A dynamic warm-up is used to increase blood flow, flexibility of muscles and tendons, and core body temperature and to enhance muscular range of motion (21,32,45). The warm-up is performed for approximately 7-10 minutes. This period and the resultant temperature increases of muscle tissue and core body temperature may decrease injury rates during the subsequent activity (2,45). The dynamic warm-up uses ground-based movements that mimic the patterns that will be used throughout the training session (23,34). Selected movements include forward and backward skips and jogs, shuffles with 180° turns, skipping and jogging with 360° spins, forward and backward step-overs (prances), forward and backward lateral bounds, and “C” skips.
Ground-based speed and agility programs are developed based on the specific energy systems used during tennis match play (20). To this end, interval training is prescribed. Interval training allows for large volumes of maximal efforts for repeated trials (20). Conditioning workouts start with a 1:4 work to rest ratio to specifically challenge the anaerobic energy system. Rest times are systematically decreased to elicit a conditioning response (4). A cumulative workout distance of between 1.5 and 2 miles is prescribed to achieve optimal improvement (2,4,20).
The ability to move fast laterally, have optimal reaction time, and first-step quickness may improve performance of the tennis athlete (35,38). Sport-specific starting positions are used as a method to positively influence sport-specific movement transfer. Examples first steps used include the split, crossover, shuffle, and drop steps.
A combination of general linear speed and general multi-directional agility training is also done. For example, the “M” drill, box drill, and pro-agility drill are popular patterns because they allow for forward, lateral, and backward movement encompassing the entire court. Tennis ball drops and visual change of direction drills are also added to increase reaction time using a visual stimulus. Short sprint races using a combination of visual, auditory, or sport-specific starts are also used to improve first-step quickness (18).
Many players enjoy positive rivalry, so the competitive environment inspires maximum efforts (15). Specific contingent feedback is given to each player so that immediate corrections to technique are made. Specific technical instructions include demonstrating efficient lower-body triple extension, purposeful elbow drive, a straight back, relaxed shoulders, and keeping the head and eyes up (18).
It is important to note that although incline treadmill-based sprints can be effective for increasing short distance/duration sprint speed, there are limitations to this type of training. Treadmill running allows for only linear training and the use of sport-specific starts is not an option.
Post-workouts are followed by a warm-down consisting of a light jog and static stretching lasting 30 seconds to 1 minute per muscle group (2). Stretching after activity has been shown to decrease muscle stiffness and soreness, remove unwanted waste products, and increase flexibility (22,44). Examples include single-leg hamstring stretch, laying piriformis/glute, side-lying quadriceps, and butterfly groin.
Post-workout nutrition is an important aid in recovery. To promote optimal recovery, carbohydrates in a ratio of 1.2 g·kg−1·h−1 should be consumed within 30 minutes after the workout (41). Depending on the intensity of training, carbohydrates should continue to be consumed every 30 minutes for the next 2-5 hours (9,49). A combination of protein and carbohydrates has been shown to stimulate protein synthesis after workouts (41,48). Karp et al. (25) suggest chocolate milk as a suitable source for post-workout recovery because it has similar characteristics of many carbohydrate replacement drinks.
Taking time off is important because it allows the body to recover physically and mentally (4,28). The most current studies indicate that 48-72 hours of recovery should be sufficient to allow the peripheral and central nervous system to return to baseline performance levels (16,33,51). Active rest such as low-intensity cycling can help clear lactic acid out of the muscle tissue, resulting in a faster recovery (14,30).
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