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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.