to start thinking about recovery when they are really tired. You have to think ahead. Use recovery technique every day to make sure that you don’t get to the point when your body says STOP. It is normal that you are more tired at the end of the week than you are at the beginning but the difference between both stages can be much lower when you recover every day with given techniques. Work hard and recover!
Marcin Bieniek is a professional tennis coach and founder of instructional website http://tennisisland.us. Marcin has been working with USTA, top 60 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.