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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.