Muscular endurance is the ability of the muscles to contract and relax repeatedly over a prolonged period of time. Muscular endurance is important in tennis because the muscles are expected to work at full for a prolonged period of time. For example the quadriceps are working for long rallies when running up and down the court. Some points may even require sprinting for short periods of time. Muscular strength is the amount of force, muscles are able to exert against a resistance. There are three types of muscular strength. Dynamic muscular is repetitive application of force.
Dynamic strength is needed when sprinting for shots. This is repetitive muscle contraction, as the quadriceps and the gastrocnemius have to contract and relax continuously, sometimes at full strength. Dynamic strength can be improved using light weights or low resistance, doing many repetitions and increasing the duration or the number of repetitions. Explosive strength is maximum strength applied in one movement. It can be improved using weight or resistance training. Using medium to heavy weight or medium resistance, doing fast repetitions and increasing the resistance will help to improve explosive strength.
Weight training involves a series of exercises using either sets or repetitions, to focus on specific muscle groups. All these exercises involve overcoming a resistance or load using either a machine or free weights. Circuit training is very useful for training certain muscle groups individually and also focuses on skill and fitness. An order is chosen using alternating muscle groups. This order gives time for that muscle group to rest while another muscle group is worked. Opposing muscle groups must be worked to ensure a balanced strength distribution.
Circuits can use either repetitions or a set duration and may include timed rest or be non-stop this depends on the fitness of the group as a whole. For a mixed ability group a set amount of time would be most appropriate because each person can work to their ability instead of trying to reach the same amount. This allows each person to set an individual target and then try to beat it. For a group of similar ability a set amount of repetitions or a set duration. Repetitions could be used to make sure the group works at a certain level and a timed set could measure everyone’s level on an individual.
When doing the circuit on your own timed sets should be used to set targets and then as you get fitter, beat them. The effect of circuit training is it improves general muscular strength, endurance, muscle tone and posture. It also increases bone density, metabolic rate and decreases body fat percentage. This is useful in tennis because it works many components needed such as muscular strength, muscular endurance, stamina, and aerobic and anaerobic fitness. Interval training is alternating between fixed periods of exercise for example running or sprinting with periods of rest or lighter exercise such as walking or jogging on the spot.
The amount and intensity of exercise must be matched to the fitness of the individual. If the circuit is too easy, the individual will not benefit from the circuit. The same applies if the circuit is beyond the individual’s capabilities. Overworking muscles can cause injury for example doing too many shuttle runs can lead to a pulled Achilles heal. Interval training is effective in most team sports but is also useful for tennis because in tennis there are periods when you are sprinting and then rest points such as the change of point.
This allows each player a small amount of time before the next service. Interval training could be used to improve stamina. Fartlek training is very similar to interval training but the intensity and type of exercise are varied with changes in pace, terrain and styles are also varied. This is useful for tennis because the intensity can suddenly change for example when you are playing a shot from the back of the court and then running to the front to receive the return drop shot. Using fartlek there are no fixed amounts and the programme can be set to the individual’s level of fitness.
Interval and fartlek have similar effects on the body, which depend on the level they are done at. The effects are they improve aerobic and anaerobic fitness, they increase metabolic rate and decreases body fat percentage. Continuous training involves long, slow, distance training at a constant rate without rest. It is not specific to tennis other than it improves aerobic fitness. It is more useful for sports such as cross-country running and other sports that do not have rest periods.
Flexibility is very important in most sports and can improve technique and prevent injuries. Stretching before training and before playing sports can improve flexibility and warm up muscles preventing straining or tearing muscles. There are three types of stretching, which are passive, static and active stretching. Passive stretching is using an external force such as a partner to assist the stretch. Care should be taken to avoid over stretching the muscle. Static stretching is where the muscle is stretched beyond its normal range and held.
The muscle is then relaxed. After doing this regularly the range of flexibility should be increased. Active stretching is moving the muscles to prepare them for the sport. Individuals should make sure to stretch all the muscles needed for the sport. This will be useful for tennis because a lot of movements are repeated. Stretching may prevent injury and increase the range of movement, which may improve technique. For example stretching the upper arms may improve the reach. This would help with the service helping the player to reach higher, maybe even gaining power.