Physical preparation related to playing style

Tennis is an individual sport. We can observe thousands of different forehand backswings, hundreds complex serve preparations and unusual relaxing habits between the points. These all scenes show us that tennis is not one-proper-way sport. Tennis is dependent on so many unpredictable factors so thats why we can be spectators of these versatile techniques. Every match, every player and every ball is different. Coaches are changing their methodologies and they try to teach players how to play tennis naturally. It means that every player has distinct skills to perform given stroke on his/her own way.

We can easily say that tennis is a sport for everybody because it doesnt matter how you play and you still can win. In contrast to figure skating, tennis skills are not assessed by technique but efficacy is the most important. Nowadays, individual approach to every player is well-known. We can observe the situation when coach has 4 players on the court and four of them work on 4 different things at the same time. This is an example of perfect individual approach. Coaches know that they cant put all players to the same bag because they are humans, not robots. Everybody is different and we have to care about it. Pace of development, perception of the ball, agility and quick decision-making are just few examples of differentiations between players. So if coaches individualize approach to technique, tactics and mental game, why dont we do the same with physical side?

As we know, players have different styles. We can observe pushers who play behind the baseline and make all balls in. Another style is a baseliner who feels comfortable only in this area. Next style is puncher who tries to rip almost every ball for a winner. Another one is counter-puncher who is similar to the pusher but this player finishes the ball when he/she has a chance. Next player is called all-around because he/she can play successfully from all areas on the court. The last one style is serve & volley which means that player strives for coming in as soon as possible.

Physical preparation is a really important area in athletes development so we cant teach everybody in the same way. To individualize physical preparation, we have to know our players strengths and weaknesses, habits and tactical patterns. Every playing style is different so we have to base physical program on this particular style. What does it mean? Firstly, we have to know what our player favorite style is. Remember, we cant assume this style; we have to cooperate with player and ask him. We can also see some videos or matches to support our point of view but we cant decide by ourselves. Secondly, we have to analyze what significant style-features are. We have to take care of rallys length, strokes per rally, distance covered per rally etc. This information is helpful to create personal physical development pathway. Lastly, we can customize physical program to meet a need of particular game style. Lets analyze what we can do with each style of play:

 

Pusher

This type of player needs unbreakable stamina. As we know, pushers run a lot and push all balls back. When we coach players with this style, we should focus on stamina and muscular endurance. These players are as good as their stamina. If their endurance breaks, they are over. So with pushers overall physical program should be based on stamina and muscular endurance. They have to be in top of these areas to be competent to play successfully as a pusher. This style consists of long rallies and hundreds of strokes so muscular endurance combined with solid stamina are the most important.

 

Baseliner

Baseliners should be prepared to play effectively from baseline. As we know, baseline game is based on lateral movement and short distances to cover. By taking these factors into consideration, we can easily prepare physical program for baseliner. They have to train short-distance movement, endurance and muscular power. Short-distance movement is responsible for baseline game and muscular power is necessary to play forcing shots. Every baseliner has to improve stamina to be ready for 3 or 5 sets match.

 

Puncher

This player bases his/her style on power. Their rallies last max couple seconds because they take a risk on every ball. Coaches have to be aware of these facts to successfully prepare proper physical plans. These players should focus on muscular power, strength and muscular endurance. They have to be really strong and irresistible to be able to play this style for few hours. Their rallies are short so they dont need phenomenal endurance. They have to finish point quickly so physical program should be created to achieve this goal.

 

Counter-puncher

This style is dependent on opponent so physical preparation must be overall. It all depends who the rival is so these players have to be prepared for every style. Endurance, muscular endurance, short and long-distance movement are just few factors to train. These players have to be complete athletes to compete with other styles. Physical program should be focused on all physical areas which are necessary in tennis.

 

All-court

This player is comprehensive so physical preparation must be the same. They have to train all areas of physical ability to perform successfully with this style. These kinds of players must be prepared both for net-game and baseline game. Physical program should be based on all areas and any of these parts cant be more important than others.

 

Serve and volley

These players base their game on running to the net. As we know, distance from baseline to service line is exactly 5.485 m. Speed on this distance should be trained as a primary goal. Secondary focus should be on endurance. Player with serve and volley style has to maintain high-level of endurance because he/she has to be ready to run to the net through whole match. The last emphasis in physical training should be on reaction. Players dont have too much time playing volleys so they have to rely on reaction. This component can be incorporated into physical practice as also into tennis practice.

 

As you can see, each style has different demands for players. We cant put everybody to the same bag and wait for results. We have to individualize physical training to complement playing style. We dont practice serve and volley pattern with player who plays 2 meters behind the baseline so we shouldnt train too much of aerobic endurance with puncher who finishes rally in 2-3 seconds. The most important thing is time when we can start individual approach. As we know, young players have to be trained comprehensively to become a strong athlete. Overall physical program should be prepared for players under 15 years old. Over this age, we can individualize physical training to complete favorite playing style.