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Why are the Top Tennis Players Dropping like flies? Periodisation

A player’s performance follows a patterns and more precisely a cycle that allows them to peak within a predetermined window if the work is done to ensure a proper plan is put in place and adheres to the rulers of periodisation. For a more in depth understanding of periodisation there is ample amount of research available. I’d encourage those of you who are intrigued to delve into the research to be careful of those who claim to share otherwise as this is an important topic to understand and just as important to be cautious of those that may lead you down a less than desired path that may very well cause injury to overload the player/athlete.

A thorough plan involves sprints — short bursts of high intensity output, followed by a decrease in load akin to tapering in the lead up to a planned peak performance. This is merely a simplified example of an effective plan that has multiple cycles throughout a season. Unfortunately, the understanding around periodisation is often lost or increasingly ignored when it comes to developmental players/athletes who then succumb to injury due to doing too much, or achieve less than desired results due to their planning not being conducive for the predetermined period i.e. at an event/tournament.

It is common practice for players/athletes to have carefully crafted plans that follow distinct periods throughout the duration of a calendar year. These periods are the aforementioned sprints that also accommodate the need to taper and ultimately peak.

Those on the WTA and/or ATP tour have (or should have) carefully crafted plans set in place. It is all too common, however, for players/athletes outside the Top 100 to participate in tournaments near week after week in their quest to secure those maiden ranking points. But these players/athletes are just as susceptible as those inside the Top 100 to developing an injury due to poor prior planning.

Those ranked inside the Top 100 primarily have carefully crafted plans in place that adhere to periodisation guidelines. If a player/athlete inside this ranking range does not have their season planned to peak at multiple times throughout the year, they’re more susceptible to their performance regressing and/or developing an injury due to overloading. Either way, without a plan the outcome is not positive for the player/athlete.

This begs the question then why developmental players/athletes are often not following carefully crafted plans and why the majority of coaches at this level are not structuring a player’s performances to peak at set times throughout the season.

By integrating periodisation at the developmental level players/athletes are progressively being conditioned to train in cycles and in turn learn how their body peaks and reap the rewards as their game evolves. To the contrary, players/athletes who do not have access to this planning and/or structure do not benefit from these peak performance cycles and are more susceptible to being left behind opposed to progressing and/or overtraining that will in time lead to a more serious injury and the player/athlete will become sidelined. 

Implementing a structured plan for each individual player/athlete is fundamental at the developmental stage to not merely condition peak performance cycles, but to ensure each player/athlete gains an understanding of how their body works with increased loads and/or demands. This heightened understanding by the player/athlete of how their body ‘works’ can help prevent injuries now and long-term whilst builds a healthy baseline for coaches to work with as the player/athlete progresses whilst as an added benefit, being a positive performance indicator for a conducive and reciprocal coach-athlete relationship.

To learn more about Why are the Top Tennis Players Dropping like flies? Periodisation, head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis and head to Episode 37. More? Catch up on our Tips over on TikTokTwitterThreads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.

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When Should Tennis Players Take Time Off if They Become Sick: the Balancing Act

At times a player/athlete may indicate symptoms akin to being ‘sick’ when they’re otherwise healthy. Symptoms typical of a cold and/or flu may present themselves in varying forms during times when the player/athlete has a vigorous and/or extensive training load with limited periods of rest — if at all. These are key indicators of over-training that should be taken seriously — including time off with the necessary rest. Whilst general ‘sickness’ happens to the best of us, these symptoms can come about in otherwise healthy individuals when their training hasn’t factored in periods of rest. And that underlines the importance of periodisation.

For those who are unfamiliar, periodisation in its simplest terms represents more concise planning to reach that ‘next’ peak performance. These performance peaks are oftentimes around key events and/or tournaments as the training is structured towards the player/athlete reaching this ‘level’ of play around that time. Done right it can have incredible benefits and oftentimes goes hand-in-hand with the professional sporting world. I’ll hold off on distinguishing this level of planning ‘just for’ the elite as it needs to be implemented prior to ensure a player/athlete can peak at a given time — from an ITF event through to the beginning of a Grand Slam.

What becomes problematic is in the limited rest periods at the elite level, primarily in tennis with back-to-back events typical throughout the season. However, not every player ‘wins’ a tournament which allows ‘days off’ between events. And for those who ‘win’ they’ll often have additional rest periods added to their periodisation that may also include withdrawing from a pre-planned tournament to ensure this level of rest is achieved. But for the developmental player in their initial 10 Years of Play this is still a fundamental behaviour to integrate into your training load and to be mindful of during times of increased play. You need rest, too.

It is important here to note when adhering to a set plan rest can come in varying forms including active rest that may involve ‘other’ sports or a reduced on-court load if the player/athlete is otherwise healthy. Obviously it is clear (or should be) that if a player/athlete is sick they should be recovering — at home.

If the player/athlete is healthy but feeling less than 100% modification is key. This includes touch work that develops a players/athletes hand-eye coordination, for example, that can be applied in varying settings and/or drills. But it is fundamental to be mindful of how a player/athlete is feeling to begin. Over-stressing to over exerting a player/athlete when they’re feeling subpar mentally, for example, still has the potential to lead to an injury due to a misstep to mistiming — accidents happen.

Becoming familiar with periodisation for all involved can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Not only is it an active plan committed towards by both the player and the coach, it also allows the parent and/or guardian an overview of what’s happening, what’s involved and points of discussion for that triangular relationship. It is also a key planner for rest — periods of down time that are absolutely critical for the player/athlete to enjoy life ‘outside of tennis’ but also for the parents and/or guardian to plan in advance for these times, whether that means holidays, time with family and/or other hobbies/activities that the player/athlete enjoys away from the court. Keeping this balance will heighten a players/athlete commitment to their sport as it can be viewed as a reward (and should be) so they can recoup for the next ‘period’ ahead whilst keeping that balance front and centre which means limiting the likelihood of them becoming sick due to over-training.

To learn more about When Should Tennis Players Take Time Off if They Become Sick: the Balancing Act, head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis and head to Episode 36. More? Catch up on our Tips over on TikTokTwitterThreads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.