Training to be the best you can be and to be match ready not only involves hitting the ball for hours on end, it also involves a smart integrated and individualized training program.

Published February 28, 2014 05:21

Victoria Azarenka

Make The Best Of Your Tennis Year

Training to be the best you can be and to be match ready not only involves hitting the ball for hours on end, it also involves a smart integrated and individualized training program. In any sport it is so important to have an annual training program and smart scheduling to optimize your ability to perform at your best, however there are many variables in your season that may impact an optimal training program. These include international travel, changes in climate and surface, and injuries. Lack of physical condition may lead to underperformance due to fatigue affecting tennis skills and performance as a match progresses.

How Do Top Athletes Manage These Challenges?
They follow a carefully designed periodization training program. Periodization is a long-term training plan. It is designed to control and get the maximum effects of:
1) Volume of training and competition (amount of work performed)
2) Intensity of training and competition (how hard you work in your
3) Frequency of training and competition (how often you train)

To perform at the highest level, the focus of your training and planning should be on ensuring your training is efficient, focused on quality not quantity.

The main aim of a periodized program is to balance and vary intensity and volume of the training stress (load) with sufficient and proper recovery so that good training adaptations and performance improvements are maintained without risking injury, illness, overtraining, or burnout.

Peak Performance
A Periodization Training Plan allows you to:
• Attain peak performance at your most desired times throughout the year.

It increases:
• Motivation
• Physical Condition
• Stamina and energy
• Mental alertness
• Resilience
• Enjoyment

It decreases the risk of:
• Staleness
• Injury
• Boredom
• Burnout
• Physical Illness
• Stress

Each individualized periodization training program is based on a player's fitness level and planned tournament schedule in a year.

A typical periodization program is usually broken up into four training phases:
1. Preparation Phase
2. Pre-Competition Phase
3. Competition Phase
4. Active-Rest Phase

Periodization In Action

Preparation Phase
This phase lays the physical foundation for your season, with a target to develop a strong aerobic and strength base. The aim is to make you stronger, increase your stamina and your mental and physical resilience. The focus is on high volume and low intensity, with more off court activity. You may in this time work with your coach on technique modification. The length of this phase should BE A MINIMUM of four weeks.

Pre-Competition Phase
In this phase, training routines should become more tennis specific, increasing the level of intensity while reducing the volume of training. Although there will still be an aerobic component to the training program, more attention should be placed on explosive movement, power and strength training exercises. The length of this phase should be at least four weeks.

Competition Phase
Since a true PEAK in performance can only be maintained for approximately three weeks, you should focus on maintaining strength, power and endurance levels during the competition, with 1-2 strength sessions on non-playing days. Training should be performed at high intensity, while the volume will depend on the amount of matches or tournaments in this time period.

Active Rest
During the early part of the Active Rest you should take some time to recover from tennis. Maintain your fitness level by participating in other sports and activities such as basketball, soccer, or running. Depending on the time of year, the active rest phase should last anywhere from 1-4 weeks, with a minimum of two weeks complete rest from tennis at the start of the off-season when there are no tournaments scheduled.

Regular Rest And Recovery

The most important (and difficult) component of a proper periodization training program is to recognize when to give your body a rest and to actually rest. Recovery is the most important stage to allow physical and mental recovery and this is where strength adaptations occur.

All four stages of periodization should be worked into your schedule several times throughout the year.

Work with a certified fitness trainer along with your coach, to help you by determining your baseline fitness level. It is important to sit down with your coach while planning your year and decide which tournaments are most important for your tennis career, development, health and where and how you will peak.


The contents of the Health site are for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, psychiatric, psychological, health care or health management advice. The materials herein are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this site. Reliance on any information provided herein is solely at your own risk.

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